I'm asking this question in response to the question How to change the browser of a web-shortcut? (revision 3) and the accompanied comments and the answer addressing it. (Click here for the screenshot.)

On first reading the question is straightforward and so as the comments and the answers. The problem, however, lies where OP used this requirement of libre/FOSS softwares to decline non-libre suggestions, while not having it mentioned in the question at the first place, thus robbing our helpful users the chance to save their efforts in suggesting non-libre solutions.

Now if this would have been the only problem, this could be solved by editing the question and mentioning the requirement. However, what ails me is, can this requirement be justified within the scope of this website?

Seeking software recommendations are off-topic here. While we do ask sometimes for OP to reword the question to escape the off-topic net, our primary intention is to ensure the question remains open towards non-app based solutions as well. To admit that requirement within the scope is to deliberately restrict the answers to app suggestions only wherever that requirement would be raised, which doesn't seem on-topic to me. Furthermore, if we permit this requirement what would prevent in future for an asker to restrict the answers to free suggestions only?

I feel that not only we would be entertaining off-topic questions, but also robbing Software Recommendations an opportunity to address such a question in a fitting manner.

So, should we allow this requirement to be business as usual or prevent it to be raised in a question?

  • 2
    In an answer, one could point out that the problem can be solved via apps like X – and for specific app requirements ask the OP to head over and ask on SR (and ideally link to that question from the original one for everyone who wants to follow up). The answer would be perfectly OK then (showing how to solve the issue) – and the (understandable) FOSS requirement can be solved by other means (asking at SR). – Izzy Jul 10 at 6:38

I'd treat it as any other "software recommendation" questions: always put the emphasize on the issue first, but allow optional requirements like (free) apps recommendation.

Sometimes the only solution to a problem is to use paid apps, and while they might not help the OP, they might help others instead.

The last and nuclear option is to ban any questions & answers recommending apps and redirect the OP to SoftRecs.SE for app-based solution instead (which I'm still not sure if it's a good idea).

Regarding mentioning Software Recommendations on the answer, I personally refrain from doing it since I consider it as meta-commentary. I prefer to post it as a comment on the question instead...

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