W5VO: One portion of electronics is identifying and acquiring parts. To
that end, price and availability are
important things for consideration.
However, this goes against the general
StackExchange philosophy, as shopping
advice is typically localized in time
(price can change, distributor goes
out of business). Additionally, the
more specific the requirements, the
fewer people who will benefit from the
What is your position on shopping
questions? If you support shopping, is
there a limit to how "lazy" a question
can get? (e.g. What's the digikey part
number for a cheap 0805 47pF
capacitor) For those opposed to
shopping, how tolerant of price or
purchasing questions will you be?
reemrevnivek/Kevin Vermeer: I've consistently been an outspoken opponent of what Jeff's blog post calls shopping recommendations. I'm all in favor of questions about identifying and acquiring parts which lead to learning, but many of the people who ask these questions are too focused on getting a distributor URL to be bothered to learn anything. Not only does the question asker fail to learn, but the question and answers also have a negative impact because future readers will be looking at obsolete (temporally localized) information. I've posted answers to most of the shopping questions, read, for example, this answer to get a more in-depth perspective. To echo the proverb yet again, 'give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, assuming overfishing and pollution haven't killed off all the fish yet.'
Kortuk: People seem to consider me a larger opponent of shopping questions then I actually am. I fall almost perfectly in line with what reemrevnivek has posted. I have seen well ask shopping questions that no one even realizes are shopping questions. In these questions someone is trying to learn and asking a questions that will be useful to the broad audience of the internet.
As a moderator it is my job to steer the community in the direction that is "correct". The general advice is to lead by example and over time the community will learn the rules and enforce them on their own. When someone asks a question wanting to know what suppliers have a better deal on a part, or when someone asks what they can buy that is cheaper then their current solution with answers that are just links to solutions, I close them. This is part of what I was asked to do and I agree.
The post Jeff had sums it up, "QA is hard, lets go shopping." QA is hard and it is very easy for a site to become a one stop shop for asking people where to buy things cheaper. We have all seen the results of very easy questions with very clear and simple answers, they get many many upvotes because the entire community is qualified to judge the technical quality of the information. With shopping you do not even need to know anything technical, you just need to be able to judge the prices that are acquired. This becomes the easiest way to get reputation on the site and will give positive feedback for asking basic shopping questions.
I think that is enough of a rant. As with all of my opinions, they are subject to change.
Kellenjb: I have to agree with both @Kortuk and @reemrevnivek, but I have more to add to them. I don't believe the shopping issue is as big as people have made it out to be. What I think has happened is there has been an extremely negative response toward the people who asked the questions. So negative that it has caused many of them to get worked up over their question being closed.
So I see 2 parts that need to be done to fix this issue. The first is to clearly define our sites stance on shopping questions, basically this would be taking what @kortuk and @reemrevnivek have talked about and turn it into an FAQ form. The second part is to help teach people how to transform their shopping questions into proper questions.
Nick T: My personal stance is that questions that are looking for sources for components, modules, or tools for some volume (1-10 vs. 10k+) are fine. Generally the distributors are companies that aren't exactly ephemeral ("too localized" in time), so the rate at which useful answers die should be acceptably slow.
Additionally, I have recently rethought my position to be OK with questions that are geographically specific like this one, as per some of the thoughts of 001 and 002 in a podcast. That question could very well apply to many more people than the average question detailing a specific problem. Pricing, however, is extremely volatile and should be avoided.
In any case, if the community reaches some sort of consensus on these questions, my personal stance means nothing. Though what 'consensus' would be on such a topic, I have no clue.
Daniel Grillo: As a moderator, I'll continue following the official guideline, until our community be able to change it.
My personal opinion is very similar to what others candidates answered. I really enjoyed of answers of the question Nick T linked and it benefited myself. But I had to close it.
For me, and I think many others, this question in SO is one of the best questions ever, but it's not considered a good and on-topic one. So, like them, we have to continue steadfast in our purpose in be the best resource available, even if it means sacrificing good questions.
Madmanguruman: I'm generally opposed to providing specific purchasing information here, in so far as 'buy part x from supplier y' or 'expect price z' since this sort of information is fluid. Telling someone about major suppliers, distribution channels, quantity discounts, minimum order quantities and the need for multiple sources where necessary is broad enough to benefit the community at large, and would be how I would approach a specific pricing question