The FAQ says that "shopping or buying recommendation[s]" are off-topic. I understand the ratio behind this choice, since not only this will produce a great deal of spam from company minions (either twisting their answers to suit their latest offering, or posing fake questions that can be explicitly addressed with their products only), but will also generate tons of design-irrelevant questions from... buyers, not designers.

BUT... There's a but. Component selection is a very important part of the design - and more generally - engineering process. Device characteristics, functionality, availability and (even more importantly) cost should all be factored in the selection of a part. And while these traits inevitably surface in many answers to various questions, I feel EESE would benefit from a single centralized question that would give directions on how to perform a reasonably efficient selection and where to discuss pros and cons of specific solutions - inclusive of pricing and technical shortcomings.

Now, here on EEmeta there is this question: Where to go for shopping questions? that gives a hint on how to proceed in the most general case of selection of a given device based on the salient characteristics (it mentions product selectors on main distributor websites, the findchip site, and another question mention using the chat). But I had a hard time in finding it, because I did not use the term "shopping" in my search. Plus, it's just giving hints - it's like mentioning textbooks with the amplifier configuration to answer a question about biasing...

Would it be all right to post a question like this on the EESE site, not the Meta, so that detailed answers can be given? This could be the only question with tags "product selection", "shopping", "cost".. you name it. The question will have one answer on how to use product selectors (possibly with screenshots), one answer on how to peruse the chat, another one on findchip, one about this of that site that allow discussing costs and comparison between vendors...

Or maybe this last bit is the problem? The fear it will drive traffic away?

Will such a question be closed for that?

  • \$\begingroup\$ "Some people" on this site are so affeared that we may transgress the holy edict of "no shopping questions" that they have shopping-question filters fitted to their data input systems and construe every possibly conceivable question as being a SC and a substantial number of inconceivable ones as well. They do not seem to be aware of the fundamental directive of the site that we are all meant to strive to comply with, nor that many vaguely SC the questions can be easily modified / improved to both satisfy the O AND to usefully contribute to fulfilling the fundamental directive. ... \$\endgroup\$
    – Russell McMahon Mod
    Nov 28, 2016 at 11:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ Actually, it seems there already is questions like that. Answers there aren't really "canonical", though. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Dec 1, 2016 at 21:05
  • \$\begingroup\$ Just thought I'd post this for reference: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/158809/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Jan 23, 2017 at 22:21

5 Answers 5


While product selection is a major part of electrical engineering, it doesn't work well with this site. The problem is that most of the information and procedure of selecting parts is short-lived. That doesn't match with SE's intent of building a lasting repository of questions and answers. Specific parts, prices, and vendor web sites change a lot faster than electronic theory.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Info on how selecting specific parts may be short-lived. Not so the general approach. Mouser, RS, Digikey won't disappear overnight. They might change name as they consolidate, but the general principle behind a selecting engine would not change much. Besides, if the post is made into a community wiki, it can be updated and amended accordingly. The same applies to other sites where such discussion are allowed (after all who can say if they will be more short-lived than EESE?). It would be nice to have a decent list of venues from practicing engineers. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 12:24
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    \$\begingroup\$ And to be clear: I did not ask to make specific product selection questions allowable. Just to detail, on the main site, the process of product selection as seen by practicing engineers. Teaching how to fish is what I am after. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 12:27

"Some people" on this site are so affeared that we may transgress the holy edict of "no shopping questions" that they have shopping-question-filters and enhancers permanently fitted to their visual data input systems and construe every possibly conceivable question as being a SC, and a substantial number of inconceivable ones as well. As such people usually stalk the halls of "First Posts" and "Close Votes" they generally act as very efficient decimaters of incoming would-be SE members and destroyers of 'would have easily become a "FuD class*" question but died abrning questions.
*FuD - See below

Incredible as it may seem, such persons, despitetheir often substantialexperience and rep(rap?) do not seem to be aware of the fundamental directive of the Stack Exchange sites that we are all meant to strive to comply with, nor of the manifestly evident fact that many questions which are but vaguely SC in appearance, need not be SC in fact after, in many or most cases, but little manipulation and guidance of the seeker.
ie Such questions can in many, and indeed, in MOST cases be easily modified / improved to both satisfy the OP AND to usefully contribute to fulfilling the sites's fundamental directive.

The SE Fundamental Directive (hereinafter 'FuD') is, of course

  • "All SE members must eternally strive to generate superior Q&A sets of high value and eternal and/or everlasting relevance to vast quantities of people worldwide such that they shall make superb search engine bait that will draw marks from all over the internet (and beyond) when said marks use search engines to seek to find answers to their queries,

    So That the site owners business model will work as hoped and they shall make much moola."


