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We've recently had a number of questions of the form "What is a good design software for X?"

On almost any Stack Exchange (barring Software Recommendations) this type of question would be shot down immediately, as they are quite problematic:

  • Too broad: a very large range of software packages can be used to do almost anything. Without sufficient details in the question, it's impossible to narrow down an answer to a few software packages.

  • Primarily Opinion Based: the best software package is generally the one you're most proficient with. As such, people are likely to recommend packages based on what they're already familiar with, rather than what is truly the "best" choice.

This meta post on software recommendations lays down some guidelines on what constitutes a "good" software recommendation. Basically, a question should identify precise requirements, in order of importance, that the software should have. I think neither of the example questions achieve this, since they basically boil down to "I want to model an X" but give no indication of what features they need from the software, what operating system it should run on, what their budget is,...

  • Are the current questions acceptable?

  • Should we adopt SR's guidelines?

  • Should we disallow "recommendation"-questions altogether?

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Thank you for bringing this up.

I think that there very seldom are any good questions that ask for printer or software recommendations, and I would therefore vote for them not being allowed in general.

So far I have handled these types of questions by waiting to see if other users flag them, and then take action after a close vote has been made. If we decide they should be avoided in general, we probably want to put them on hold right away - this would also make the answers much more consistent after eventual edits.

UPDATE:

Another recommendation question was asked today. The OP wants to buy a 3D printer that can be used for printing dental implants. I believe this question has two possible types of answers:

  1. Highly subjective: "Printers made by MkrBot are much better than PtrBot, get the first (...)"
  2. Informational objective: "Get a resin based printer because they typically have better resolution than FDM printers (...)"

While the first is almost entirely opinion based, the second can offer some proper insight that will help the OP in search for a specific printer. In these cases, I suggest that we try to guide the OP into formulating their question such that they promote answers of the the second type, rather than the first.

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  • $\begingroup$ I don't think your suggestion to rework that recommendation question was all that good. The question lacks initiative and own research. It's incredibly broad (it considers every possible printing technology) and the requirements are extremely vague ("resolution" and "surface finish"). A somewhat better question would be "I am considering technology W and X what are the pros and cons of each for printing Y models given Z requirements?". $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '16 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ I fully agree that the version you mention would have been better. Though, I don't think we always can expect that kind of specificity from users who does not seem to know what to ask about. Then again, if the edited question still is too broad, we probably simply shouldn't reopen it. That being said, what is your stand on the topic of how to handle recommendation questions in general? Put on hold asap, and close if nothing happens? $\endgroup$ Aug 31 '16 at 21:34

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