Recently, I've noticed a bunch of shopping questions with good answers in which no one complained (about them being shopping questions).

Most recently, I've seen:

I've seen more but don't remember the exact titles off the top of my head. Has opinion changed regarding shopping questions? Or are those questions different?

  • \$\begingroup\$ The community maturing and requiring higher quality posts of its members will really increase the level of shopping question that works. The primary metric for judging the suitability of such questions is described in the blog post "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective" \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Jul 20, 2012 at 3:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ There's never been anything wrong with shopping questions \$\endgroup\$
    – endolith
    Jul 20, 2012 at 12:05

2 Answers 2


Ultimately, my opinion has not changed on shopping questions. I feel that they are OK when the question is trying to establish a process for selecting a part (How would I find a good part that does X) but not OK when it's basically "tell me what part to use".

Looking at your examples, I down-voted the first one (AVR) due to the asker's poor research, and I have voted to close it as well since it is closer to the "I don't want to think, just tell me what to buy" category. Practically, these questions are often too specific for it to be useful to a large audience.

The second one I consider a "good" shopping question. They are asking for a method of selecting a part from a vast pool of options. Specific product recommendations may be a byproduct of this question, but both answers walk through the process of identifying selection criteria.

The problem as I see it is that not enough people use the community moderation tools available to them to help ensure that only high quality questions remain on our site. There are actions available to ALL levels of users that can help us with these problem questions:

  1. Flag for moderator attention: This is available to all users with at least 15 reputation. If you feel that a question is out of line, don't hesitate to click the flag button! This is NOT just for offensive content, and it is ALWAYS reviewed by an expert on the site (a moderator).
  2. Down-vote bad questions: This is available to all users with at least 125 reputation. Down-voting questions does not cost any reputation, and helps gives feedback on the quality of a question. Practically everyone could stand to vote more - it helps our community out immensely.
  3. Vote to close: This is available to all users with at least 3,000 reputation. Closing a question is the first step of removing a question from the site. Closing a question doesn't delete the question or prevent it from being improved, but it does help remove "bad" questions from the pool. Closing a bad question should a goal for users of this site. Note that it takes 5 people to close a question
  • \$\begingroup\$ My answer was a comment I wanted to post but realized too long, then an edit that I felt deviated too much from your original post and now is another answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Jul 20, 2012 at 4:19
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Well said. I skipped over the first question before, probably because it had AVR in its title. I have now voted to close it. I think the second question fits here nicely for the reasons you say. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 20, 2012 at 12:21

Stance on the subject has not changed to my knowledge, diamond moderators act from the same basic set of ground rules as they did before.

A Maturing Community

The community maturing and requiring higher quality posts of its members will really increase the level of shopping question that works. The primary metric for judging the suitability of such questions is described in the blog post "Good Subjective, Bad Subjective". Many of the metrics are based on the answers given, as they are often the clearest way to tell if the question is too subjective to be useful. It is still borderline to me but close enough to not be worth the action of a diamond.

Question with Detailed Information but Lack of Research

The first did not show thorough research, the metric by which you are supposed to vote on questions, but did have the needed information to possibly allow users to teach instead of just giving basic links to companies or google. This type of question often spawns from a user not knowing how to effectively search for components, not necessarily a lack of effort on their part. Often showing how to use a tool to look into these parts is helpful to them and users in the future.

Question About Component Selection in a Specific Technical Situation

The second question has a clear technical situation where they need help on how to pick a mosfet. There is an excellent chance for a great answer here really teaching a user how to go about picking a mosfet and looking at its characteristics to see if it can handle the job. Honestly, the point at which this question started getting great answers heavily correlates with the example that one of our top users has set. Ideally you give what I call a stevenvh answer on this site, you have answers that explains step by step what you need and how to tell if your device does it. Stevenvh is not the only user whom does it but his concise communications skills and willingness to attempt a task instead of giving just a part number has been a significant contributor to our site being able to open the flood gates a bit more to these questions.

Raising Flags for Moderators with Low Quality Questions

Flag if something seems like it does not fit or there is an issue. If you think the question is poor and you can, vote to close. Actions on the site are designed to be easily reversible, if a question is closed for a reason, it can be edited and reopened. Moderators often only act if an issue is clear to them. We occasionally err but to my knowledge always correct such situation. Our site allows anyone to post without verification, instead using the community to close crap afterwards. At this point it must be brought to quality guidelines then we will reopen. It allows a shorter delay to good questions showing up and allows us to mitigate the presence of crap on the site.


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