There are three questions that are essentially about converting hand-written text to on-screen text.

This question has survived (i.e. not closed) and has answers. On the other hand, this question was closed as being off-topic. Now, this third question is also similar and asks about OCR software recommendation.

However, at the base level, are they not the same? The heart of all three questions is: how do we convert hand written text to digital text?

In that light, should not all three of these be closed as being off-topic (and also being duplicates!)? Thoughts?

2 Answers 2


The first two questions are dupes, no doubt about that.

For the third one, asking for OCR software, I'm not sure if it refers to hand writing even though I guess so.

Especially the last one (OCR software) is a list question and opinion based. It could be closed for that.

Are they off-topic? Well, we allow software questions if they are about special tools for writing. We also allow questions about editing. Scanning text on paper (handwritten or not) with an OCR software to edit/publish the text could be on-topic. Depends how the questions are asked.

I do not like the three questions, but I cannot nail it down why (besides being list/opinion based questions). But if in doubt I always vote for on-topic.

  • Yes, the OCR question does not explicitly mention hand writing but is pretty much evident that it talks about it. If we close one of these questions as being off-topic (the first one), then should we not follow suite and do the same for the rest of them? Mar 13, 2014 at 10:48
  • @PraveshParekh, if one is off-topic, we can close all three, I agree. They are dupes or at least similar enough. But as I said, I'm not sure if they are off-topic. Mar 13, 2014 at 10:51
  • All three of these are software recommendation questions, and off-topic. The third question is vaguely about journaling, but I think it's still a software recommendation at heart. Would be willing to close if there is no objection. Mar 27, 2014 at 14:12
  • @NeilFein. no objection from my side. Mar 28, 2014 at 9:38
  • I think I was misled by the title of the OCR one. In my experience OCR usually refers to processing typed text, but the question is about handwriting, same as the other two. Mar 28, 2014 at 14:01

I share your (and Neil's and John's) reservations about these questions. I think what would be on-topic is a question like the following:

I have all these hand-written stories/journal entries/etc that I'd like to edit and publish. What is the {easiest, cheapest, fastest... put criterion here} way to get this hand-written text into an editable digital form?

The question should focus on the problem (getting the text into the desired form), not the means. Maybe, based on the volume, your best bet is to forget about software and just hire a teenager to type for you. Answers can address the various options and their tradeoffs.

In my ideal world, somebody would ask a question like that, it would get useful answers, and then we'd close all these as duplicates of it. Or maybe we'd merge some of these into it; I haven't reviewed all the answers.

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