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I myself and other people have voted to close topics (such as this one or that one) for being about how to use a third-party addon for Blender. Yet sometimes we still do answer such questions to our best (like here or there).

Regardless of our current stance: it isn't clearly stated in the closing option we use for these topics (nor in the mentionned help center):

This question is either not about Blender or is asking for hardware recommendations.

When the question doesn't seem to be strictly about using Blender or in any way related to the software as defined in the help center, like game development, hardware recommendations or other third party software.

It's not the first time the subject is brought up on BSE Meta:

Both seemed to agree that we can answer these, with mentions of preferring free over paid addons, and documented and active over undocumented and dead addons. Though, both are quite a few years old, so maybe the de facto practice have changed since?

So, where do we draw the line ? Can we define a clear one once for all?
And if we do not want to answer some of these third-party addon questions, could we update the closing options to either add an option for that specific case, or update the current "This question is either not about Blender [...]" option we use for that purpose? Because right now, any user who wants to see that rule will not find it, and instead will find that we close topics with no apparent ground to do so.

I have the gut feeling that, we tend to close such questions when they are purely about using specific features of a third-party addon whereas we let it pass when the answer is about using Blender regardless of an addon. I.E. with rigging systems addons like Rigacar: if the question is how to use the addon's tools: we tend to close. But when it's a common rigging issue that any kind of rig gets: we answer.

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    $\begingroup$ I pinged @JohnEason over at chat, since he also seems to share the opinion that those should be off topic. If you have different opinion please do post it as an answer so the community can vote $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 15:44

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Thanks for bringing this up, it has been on the back of my mind for a while, since I've seen some users propose closing questions for being about third party addons.

My personal view on this stands by the answers made in those linked posts. That is to say I think we should accept questions about addons for Blender, even commercial or payed ones here, as long as they are within the scope of our site.

That means they are not "bug reports", rants, or otherwise off topic matters. I have been refraining from voting to close those questions more on a gut feeling than actual rules, but the posts linked in this question confirm my suspicions.

Why? Well Blender is a software that supports addons, they are a central part of the native functionality, and a lot of common, even popular, features rely on them, including lots of official ones. Say Cycles is technically implemented as an addon you can turn on or off; like a lot of the official importers and exporters, and many other community addons shipped by default.

Like mentioned in other posts we would prefer free and open source addons over commercial products, for those we can always point users to official documentation (if any) or official support channels. As a commercial product professional support should be expected. That is not to say that questions about them should automatically be considered off topic here, if someone does know the answer, then having them around will only expand our platform.

It is also possible that some third party authors (of free or payed addons or forks) intentionally divert support requests for their products to our site, with honest intentions of leveraging our platform for answering them themselves or with the help of the community. Here they may remain freely available under a permissive license, easily accessible to all without the burden of hosting and curation. Good examples of this are and .

Where should we draw the line then? What's to be considered on topic or off topic?

I would draw the line at:

  • Bug reports, error messages, Python exceptions, or any other behavior that is obviously unintended, malfunctioning or may otherwise be considered erroneous. This should also be reported to authors for fixing, there is nothing we can do here.
  • Trouble shooting network connections like web service availability, server timeouts, firewall configurations, or other network related diagnostics; for online or service based addons (like render farms, online asset libraries, cloud services, SAS (Software as Service), or other "connected" addons that rely on some web infrastructure). This is the job of the maintainers.
  • Issues that are strictly "behind a paywall", that is investigating the issue requires some unreasonable purchase, buying specific non-free asset, or signing up or subscribing some free or payed service or network. We can't expect volunteers here to go through the trouble or sign away their privacy for the sake of an answer.

That is not to say we are somehow obliged to answer any of these questions either. One can easily imagine the success rate for questions about obscure, third party, or payed addons may be significantly smaller, but that is just a natural consequence that I see as acceptable.

This is my personal take on it, if you have a different view please voice it as another answer so the community can vote. May the answer votes be the deciding factor.

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    $\begingroup$ I fully agree with this view. $\endgroup$
    – quellenform Mod
    Commented Jul 31, 2023 at 23:41
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    $\begingroup$ I think I mostly agree with this. Especially for commercial addons, it should really be part of the service to provide help for that. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 4, 2023 at 15:05
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not a very visible user here, but I frequently lurk. A lot of what know I about Blender comes from Blender.SE, and a notable amount of the answers that have taught me something useful, have been about third party addons. In short, I find such questions and answers useful. I agree that there should be rules about when to allow those questions, and when to close them, and I completely agree with this answer about what those rules should be. $\endgroup$
    – user143855
    Commented Aug 12, 2023 at 18:13

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