https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/ is now in beta, but it seems to be going strong. Should we add this to the sister sites list and start migrating new software recommendation questions there?

  • SoftRecs is NOT going strong. In the last two weeks there have been 150 questions. 108 of those questions did not have answers. There were 52 upvotes on questions. In Photo.SE there were only 35 out of the first 150 questions with no answers. There are 120 net upvotes on questions. – Sherwood Botsford Jan 24 at 4:46
  • 4 years later, I can confirm softrecs IS going strong: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/60887/… with many photography questions and requests for all kinds of plugins for Photoshop/etc. – Nicolas Raoul Feb 22 at 6:07

My hesitation with that is that we should be a one-stop shop for photography and that a question may be valid on more than one site as a consequence. We have the same when it comes to video questions where the question is equally valid for either our site or the video site.

  • I hear that, and that's why I think it's fine to keep questions about software, or the ones about how to do a thing where getting certain software is the answer. The general software recommendation questions have all of the problems of the most problematic shopping questions, so a site that has set itself up to handle that specifically seems like just the place to refer people. – mattdm Mar 8 '14 at 14:13
  • @mattdm - Any examples? I just wonder if we're kind of at a place now where it matters very little because the recommendations are so unchanging that it's been done and asking again is assured to be a duplicate anyways. – John Cavan Mar 8 '14 at 14:34
  • Sure. This one was what made me ask the question. It was originally asked here and then moved. I see that the poster immediately got a helpful response there, and also got the impression that people here were "upset". (I think the post here was downvoted.) Being more clear about the guidelines upfront, and pointing people to the right site initially can help new posters get what they need more quickly without feeling like we are treating them badly. – mattdm Mar 8 '14 at 18:16
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    @mattdm It's a fair point, I'm just hesitant to have a "policy" right now. I'm much more in favour of a case-by-case situation here. – John Cavan Mar 8 '14 at 19:38
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    I agree with John, I think we should be careful about how and when to implement a new policy like this. I don't think that software questions, when they relate to photography, should be off topic. Software is an integral component of modern photography, and I think it could get very odd, and frustrating for many of our users, to have to ask their photography software questions elsewhere. I think whoever downvoted the question that was migrated was incorrect with their downvote...IMO, the question was entirely on topic here. – jrista Mar 14 '14 at 6:53
  • Well in the case by case, the one I posted recently for a DAM recommendation has gotten 4 downvotes already. And only one comment saying that it was 'too specific'. – Sherwood Botsford Jan 22 at 21:21

I think we should, especially in cases where the question is clearly "I want to do X; what software should I buy?".

When it is "How can I do X?" and the answer is "You could use software Y", I think that is fine here.

And in general the existing "List of software to do X" questions usually aren't successful or maintained, but we might want to look if the new site will do a better job of maintaining them and migrate them if so.

(Overall I think we should wait for the site to clear beta before migrating any existing questions, but I think we should start now with new ones.)

I think it depends on the software they're after. There's a few general areas that software recommendations fit into:

  • Calculators / reference material for technical understanding of photography (e.g. focal-length, DOF, macro calculators)
  • Image Processing (Photoshop, HDR, blending, fusing, stitching, retouching, etc)
  • Image Management (import, tag/rate/apply metadata, arrange, export)
  • Image File utilities (EXIF/IPTC data, dealing with specific image formats)
  • Image Viewing (slideshows, web-hosting)

Some relevant questions:

While they're all software recommendations, I think the first 3 are so strongly linked to photography (in that they're apps that only a photographer would use) that they could easily belong here on Photo.SE. The latter two may be widely used, so could perhaps go to a separate software recommendations site.

I guess my suggested rule is that they belong here if the software is clearly for photographers, rather than simply related to photography. It's kind of an arbitrary line in a grey area though, so does make it hard to follow precisely.

The reason I would like really photography-specific software recommendations to stay here, is that the user-base are photographers (or at least heavily interested in photography). For example, someone who doesn't identify as a photographer, might be happy with whatever random stitching software they found, and would likely prioritise ease-of-use over more advanced features. But someone who spends hours making a single image 'just right' will likely have a lot better insight into the different options. There's a good chance they've tried a few of them, and have used them thoroughly. (Of course, no guarantee on such users, just more likely to get dedicated/enthusiast/experienced photographers on Photo.SE than on SoftwareRecs.SE).

  • This sounds good, but if you look through the software-recommendation tag at how it actually has worked in practice, I think you'll see my point. It's a pretty sad collection, with few getting good answers and most getting poor answers. – mattdm Mar 11 '14 at 5:37
  • I think with the exception of a few geekier tools like Hugin or Exiftool (both likely to also be known on the software recs site), the software we are all likely to have that special expertise in is a really short list: Photoshop, Lightroom, Apple Aperture, Gimp, Darktable, plus maybe a handful of others (Photoshop plugin suite of the moment), all of which can really be easily found with a web search. For that reason, I think we really should focus on the techniques and how to do things side. – mattdm Mar 11 '14 at 5:42
  • Maybe just one or two approved community wikis for this then? (I can think of a few Astrophotog tools, for example) – drfrogsplat Mar 11 '14 at 23:21
  • Except the community wikis are some of the worst. Our site and the Stack Exchange engine just aren't good for this. Look at what a mess photo.stackexchange.com/questions/471/… is. It'd be much better to point people at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raw_image_format#Software_support instead. – mattdm Mar 11 '14 at 23:24
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    I wouldn't say that community wiki is bad. Some SE sites use them effectively. I think the problem is that lists are bad for the SE model, and lists inevitably become community wiki. I agree lists should be avoided, wikied or otherwise. – jrista Mar 14 '14 at 6:57

Software questions that are of the form, "What is the best photo editor" need to be jumped on because they are too vague or opinion based.

However, I have had a software question on Software Recs now for 28 days. In that time it has been viewed 32 times, and to date has not even received a comment, let alone an answer.

I have asked for other recs, and gotten similar results.

The problem is that for any given tag on software recs, there aren't enough readers. I tagged it with metadata, digital_asset_management, and catalog. Metadata has 22 questions, no followers, the other two have only my question. I just added Photography which has 8 followers and 150 questions.

Software recommendations should be allowed here, but with the following caveats:

A: The question should be detailed. If different SE's can modify their own codebase, I would suggest than a minimum length of 1000 characters be set on anything with the tag 'software recommendation'

B: It should be clear what the problem is with the current commonly used packages.

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    I'm not sure your question in SoftwareRecs.SE is a good example of the need to allow sw recs on Photo.SE. Yours is a highly specific question. While that seems good (because you have spent time thinking about your requirements), it virtually guarantees few-to-none answers, because of very narrow interest (apparently) to most readers. Add to that, the "timeliness" of product rec. questions in general, and we still have the problem of such questions getting no love, staying open and unanswered. – scottbb Jan 22 at 19:05
  • I've copied the question here into this exchange, and gotten 4 downvotes. At this point I'm examining whether I have to roll my own. – Sherwood Botsford Jan 22 at 21:23
  • I'm sorry about the DVs, that's crappy. FWIW, I did vote to close, but I don't see why it's getting downvotes. It's a decent question (although not a fit for Photo.SE, IMO). I wish people didn't vote OT by just downvoting. – scottbb Jan 22 at 22:04
  • @scottbb Would you tell me why it isn't a good fit? – Sherwood Botsford Jan 24 at 4:23

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