It is pretty clearly established that questions about MATLAB, Macsyma, and other computer algebra systems are on topic. And indeed this page includes "software that mathematicians use" as an on topic subject.

But I think that it was also pretty well established that questions like "how to install MATLAB" or "Where can I download the Maple manual" type of questions are strictly off topic here.

So perhaps we can clarify that in the page linked above? Perhaps by changing the on topic, to specify that the questions about software should be mathematical in nature, and not about programming or general help regarding the software.

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    $\begingroup$ Do we actually get "how to install MATLAB" with any regularity making it worth worrying about? There is a hidden cost in making on-topic longer than it already is: fewer will read. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Aug 7 '14 at 1:02
  • $\begingroup$ @900: (1) Yes, we do from time to time. (2) You keep convincing yourself this page is not just for pointing out after the question was asked that something is on/off topic. (3) Did I say we should add an entire 1200 pages book? I just asked for a single sentence, those who would be deterred by that wouldn't read the page anyway. (4) math.stackexchange.com/questions/889450/… $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 7 '14 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ (By the way, I think you won't find many of these questions because they periodically get deleted. So coming up with data.SE query or search results is not going to make a convincing case against this request.) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 7 '14 at 6:57
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    $\begingroup$ I always think in this sort of FAQ, one should stress an rule of thumb: If the question can be answered by someone who doesn't know math at all, then the question is most likely off-topic. $\endgroup$ – achille hui Aug 7 '14 at 8:50
  • $\begingroup$ @900: Does that mean that you'd reconsider your objections? :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Aug 9 '14 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ Such questions are not much of a problem: they get closed quickly, with little chance that anyone is going to post an answer. After that the roomba pickes them up in 9 days. The rep-1 OP is unlikely to read Help Center or to argue about on-topicness... Also, the proposed text with "mathematical in nature" is vague enough for one to argue that testing randomness is a mathematical problem. $\endgroup$ – user147263 Aug 9 '14 at 17:35

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