Are questions that belong to the category "What Apps Should I Get?" appropriate Android Enthusiasts? How about if they're asking for specific apps, such as "What are good RSS aggregator apps that integrate with Google Reader and allow offline reading?"

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    Whatever the decision, we'd better settle on it soon because we're going to be swamped very quickly with these. What a mess. – Aaronaught Sep 14 '10 at 18:55
  • It doesn't seem to have gotten any better. – ale Nov 23 '10 at 13:56

10 Answers 10



Why? Because there's no wrong answer, so anything would go.

Does this mean I just add a bunch of rules to narrow the scope and then it is allowed? Well still no, because answers tend to be valued for how much people like the mentioned app, not the usefulness or quality of the answer.

Wouldn't making it community wiki solve the problem? Again nope! Community Wiki is meant for questions that don't have a definitive answer and thus need some room for discussion or when the answers would benefit from collaboration of the community. The fact that there's no rep, doesn't change the fact that votes no longer equal quality, which is what our engine is designed for.

So what to do? Try asking a question that invites quality answers, that limits the amount of answers (it should be limited to one page of answers) and that explain how the app fits your specific needs.


I think a lot of good points have already been made here but after taking a look at the existing questions, I really think people need to take a good hard look at this:

Edit - I missed a few, and more just keep coming and coming...

Guys, this is seriously awful. We are just one day into the beta and out of 109 questions on the site, 22 of them (over 20%) are about which apps are "good/bad/best" - yikes!

Worse, almost none of them are Community Wiki, so people are actually gaining rep for asking and answering the most mundane and subjective questions imaginable.

I think this list very dramatically illustrates the problem with allowing these questions. There's no end to them. What's the best compass app? What's the best flashlight app? What's the best ukelele simulation app? Gah!

Is this what we're going to be, just a glorified review site? Is it really that hard to just go to the market and read the reviews? The Android developers have already built us this beautiful rating and review system that you can access right on your phone. We don't need this fluff.

Please, please, let's start closing these questions. At the very least close them until we have moderators who can properly wikify them, but even then, I don't want to see people's 1-line recommendations taking up 20% of the site. This is turning into a land grab with everybody wanting to own one of the big bad 500+ upvoted poll questions. If we don't nip this in the bud, it's going to bite us hard later on.

P.S. I'm not saying every question about an app is bad. Here are two that are fine:

In the first example, somebody is looking for a very specific app and has provided criteria to significantly narrow down the list of candidates. In the second example, the author is asking for a comparison of two specific apps. I see no problem with either of these.

I just don't want to see two hundred "Post your favourite [X] app" polls by the time we hit public beta.

