I'll give my perspective as a long-time Stack Exchange user over diverse topics, and moderator on Software Recommendations.
Recommendation questions are problematic because they tend to degenerate into popularity contests. Popularity contests do not produce useful answers: at best, the top answer ends up being one that pushes the most popular tool, regardless of whether it is suitable for the purpose set out in the question.
Nonetheless, recommendation questions can work well on Stack Exchange. The key is that a good recommendation question is not “what's the best …?” but “what's the best … to do X?”. If an answer recommends an otherwise excellent tool that does not do X, downvote it.
Software Recommendations applies stringent moderation guidelines to both questions and answers to keep out questions that are missing the “to do X” bit and answers that don't explain how this oh so marvelous tool can do X. This works pretty well. What works less well on SR is that there are few experts in any given subject. The best place to ask about a Vim plugin for a particular task is Vim SE, not Software Recommendations SE.
So, don't get hung up on the fact that a question asks what tool to use for a job. It's still a question about how to do that job. The fact that the reasonable way to do the job is to use an existing tool does not make it a bad question. Some Stack Exchange sites throw the baby out with the bathwater and shoot at any sight of a question that might be asking about existing tools. Don't imitate them, instead imitate the other sites that understand that the answer to “how do I do X?” might well be “use this tool”. Do, however, apply normal quality control. A question that asks “what's the best X?” may well need to be closed as unclear, with a comment asking “best X to do what?”.
What is the difference between the vim plugin managers? in its original form was problematic because it lacked the “to do what” part. It's been rephrased as asking for a comparison rather than asking for a recommendation, which is fine: it asks to be taught how to fish, when the original was asking for a fish.
A few comments on your proposals:
- allow/make a few of these now, curate the answers
- close/lock them when we go public, agree to not delete them, and
- close new questions as duplicates when the public starts posting them.
No. Locked questions are absolutely useless. What do you do when a newcomer appears on the scene? What's so special about the private beta that some questions can be asked now but not later? If a question is worth asking now, it's worth asking later.
“Canonical questions” — questions that are relatively generic, and have answers which the community has spent a lot of effort getting just right — are definitely useful. They don't tend to be asked during the private beta though: they are frequently asked questions. Usually, a canonical question is posted after dozens of minor variants of the same subject have been posted. Once the canonical question exists, all these minor variants can be closed as a duplicate of it. (Take care not to close “exotic” variants not covered by generic answers though.) Canonical questions are never locked — they need to have top-notch answers, so being able to edit them is critical.
A few ideas:
- resources for learning
- handling Tex/Latex
- turning vim in to IDE
All of these are far too broad topics for a Stack Exchange question. You could write at least whole book chapters on each of these. It's telling that all of these lack a “… to do X” part.