Alas, the degree of misunderstanding of what the FuD is, and that many derided questions can with consummate ease be converted to be FuD suitable fodder by those skilled in the art, is so severe

that practitioners of said art are derided and harried

and would be questioners are if at all possible driven from the site with remonstrance and ridicule and an utter utter minimum of welcome assurance and apple pie and motherhood, not to mention sea to shining sea.


I suggest, as I have before in this and similar areas, that questions flagged or noted as potentially site-unsuited, be given a sensible chance to be given the small amount of attention that, in many cases, would allow them to become the stuff of the site owners' dreams.

Questions such as wherev can I find a 10 Ohm resistor, RJ45 connector, Philips 126547656934, Sprague .... etc , will probably 'never hunt'.

BUT questions about eg

sizing batteries for a specific application
(possible chemistry, mAh, cycle life, discharge depth ...)

or where can I get a motor for my robot that will allow me to ...

or I want a wind turbine for my SUV/camper/woodshed ...

or a zillion other things,

can become tutorials in design, selection, limits and limitations, good engineering and much more, such that the site-owners will drool over, and search engine herded marks will flock to read, such as already happens in selected cases when I manage to get to the questions ahead of the kneecappers. (It doesn't always work, but often enough it does, and it would be a lot easier to achieve in even a neutral atmosphere.


Good examples are harder to find than they should be as such answers are often written amidst a hail of arrows fro the battlements, the question closed in no time flat and the process of improvement and mild modification generally stymied aborning by 'management'. However:

What should I look for when shopping for an ESD bench mat?

I would like to get an anti-static mat for my bench top and found these two:

DigiKey: Table mat ESD blue 2X4' rubber Mouser: Antistatic Control Products 2X4' blue table mat What should I look for when shopping for an ESD bench mat?

What type of solder is safest for home (hobbyist) use?

If you do not think that anyone would consider that a shopping question, you'd be sadly disappointed.

What kind of glue should I use for PCB-mounted components to avoid vibrations?

Those were more innocent times. This one would be gone by luchtime these days

[Can silicone sealant be used to insulate and waterproof electronic components?](Can silicone sealant be used to insulate and waterproof electronic components?

Plus ONE LINE question. Try that now. Shopping / poor / ...

31 votes for answer.

this MIGHT survive

I need the most basic circuit diagram for wireless energy transfer please


What kind of transistor do I need to amplify an Arduino's PWM outputs?

5/22. Surely that's not a 'shopping question'? You'd hope. But vapartv fro the dreaded A word "what type of transistor" will have the SC closers closing.


  • \$\begingroup\$ I think that if any shop recommendations are to be on-topic, they should be about electronic components, given a specification. Not about solder irons, ESD mats or microcontroller tool chains. Picking the right component to sit in your BOM is definitely qualified electronic engineering. Picking the right ESD mat or the most user-friendly Arduino, not so much. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lundin
    Jan 31, 2017 at 15:13

Actually, I think your idea isn't bad. Something very generic, in the vein of Rules and guidelines for drawing good schematics? Something we could direct users asking shopping questions to, so they can make the search themselves? Of course, we would still have to close their post, since it is off-topic, but an additional comment directing to this canonical answer could at least help them a bit.

Well, in that case, you have to take a lot of care in the way you formulate the question, because it could easily be misinterpreted (see how your meta question here got misinterpreted too?). If you really want to try, I suggest you actually prepare a very clear and detailed answer, first (the kind of answer everybody could only agree to). Then post the question and your own answer in one shot, before it gets misinterpreted and closed.

That can be fun. If the description of the search approach is useful enough and well described in your answer, I'd easily upvote. Not sure everybody would.

  • \$\begingroup\$ YES! This is exactly what I had in mind. Instead of posting such a question on EESE directly, I thought it would have been better to have a constructive discussion here, so that the question (and, as you say, an exemplificative answer) could be accurately crafted. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2016 at 11:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, I think it's worth it for the users, but on the other hand, I can speak only for myself. Anyway, in the worst case, you'll get a bunch of downvotes and the question will be closed. Note that, if you're too afraid of downvotes, you can make your posts "community wiki" (which would also make it clear what your goal is here). But in that case, you won't get the upvotes either. But I'd bet that, if your posts are really well-written, you'll get much more upvotes. It's a gamble. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Nov 23, 2016 at 11:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SredniVashtar Also, now that I think about it, your meta post here isn't convincing enough for many regular users, I think. First, change the title to something like "making a canonical answer for part searching", it better shows your intention. Make your post shorter, go straight to the point, and explain that it doesn't mean relaxing the current rules. That shopping questions will still be closed, and it shouldn't encourage more shopping questions. If anything, it will certainly even reduce their ocurrence, since people will have some generic guidelines to follow before asking. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Nov 23, 2016 at 19:45
  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, one thing is certain: the purpose was misunderstood from the start. Perhaps my English is much worse than I thought. Even Olin, who seems to have gotten the gist right, thinks the answers would be based on "specific parts, prices and vendor websites" that would make the answer useless when they'll change. As for the downvotes, well, I'm a grown man, try to imagine a sky chock full of ducks, all flying. Yet I am intrigued by all forms of self-censorship and I am curious to understand the real cause of this one. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 23, 2016 at 22:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm sure Olin didn't actually get what was your intention. His answer is the usual answer of "why are shopping question off-topic?". The problem isn't in the english, your english is fine. The problem is that you really explained what is your plan in the 4th paragraph, and the three paragraph before just typically look like a "why are shopping question off-topic?" question. And even in the 4th paragraph, your intention does not stand out much. If people read this too fast, they'll miss it. Even me, I actually did not understood this until I read your comments on laptop2d's answer. \$\endgroup\$
    – dim
    Nov 24, 2016 at 9:27

