The Vote to Close Review queue has been awfully active lately. While there are indeed some crap questions in there that need to be closed, there are some others that make me scratch my head.

Our rule about not allowing app recommendations is to prevent a flood of questions like

What's a good app to flurb the blag?

and nothing else.

However, I'm seeing an awful lot of questions in the review queue that

  • have an accepted answer
  • have a multiple-paragraph, detailed description of the problem the author is looking to solve
  • are six months old or older

That the question has a throwaway line of "what's an app that can do this?" doesn't immediately disqualify the question. Especially when the vast majority of the time the solution necessarily means an app.

I think we've lost sight of what "no app recommendations" means.

What we don't want:

  • Questions that are basically polls
  • Questions that show no research effort and are basically the OP using us as search consultants

These questions that I've been seeing in the review queue are not like this. They're good questions that look like they're getting close votes solely because of the fatal flaw of including a line that says "what's an app that can solve this".

I have been voting "Leave Open" on these, but as we know there can be a tendency to "dog-pile" votes, and I'm afraid that good (if slightly flawed) questions are being closed for no good reason.


  • How can we clarify our policy?
  • Can the Moderators ping the users that are getting a little over-zealous with their Close votes?
  • Can we have an effort by a few high-rep users (and/or Moderators) to go back over some recently-Closed questions to see if any should be re-opened?
  • 1
    3 questions in one... As I'm regularly going over the recently-closed list either, I'll try to keep a better watch on those "worth re-opening" as well. As for the clarifications: We might want to check our FAQ and see if it can be updated in some minor points (e.g. I also miss the "shopping recommendations" explicitly mentioned there). Btw: "Closed" does not mean "deleted" -- one big difference to me when I walk the MRC list (I never vote to delete Qs with appropriate answers, e.g.).
    – Izzy Mod
    Commented Mar 24, 2013 at 14:59
  • 3
    I think it's a bad idea that mods (or anybody else) should contact users regarding their votes. Instead the rules about when something is off-topic should get improved. Every user with enough rep is welcomed to view the closed questions for re-open candidates.
    – Flow
    Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


I agree.

The FAQ needs to be revisited. I never understood why "What app can I use to..." was frowned upon. It might be a venue for developers to shamelessly plug their apps, but it's probably also the only way to solve a user's problem.

Having to rephrase the question so that it satisfies the FAQ is a waste of time.

But I agree that poll-type questions (Which is better for doing this task? App A or App B) should be avoided.

The same goes for "What's the best app for doing this task?" questions, but I think this is just the same as "What app can I use to..." (minus the "best" keyword). So, we should let that one slide.

It's up to the Answer to provide different alternatives, if they can recommend more than 1 app. But we clearly need to watch out for answers that sound like SPAM, or a recommendation that hardly solves the user's problem.

  • 1
    This seems a bit like throwing the proverbial baby out with the bath water, and I don't think this is really what Al is suggesting. A question like "What app can I use to read email?" (or: "What's the best email app?") is exceptionally lazy and turns into nothing but polling, so I disagree that we should change the FAQ to accommodate such questions. However, a question like "What email app supports [some very specific feature]?" where the OP describes their situation, the reason common apps don't work, etc is technically "What's an app for X?" but has a lot of data to box in the answers. Commented Mar 25, 2013 at 4:14

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