  • These questions flirt with the fuzzy boundary we still haven't really defined. Is this a site to discover apps? If not, is it a site where I can get help finding an app for a specific function? I agree this needs to be nipped in the bud, but isn't this kind of the point of the private beta, to make sure we define that line as clearly as possible, and then enforce it? (Or do we define it BY enforcing it?) – keithjgrant Sep 14 '10 at 19:24
  • @keith: If our site is about discovering apps then we add virtually no value to the vast ecosystem of sites that already do this way better than we do. Searching for specific apps is OK because that requires the Q&A format that other sites don't do so well. Yes, defining the boundaries is what the private beta is for, and that's what we're trying to do here. ;) Obviously we need to (attempt to) enforce them, otherwise they won't be taken seriously. – Aaronaught Sep 14 '10 at 19:32
  • I voted to close a few of those. A few of them I'm still a little uncertain about. – keithjgrant Sep 14 '10 at 20:51
  • Clarification: By "uncertain" I mean I feel weird being the first to vote to close. I'm pretty sure they should be closed, but I want to be the first to say so. – keithjgrant Sep 14 '10 at 21:17
  • @keith: I don't feel weird being the first, and I've already cast my vote on just about all of them, so feel free to add yours. The only question is whether to choose S&A or NARQ; I lean toward the latter for obvious polls. – Aaronaught Sep 15 '10 at 3:22
  • And it continues: google calendar app. This won't stop until/unless we stop it. – Aaronaught Sep 15 '10 at 3:26
  • I think a few of the questions you listed aren't bad at all, including "What Lost Phone finder do you use and why?", "What Android Apps do you pay for?", "What Apps do you have that you have uninstalled for performance problems?" ... IMO none of these are subjective. – Matt Casto Sep 15 '10 at 15:04
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    @Matt: These are bad questions to me. They have no correct answers. They have no wrong answers. They add almost no value to the site because you can find this kind of information anywhere. They're not in fact questions at all, they're just polls. The votes are invariably useless because everybody will just vote for their favourite(s) which tells a reader nothing except popularity. These kinds of questions don't belong on a Q&A site; all they do is bump good questions off the front page and distort the mechanics of the voting/reputation system. – Aaronaught Sep 15 '10 at 15:22
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    Of all the ones listed, the performance problems one is the only one that I would even consider "OK", but it's still basically useless because everybody answering has a completely different device and configuration, and many people will experience performance problems that other people won't. And you have no idea what the performance issues were or how the submitter determined that it was those apps; for all you know it could be blatant superstition. Honestly, why are people so obsessed with making lists of things? – Aaronaught Sep 15 '10 at 15:27
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    I disagree with your contention that all questions that ask for the [insert superlative here] app are subjective and bad. I'll use a question that I asked and you took exception with for example: What is the lightest homescreen replacement / launcher app? There is a quantifiable and objective answer to that. If you read the question and the description I am clearly not asking for your "fav" launcher app. I specifically want to know what launchers use the fewest amount of system resources. This isn't a poll about what people think, it's a request for real data. – Matt Sep 16 '10 at 11:29
  • Another one: "Whats the best app for identifying apps or settings that cause performance problems?" This may be more subjective, but it still should only elicit specific suggestions of a limited # of apps that meet measurable criteria. Just because someone wants to answer with a thoughtless personal "fav" instead of a reasoned and evidenced answer doesn't mean the question is bad. The voting can take care of bad/inappropriate answers and bad/inappropriate questions. I agree that ?s that can be answered by a simple market search have no place here but the net you are casting is too broad. – Matt Sep 16 '10 at 11:35
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    @matt: You haven't quantified anything at all. What is "light?" Smallest size? Smallest memory footprint? Lowest CPU time? Fastest speed? These are all completely different criteria and there isn't going to be one app that does them all (especially considering that you can customize how many of these apps run - do you mean out of the box or with all bells and whistles disabled?). "Light" is no better than "best", and voting won't take care of bad/inappropriate answers because people vote for their favourite apps as opposed to the quality of the answers themselves - that's the problem! – Aaronaught Sep 16 '10 at 15:04
  • @Aaronaught: I think that "light" is pretty clearly understood as the lowest demand on system resources. This IS a quantifiable measure. Yes, you can break it down into more granular factors and debate the individual and aggregate affect of each and all however I think doing so is not necessary and the hypothetically subjective scenario where some one does break it down, does not characterize the merit of the question or outweigh the potential value in recommending a launcher app based on it's meta-efficiency. – Matt Sep 18 '10 at 17:20
  • @Aaronaught: "people vote for the favourite apps as opposed to the quality of the answers themselves." I don't. No one should. I know it happens but the fact that people don't always use the system appropriately isn't a very good reason not to ask questions that will ad value to the community. – Matt Sep 18 '10 at 17:25

What Apps Should I Get?

Should be closed as not a real question (too vague). Here are some similar questions that I imagine being asked:

  • What is your desert island top 5 apps?
  • Which app do you use the most?
  • Which app has changed your life and now you couldn't live without?
  • Which relatively unknown app do you think more people should know about?

I think this sort of question could be very popular and attract lots of answers and might even be an interesting read. I'd rather not see this type of question regularly, but it's almost inevitable that we'll get some popular questions of this type.

"What are good RSS aggregator apps that integrate with Google Reader and allow offline reading?"

Yes, I think that's OK. It's answerable and it helps someone solve a specific need. In the definition phase of this site someone suggested this question:

Is there an app/Which app is best that can do [task]?

This question received 6 ontopic votes and 0 offtopic votes. So this sort of question seems like it should be allowed. Also people are asking this type of question a lot, so it's obviously something people want to be able to ask.

  • I would qualify your [task] with some task that isn't inherent to the type of program you are running; in other words the question needs to not only ask for X Apps that do X, but further go above the standard needs of X Apps and does some specific Y-functionality. For instance, Twitter clients all tweet, and (although this may be disputable) not all of them also post to facebook. Likewise, the RSS example you have above, all RSS readers can integrate (through import at the least) with gReader, but not all of them do offline reading. The problem remains, how to judge that special thing Y. – mfg Sep 27 '10 at 13:42

If they are subjective, then they should at the least be community wiki. Or closed, depending on how "generic" or "specific" the question is.


Most I have seen are list of X questions, and likely should be closed. Many answers are non-authoriatative and subjective, including my own on a GPS/traffic question.

It seems to be an abuse to simply make this a request board for app suggestions.

