I have a question about tools. According to the on-topic page, tool questions are off-topic on Software Engineering Stack Exchange. Is there a site for me to go to ask specific tool questions?

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    IMO, tool questions are a perfect type of question for softwareengineering.stackexchange.com and not for SO. In fact, they totally do not belong on SO; SO is about coding questions, that's it. The fact that tool questions are not acceptable on SE.stackexchange is a major fail on the part of StackExchange community. Tools and software engineering are heavily synonymous. I frankly don't get it. Commented May 23, 2017 at 23:17
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    @AlexanderMills The community at Stack Overflow, many years ago, decided that questions about software development tools would be on-topic there. This community is much newer and, very early on, decided that tool questions would not be accepted here. If you read the answer, there is a very narrow scope of tool questions that is permitted here - questions about fitting tools into a development workflow. We specifically want to avoid "how do I do X in tool Y" questions.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented May 24, 2017 at 0:28

1 Answer 1


Question is About Finding a Development Tool For A Specific Purpose

Asking for software recommendations is on topic at Software Recommendations. However, if you decide to post the question on that site, the required information for posting a question has a much higher threshold. From the ground rules and What is required for a question to contain “enough information”, you will need to describe your specific need in detail. If you are unsure how to frame such a question, please ask in the SoftwareRec chatroom before posting.

Question is About How to Use a Development Tool

If the tool that you are using is a tool that is used to design and develop software and is used primarily in a software development environment, you should check out Stack Overflow.

A number of development tools already have questions and answers on Stack Overflow, ranging from requirements management tools (DOORS) to architecture and design tools (Dia, Rhapsody, Enterprise Architect) to editors (Visual Studio, Eclipse, Notepad++) to mathematical packages (MATLAB, Sage) to version control (git, ClearCase) to peer review tools (Collaborator) to test tools (TestComplete, Selenium) to project management tools (Jira, FogBugz), and more.

Question is about How to Use a General Purpose Tool

If the tool is general purpose software, check out Super User.

Not all of the tools that we use during the course of software development are unique to software developers. Tools such as office suites (Microsoft Office, OpenOffice.org), web browsers (Internet Explorer, Chrome) file transfer tools (Filezilla, WinSCP), virtualization software (VirtualBox, VMWare), and analysis software (MATLAB, Mathematica) are used by many types of people in different environments.

Question is about a Tool in a Context Specific to an Operating System

There are several Stack Exchange sites devoted to particular operating systems and associated software packages or applications: Android, Apple, Unix and Linux, and Ubuntu. Be sure to read their Help Center, Meta site, and search for similar questions before asking to make sure that your specific question is on-topic for them.

Question is about using a Tool in a Software Development Workflow

If your question involves how to integrate a tool or type of tool into your workflow or process, then it is likely to be on-topic on Software Engineering. Generally, if you aren't asking about how to use a specific feature of a tool, but trying to determine how to use the tool to achieve a well-defined goal, start here.

Other Considerations

Some tools have their own Stack Exchange sites as well. For example, there are sites for Drupal, Expression Engine, Mathematica, Salesforce, SharePoint, and Wordpress. There are even more sites for both particular environments and specific tools in beta - check out the complete list of Stack Exchange sites.

Some questions may be on-topic on multiple sites. If you see your favorite tool on a site, check out some of the questions and answers to see if your question fits and which site is most likely to provide the answers that you are looking for. Do not cross-post questions - if you feel that your question should be moved to a different site, flag it and let the site's moderation team know. If you aren't sure, every site has a Meta site and many sites have a chat room, so you can always ask before asking.

Moderators can, and do, migrate questions. If you do ask in the wrong place, there's a site that is more appropriate, and it's a well-written question, it will likely be migrated. Low quality questions that don't meet the quality guidelines of the other site won't be moved.

There are site-specific automatic question blocks - posting on the wrong site will not help you get answers and will likely lead to being blocked on other sites. It's also not possible to migrate questions if you are blocked on the target site. If you are blocked somewhere, do not post questions that are off-topic somewhere else. Instead, work to improve your existing questions and answers to have the block lifted.

See Also


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