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?


2 Answers 2


I could see your proposed Q & A having long-term value to future readers (and therefore to the site as a whole), due to your experience at Maxim.

On the "downside" there would be an element of opinion in any answer (e.g. perhaps someone from say, ST or TI, would say something different from you).

But on the "upside", it sounds like this would be one of the few times when a known subjective, but expert, topic would be OK, as explained here in the "What types of questions should I avoid asking?" page on our site's help:

Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? 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

As long as your question & self-answer comply with those points, then I would say "go for it and thanks"!

Note that any answers would be held to the same standard as pointed out above and, if they don't conform, then expect ruthless editing and possible deletion.

Three final points:

a) I recommend you wait a day or two, to see if a significant part of the community responds that they have the opposite view from me, and strongly object to the idea.

b) I recommend you link to this Meta post at the bottom of your question, so that those people who don't see this Meta post, but just see your Q & A, can then read this previous discussion.

c) I don't want anyone to think that this is a change or relaxation of existing rules. I see it as the rare usage of an existing rule, where a constructive subjective question, which can be answered with expertise, facts and references, and which is likely to have genuine value for future readers, could be allowed as linked above.


I agree that this could be useful to the entire community. I feel that a good answer:

  1. Would not name names. No mention of specific manufacturers or distributors.
  2. Would be fact based and not just speculation or opinion.
  3. Would be applicable two or three years from now, not just today.

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