In the general case, questions asking for software to accomplish some task are off-topic here (and generally closed as "too broad"): answers are necessarily opinions and suggestions, and not really able to stand up well to objective scrutiny.

However: should we allow for exceptions to this rule for questions asking to identify a specific piece of software? Arqade has a similar exception for permitting game-identification if some kind of artifact is provided with the question?

  • \$\begingroup\$ I've posted answers covering what I think are the most obvious options, but feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Nov 15, 2017 at 2:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ To me at least, it seems like the primary basis for identification would need to be a visual artifact - if that's the case, how does someone other than the OP discover they have the same question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Pikalek
    Nov 15, 2017 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you post links to a couple existing questions which have been or are in the process of being closed for this reason, but wouldn't be closed under this change? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 17, 2017 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @TrevorPowell This is the question that prompted me to make this meta post. It's the first such example I recall seeing. \$\endgroup\$
    – user1430
    Nov 17, 2017 at 21:44

3 Answers 3


No, these questions are still fundamentally outside the scope of the site in that game developers are not any more qualified or capable of tracking down this kind of information.

  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ I think game devs are more likely to have run across the software, provided it's actually related to game dev. \$\endgroup\$
    – Almo Mod
    Nov 15, 2017 at 5:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 because of the reasons I gave on the other answer from Josh. \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Nov 15, 2017 at 13:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think one trouble here is that it's basically a matter of luck whether a developer who's seen that program happens by. Over years of experience, devs can build up fairly generalized knowledge of problem-solving strategies used in games, applicable to a wide range of questions, but we've still each seen & used only a handful of tools ourselves. So it's a bit like folks coming here to ask about WWII aircraft - yes, you might catch a developer who worked on a WWII game and knows the answer, but there's no reason to expect many developers do, the way we can expect many devs to know update loops. \$\endgroup\$
    – DMGregory Mod
    Nov 16, 2017 at 4:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm with the opinion that these sort of questions will add no value here. Even if we're equipped with the means to find out what was used for what, it could very well be an engine that is not open to the public, or under NDA or worse, under development and still in an alpha version. All we could essentially offer is whether the engine in question is closer to Unity, Unreal Engine or CryEngine (since those are the most easily available engines). \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2017 at 12:18

Yes, we should permit these sorts of questions provided that they include some kind of visual artifact (screenshot, animated GIF, et cetera) that can be used as a basis for identification and verification.

This is similar to Arqade's policy concerning game identification, which requires the question to include an artifact meeting certain criteria.

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ -1 I don't think this is going to make great answers (you need basically one word to make an answer for this type of question). And as we've seen before, this will open the door to software recommendation in the form of "I don't know that software you ask about, but you could use this software instead". \$\endgroup\$
    – Vaillancourt Mod
    Nov 15, 2017 at 13:24

I think ID requests would be a good addition to this site if we do them right.

The usefulness of this depends on the rules these questions need to follow. The purpose of the SE network is to provide good answers to questions and to eliminate the need of searching through dozens of random forums to find what you're looking for.

If we have 50 different questions with the same "Please identify this piece of software for me" title and with a gif in the questions body, then there's no chance they are ever going to pop up in a Google search and they might as well get deleted if they only help for one person.

A great example to follow in my opinion is the movie SE. They have strict rules on identification requests. You need to give the question a descriptive title, you need to write a couple of lines of text in the question's body and you need to provide as much details about the movie, as you can (art style, the date you saw it/got released, etc.). If we do the same, then this feature has a good chance of becoming useful.

There's also the problem of how you describe something, this is why, for instance, Anime SE banned id requests some time ago. Different opinions make it close to impossible to find questions about the software you're looking for.

And last but not least, there's the problem with customization. I've seen examples of IDEs getting customized to look like a different ones, because the programmer liked that style (I remember a conversation on r/programminghorror, that occupied 4 and a half screens, because someone asked the OP what IDE he used and no one could recognize it. It was sublime 3 modified to look like VS with IntelliJ-like recommendations)

  • \$\begingroup\$ I lean on the "No" side of things for that exact reason. IDEs and engines regularly change their appearance and feature sets, and some write custom IDE's as flavors of existing platforms like eclipse or netbeans. This only further limits the set of people who would recognize that particular flavor beyond what the customize crowd already do. \$\endgroup\$
    – Stephan
    Nov 17, 2017 at 16:31

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