Under What topics can I ask about here? our Help says:

If your question is about:


and it is not about:


  • Which genealogy software or website is “the best”


then you’re in the right place.

Responses to Asking for genealogy software recommendations? suggest it is not intended to deter questions asking for software recommendations so what type of questions is it intended to deter?

2 Answers 2


It is meant to deter questions such as:

  1. "What is the best genealogy database?"

  2. "What is the best website for publishing my family history?"

  3. "I need a list of open-source genealogy programmes."

i.e. questions without any supporting criteria that could turn into a popularity poll for a long list of options, without any criteria specified for what 'best' means to the OP (so there can't be one or a few good quality answers, just an opinion about loads of things that might or might not meet the unspecified need). The relevance of the answers will probably vary widely with time, and list answers don't help other users.

It isn't meant to deter questions such as:

  1. "What possibilities exist to achieve X goal. It must be simple to use for somebody who isn't a computer whizz-kid, and work on Windows 10. Cost isn't really an issue".

  2. "Is there a utility that will do Y? I use ABC as my main programme, so would want something that will work with that data format or with a Gedcom export."

  3. "What factors should I consider when looking for a genealogy database programme to replace XYZ. P and Q are essentials for me, but is there anything else I should take into account when making my choice?"

i.e. questions with a specific problem to solve and specific constraints and/or criteria for a good solution -- the set of answers will likely be limited and should include explanations about how the solution proposed will meet the need specified, not one line answers. The answers may become less relevant with age (true of many questions on many SE sites) but good answers will include enough information about good approaches to the specific problem that they'll be relevant to others as well as the OP. (In the same way that a good answer to a question seeking a 'fact' about a specific ancestor includes how to approach the problem, not just what the fact sought is.)

I'd compare it with questions on Drupal Answers -- very often there's a question about how to do something specific in a specific environment, and the answer is advice to use a specific 'module' and how it will solve the problem; however it's in the nature of Drupal that there are multiple competing modules that perform overlapping tasks, so a question may receive multiple answers proposing alternatives (or there may be only one good way of achieving the required end result, but the OP can't know whether there's one or many answers when they ask).

They've dealt with a very similar issue:

Is it ok to ask what type of modules can help you accomplish a feature

Their on-topic/off-topic spiel includes:


and it is not about…

Comparison between Drupal and other CMS's, blog software, or similar software

which makes me think we could better reword

Which genealogy software or website is “the best”


Comparison between, or lists of, different genealogy databases, utilities, hosting services, etc.

and make the on-topic list more explict about

asking for software solutions to solve specific problems

perhaps with some guidance added about how to frame a good question.


I see value in ColeValleyGirl's answer and am wondering whether a proposal (based on that) to change our on-topic page like this might work.:

  1. Replace this "what it's not about" item:

Which genealogy software or website is “the best”


Comparison between, or lists of, different genealogy databases, utilities, hosting services, etc.

  1. Use the existing question quality guidelines from Software Recommendations SE to say that if you wish to ask which genealogy software to use, or which genealogy software has a feature, then your question can be asked at G&FH SE but should conform to the guidelines developed by the SE experts in making software recommendations.

  2. Create a tag that includes 2. in its wiki.

  3. Encourage use of tags for particular software products/sites/etc and consider burninating the tag.
  • Sounds good to me -- especially the approach to software. We might want to add things like data-query to cover certain classes of software as well as tagging specific products etc?
    – user6485
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 8:27
  • @ColeValleyGirl can you elaborate on what you mean by a data-query tag "to cover certain classes of software"? Tagging specific products is a definite yes e.g. gramps, family-tree-maker, etc
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 8:42
  • The question that started this was one about querying data (and there are similar questions). If we don't want them tagged software, we need a tag for the kind of problem being solved? Especially when people don't know what piece of software will help them. That was my thinking.
    – user6485
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 11:50
  • @ColeValleyGirl I guess I see a question seeking a query builder app as being one seeking a software recommendation.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 12:49
  • OK -- we can always answer software-recommendation questions with answers that say they don't need any software.
    – user6485
    Commented Oct 14, 2017 at 13:43
  • @ColeValleyGirl I've tried to implement the main part this at genealogy.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic, and welcome any efforts to pull software-recommendations out of the software tag with a view to burninating the latter.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 5:17
  • I'd be happy to help with the tags but all my edits will need review, so that may not really be much help.
    – user6485
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 9:22
  • No problem - I'm happy to do it over a few months so I don't monopolize the front page with edits.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Oct 29, 2017 at 9:59
  • I've been clearing the review queue out of habit, but maybe I'm missing something -- what does the retagging proposal buy us exactly? What's the point of having a tag 'software recommendation' when SE sites aren't supposed to do that?
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 2:15
  • @JanMurphy et al., Please see: genealogy.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/3290/…
    – lkessler
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 3:18
  • @lkessler I have read your question, and I think you raise good points there. October was busy for me, and I didn't have a chance to think through this proposal.
    – Jan Murphy Mod
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 8:20

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