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I see quite a few question about choosing software for one thing or another. I won't single out any in particular, as I'm asking this as a general question. Some are very clearly server related, such as questions about selecting a mail server, web server, etc. Others seem to be more about choosing some end-user software. Where do we, or indeed should we, draw a line?

Personally, I have no problem with someone asking about a mail server but I do think that asking about a mail client is really not sysadmin stuff, as it's really a personal or business decision. Am I being too touchy or am I right to vote to move such questions to SU, or simply close them as off topic?

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If someone's asking generically for a client recommendation, I would likely vote to relocate to Superuser.

If the question is very specific to IT, I'd probably leave it. For example, issues deploying an install via group policy. If they were looking for an enterprise feature in a client but couldn't find it, probably leave it.

  • That's pretty much the way I see it but just wanted to know if others feel the same way about it. – John Gardeniers Aug 4 '10 at 2:47
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If it's client software deployed to multiple user machines, in my mind it falls under "system administration" and questions like "What mail clients do XYZ, can be scripted to install, can they keep their settings on a network drive, etc." should be OK.

My first instinct is to say "if the question is valid for one of the Trilogy / meta sites, migrate it"; perhaps you need to be asking on meta.superuser too.

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There is a real fuzzy line between sysadminly software picking and end-usery software picking. It's one thing if you need to pick something that can be easily packaged for whatever software distribution product you're using. It's another to ask about comparative performance between two packages that have no adminly merit in and of themselves.

  • So where is the line, fuzzy as it may be? Do we simply each use our own discretion or should there be some sort of guideline? – John Gardeniers Aug 3 '10 at 10:18
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    @John, Unless there's some "sysadmin" twist on the question, send software questions to SU. – Chris S Aug 3 '10 at 13:07
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For email client questions, for me it would depend on whether it looks like a personal question ("what IMAP clients can I use w/ Gmail?") or a business network question ("for (obscure reason) we can't use Outlook and need to use IMAP clients with Exchange 2003, what are pros and cons of various clients?").

Or if it's "what's an Acrobat alternative that's easy to deploy and update?" vs. "what other pdf readers and creators are there." I guess for a question like this, even if I weren't asking about how to deploy the software, if I asked here I wouldn't want to have it migrated to SU. I would take it for granted that I'm if I'm asking a bunch of sysadmins what PDF (or image manipulation or CAD or whatever...), that their answers were be based not just on what they like, but what they have experience installing and supporting.

Sorry for the rambling, the shorter answer is that I'd err on the side of leaving the question here unless it's clearly a home user.

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