  • I'm not sure its an abuse. While I don't want to be overrun with app suggestions, I also think these questions are the main ones people are trying to get answered. I don't think we want to alienate those users. – Matt Casto Sep 14 '10 at 16:38
  • @mark @matt You are right about not wanting to shut down and alienate users, bicycling.se is facing a similar problem. However, take a note-taking app for example, how can someone expect any kind of a reasonable list that some 8 months down the line will really be of virtue? I think the line of app-listing questioning needs mitigated in a static-post, dynamic answer fashion; but we also can't have comm wikis pointing to dozens of app categories either. Having dozens of responses seems unorganized and messy and the cream won't necessarily rise to the top. – mfg Sep 20 '10 at 20:44

If the question in subjective, I generally agree with Ivo Flipse's answer, though I think there are usually good ways to re-phrase the question that are not subjective: Instead of "Which dinosaur app...", you could ask "What are the differences between these three dinosaur apps?" or "Are there any dinosaur apps?"

(Sorry, Dinosaurs were the first random topic that came to mind. I must be a five year old.)

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    I don't agree with "are there any dinosaur apps?" unless you expect the answer to be a literal yes or no. The wording very strongly implies an app recommendation, just like "which app should I get." – Aaronaught Sep 13 '10 at 23:45
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    Yes, but sometimes you aren't able to find ANY apps that perform a task you want, and this can help you find one, if it exists. – keithjgrant Sep 14 '10 at 15:28

I don't think it's appropriate to eliminate questions simply because they have a subjective element, especially if there is the question can invite objective answers. For example, I don't think a completely subjective question like "What's the funnest game app?" has any value. Questions like that shouldn't be asked, however, a similar app suggestion question like "What is the most effective anti-virus app?" is completely appropriate. This question invites quantitative responses that will add value to the community. If you use a particular app and you simply like it, then don't answer. If you have used several apps and have knowledge about something that makes one app definitively stand out from the rest, then by all means, share. I don't see the harm in this.

  • Both of your examples do not have objective answers. If you want a "list of antivirus apps" then that's objective - but the fact that people will simply vote for their favourites makes it a poll, and polls in large quantities are harmful to a Q&A site. – Aaronaught Sep 14 '10 at 18:48
  • I'm not asking for people to tell me their favorite antivirus apps. If you use and anti-virus app and you like it very much, don't answer. If you have evaluated several and have some quantifiable evidence that one is more effective than another, that is relevant information and not subjective. Yes there may be more than one answer, and ultimately which one is the best may be subjective depending on the field of options, however, in many cases there are a small subset of "right" answers that can be backed up by data. – Matt Sep 16 '10 at 11:20

Generic or specific questions should be made community. Like "What's the best traffic app?". Questions like "What apps should I get?" should be closed.

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    There is no appreciable difference between those two wordings. They would both receive identical answers. – Aaronaught Sep 13 '10 at 23:47
  • @Aaronaught All I'm saying is that "What are the best apps?" "I have a new Android what should I put on it?" "What's your favorite app?" "What app couldn't you live without?" questions should be closed. Anything more specific should stay. – Adam Sep 13 '10 at 23:50
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    Ah, I see what you mean, you're saying that the question is OK if it's asking for a specific category of app. I still disagree that those should be allowed; there's an endless variety of them and they're tantamount to polls. – Aaronaught Sep 14 '10 at 18:47

I say yes, if they are phrased properly. "What is the best app?" is not a good question, but "What is the best app in the category Y?"(like email, notes, or fart-noise-making) is very appropriate.


I think there is value to a generic, community wiki question when it provides answers a lot of people are going to look for. Phrasing the question, "What should I get?" is a bad idea, but maybe making a CW question that is generically useful for all users is not bad: "What is your favorite Twitter app and why?"

Check out the following CW questions on Stack Overflow. All of them have multiple "right" answers, but are highly rated and favorited by the community. In fact, these are some of the highest rated of all questions:

  • These are almost universally considered to be grandfather questions, questions from the early days while Stack Overflow was still experimenting with its identity. They are highly rated because they are highly-viewed and easy; most of these popularity contests would never stay open today. The one exception is the books question; questions linking to external information resources are usually OK because they give users another place to look if they have a question that's not appropriate for the site. Additionally, "app rec" polls are already causing difficulties on other SE sites. – Aaronaught Sep 14 '10 at 18:54
  • Interesting, I never realized that. Found this discussion on the SO meta, which reiterates and adds to what you said: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/57226/… – keithjgrant Sep 14 '10 at 20:47

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