Update: this question is now posted. Parts shortage, no stock, what now? (canonical reference question)
inspired by Source microcontrollers in this difficult times
Questions about where to buy parts are clearly off-topic, but I see an angle here that may be on-topic. I'd like to post (and self-answer) a more general question about dealing with cyclic parts shortages:
As a small business, student, or hobbyist, sometimes the parts I need are unavailable (no stock anywhere). Maybe authorized distributor will take order but they will not ship for 10, 20, 30 weeks, which is a very long time to wait. If I search on internet there are some marketplace or auction sites that seem to have a few leftover parts, but I don't know how reliable they would be. If I buy bad parts that's a waste of my time and money, but if I buy only from authorized distributor, I can't get parts until 6 months or a year. Why is this happening? What do I do?
I've got a self-answer queued up based on my experiences at Maxim, since I've seen both the customer-service and business-management "supply" side as well as the "customer" side since I design evaluation kits. Brief explanation of the forces that come together to form these supply chain storms, and some suggestions for how best to make use of authorized distributors and the kind of flexibility that can weather the supply chain disruption.
Is this likely to be on-topic or should I forget it?