This site is different than most - we're an opinion based site. This topic is the reason 'shopping recommendations' were banned on Stack Overflow. If we don't want to become a spam center, I think we should have some fairly strict quality guidelines.

Software Recommendations seems to be doing fairly well. Do we want to shamelessly steal its quality requirements? See their guidelines for questions and answers.

The rules there are that a question must contain "enough information", and answers must have personal experience with the product and detail how it matches each requirement in the question.

Is this what we want?

If so, how ruthless should we be in deleting low-quality answers? On SR, I delete them on sight, with a comment inviting the owner to review the guidelines and post another answer. Is that what we want for this site?

3 Answers 3


I'd say yes. Software Recommendations has proved to us that while the SE model can support recommendations, there need to be standards in place to prevent the site becoming a "spec my PC for me"-fest.

We should have guidelines adapted from SR's. If the work has been done, there's no point wasting it. The guidelines there work, so we should use that. There'll need to be some slight modifications because SR is software, and we're hardware - but the majority should be applicable.

We should also take a lead from SR in our deletion policy. If that's to delete noncompliant questions/answers on sight - if that's what has been found to work over there - then that's what we should start with. There is of course opportunity to change our guidelines and policies as we go through beta, but as a starting point SR can serve us well.


For adaptation of guidelines from SR, some of the changes are obvious - there will rarely be a recommendation that can be implemented or tried out at zero cost (open source equivalent).

Others are not so obvious, but are just as important. For example, one immediate change that I think will be needed is the "one recommendation per answer" guideline from SR. Unless the hardware question is very specific, there will almost always be several viable recommendations to make based on trade-offs in terms of features, budget and the like.

The verbosity and formatting guidelines are good, though early on I would adopt an attitude of editing to improve and/or commenting to suggest what to expand on or how to format correctly. If we set too strict a tone, it can lead to overzealous criticism, and that can destroy a fledgling community and discourage new users.


Delete low-quality answers on sight? That sounds awfully ruthless! And probably damaging to an SE site.

I have found the following to be true on SE: The best way to get a good answer on the internet is to post a bad answer.

For example, right now Software Recommendations only has answers to 59% of questions. That can't be encouraging people to ask questions when there's a better than 1-in-3 chance they won't get any answer.

My opinion is that, certainly for growing communities, newer participants should be coached into compliance rather than pissed/scared off because they were careless about jumping in.

Of course, true spam and non-answers should be deleted and moved. But otherwise voting is adequate to the task of floating good answers to the top and pushing bad answers practically out of view.

A healthy community, especially one with as broad a scope as this one, requires large numbers of participants. To get those it's going to have to be more nurturing than standard SE sites!

  • For what it's worth, I've actually seen a pretty decent turnover rate on my comment that I leave before deleting - I'd say one in ten either edits their answer and flags for undeletion, or posts a new answer. The rest are mostly unregistered users (or resistant to the idea of quality altogether, those are fun) which will probably never bother to do so.
    – user1
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 14:19
  • @Undo: Agreed. The comment nudge works wonders. Note that I intentionally took your "headline" clause out of context specifically to make the broader point of this answer.
    – feetwet
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 14:22
  • Speaking from experience of Software Recommendations, your assumptions are completely out of touch with reality. What happens if you let bad answers stand is more bad answers. The answers we delete are useless, and the only way the site works at all is because we delete them. Having a site with 100% answered questions is not good if over half of them have only useless answers. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 23:33
  • @Gilles perhaps you could elaborate? AFAICT from SR's answer recommendations, SR would rather have no answer than a correct or potentially helpful answer poorly written? E.g., an excellent question like this one could be answered with a product name and/or link. Of course a better answer might elaborate on how all criteria are met, answerer's experience, etc. But you'd rather delete a responsive and correct single-line answer?
    – feetwet
    Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 23:53
  • @feetwet SR would rather have a correct and potentially helpful answer that's poorly written. What we don't want is bad answers — for example, answers that just repeat the first Google hit for the question which in about 90% of the times obviously fails at least one essential requirement. The reason we want answers to go through the list of requirements is that when answers don't, they usually fail some of them. Commented Sep 10, 2015 at 23:58

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