By reading again what are on-topic questions, I found that discussing security tools are among on-topic subjects; but then I see many questions closed as being tools recommendations.

Why this contradiction?

  • 2
    Using tools is non-controversial, recommending tools isn't. Sep 1, 2015 at 18:55

1 Answer 1


A: "I'm using this tool to do X, but I have general questions about its use."


B: "What tool do I use to do X?"


C: "Tool X isn't working. How do I use it?"

A is on-topic. It shows knowledge, understanding, and context. It is possible for questions to survive the use of the tool into more general tool use.

B is off-topic because tools go in and out of favour, new tools rise, questions go stale.

C is the big debate. Theoretically, they could be on topic, but in practice, questions of this type have needed to go to product-specific forums or the vendor/dev's support page. Alternatively, I've seen a lot of questions that should go to SuperUser as a general software config question. Most of the questions I've seen are answered by RTFM.

Personally, if C cannot be answered by RTFM or the vendor support page, and the question shows an understanding of the technology and the problem, it is on-topic here.

With the death of Hackoverflow, the community might need to assess how much of C we need to take on.

  • @Damn it got killed again!
    – Ulkoma
    Sep 1, 2015 at 21:44
  • 2
    Very well put.... All except for that last line, Hackoverflow had nothing to add that we don't already have (and good riddance to bad rubbish). As you say, if it's not RTFM, or general software config, or specialized vendor support, AND the asker obviously understands what is being asked - we already take on those questions, and wouldn't have needed HackOverflow anyway. If it IS one of those - we still shouldn't keep them open anyway, for just the reasons you said.
    – AviD Mod
    Sep 1, 2015 at 23:16
  • FWIW I don't really agree with c) in many cases the product specific forums lack information about the security of the product, and in the cases of security tools practitioners will have insight about common issues and configuration that wouldn't necessarily be available on on a specific product forum Feb 29, 2016 at 13:39
  • I am confused as I can see several highly upvoted software recommendation questions e.g. Recommendations for honeypot software Jan 7, 2017 at 17:56
  • 1
    @FranckDernoncourt note that the question you linked was from 6 years ago (most similar questions are from 2011). We changed the scope of questions since then.
    – schroeder Mod
    Jan 7, 2017 at 19:46
  • @schroeder thanks for the clarification. Jan 7, 2017 at 19:47

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