Maybe modify the method of asking question so that anyone asking a question has to untick a box that asks: -

  • Do you require product recommendations or are you seeking to find where you can purchase certain products?

Those folk not unticking the box, should get asked again (maybe use slightly different words) just to make sure and, if they still don't untick the box, upon posting their question, it gets automatically deleted with a message explaining why and taking them to a page for the reasons.

It would almost police itself.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ Good one. I'd also like to see a "urgent" box you can check when asking. That would actually delay your post for 24 hours, just like the documentation would clearly warn. It would be particularly effective for those posting live from a exam. \$\endgroup\$ Jan 24, 2017 at 13:32

Most questions that are asking for a shopping recommendation could be solved if people would go out and learn how to search on their own. Sometimes its hard work to find something that their are only one or two sources, but its part of engineering for you to be able to find it. Everyone has access to google, digikey, mouser, octopart, ebay, ect. A good engineer knows how to find parts and manufacturers and how to consider price, quantity ect.

Why would you want to ask people to do the searching for you when you could do it yourself? Its faster if you do it, and you know all of your requirements. A lot of the shopping questions are noisy with, I want X. Oh yeah, did I mention that I want Y and Z, I forgot about that.

If you have to ask, is there an IC that does X? then you haven't searched through enough manufacturers inventories, datasheets and app notes. If you have and it doesn't exist, then it doesn't exist.

If you have to ask, is there a mechanical part that does this? or is this pitch\size? Search digikey\mouser (or pick up a catalog, the pictures can be a good help), the searching is being improved constantly.

A better thing to do is don't ask shopping questions. Ask design questions. Ask circuit questions.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ "Most questions that are asking for a shopping recommendation could be solved if people would go out and learn how to search on their own." - The same is true for almost all questions asked about circuits. C'mon, get a friggin book, don't bother asking on the Internet! But that's not the point. It appears you guys are on autopilot and did not bother to read my question. Let me use caps, so to make it clearer: I DID NOT POST HERE TO ASK PERMISSION FOR ASKING SHOPPING QUESTIONS ON EESE. I tried instead to open a discussion on how to CREATE A SINGLE QUESTION ABOUT HOW TO DO THE SEARCHING --- \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 22:08
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ --- ON ONE'S OWN. I hope it is clear now. I do not give a flying... duck about asking shopping questions on EESE. I do care, instead, about knowing HOW PROFESSIONAL AND PRACTICING ENGINEERS PROCEED IN SELECTING PARTS. Any advice on how not to reinvent the wheel? I also gave examples of possible answers I had to dig on the META. My question is: WHY NOT MAKING THIS INFO AVAILABLE ON EE SE, elaborating it a little bit more? Again: no specific product, no single search, but GUIDELINES for the newbies. I hope it is clear now. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 22:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Opinion questions are also not recommended by the guidelines of the site. I think you would best be served by checking these out: electronics.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask electronics.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic and electronics.stackexchange.com/help/dont-ask you may also want to check this out: electronics.stackexchange.com/help/be-nice \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Nov 22, 2016 at 22:38
  • \$\begingroup\$ "Opinion"?. Detailing a vital part of the engineering process? My GOd, then all designing decisions are 'opinions'. We will end up in calling Electronics an Art... \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 22:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ If you don't like the guidelines you are welcome to not use the site \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Nov 22, 2016 at 22:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ Your premise is flawed since we are reading the guidelines in different ways. You call "opinion" what for me (and not only me) is an essential part of the design process. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 22:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ You are also welcome to read the meta posts which is educational, shows the history of the site, why some guidelines are put into place and how they are interpreted \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Nov 22, 2016 at 22:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ I did, as a matter of fact, the "mother of all question" I have in mind is perfectly in line with all the specifics for "Constructive subjective questions": inspire answers that explain “why” and “how” tend to have long, not short, answers have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone invite sharing experiences over opinions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references are more than just mindless social fun Did you read the same page? \$\endgroup\$ Nov 22, 2016 at 22:51

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