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We've established (several times) that electronics.stackexchange.com is not for shopping questions.

But, apart from searching in the usual big catalogues (Digi-Key, Mouser, Farnell, etc.) what is a good way to find parts?

Can anyone recommend good parametric searches from vendor websites?

As a hobbyist - should I be contacting my local distributors directly?

Are there online forums devoted to helping with shopping questions? ("Where can I buy part X in location Y with tolerance Z?")

(This being a meta-shopping question I've raised it on meta, although it's technically off topic, I guess)

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    \$\begingroup\$ well, sort of -- per blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping the advice is teach people how to tell what they need to buy rather than spoon-feeding them specific (and very soon obsolete!) recommendations. Teach a man to fish, etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Jeff Atwood Aug 3 '11 at 22:26
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    \$\begingroup\$ @JeffAtwood, for a period no one would ever teach, we are now getting to a community that always tries to teach and the number of things we have to close as shopping advice has reduced dramatically. They can be a poor question and get a great answer. Get improvement with community. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Aug 3 '11 at 23:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ The way it's interpreted around here, anything with the words "buy" or "shopping" or "$" in it is immediately closed. \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Aug 4 '11 at 3:43
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    \$\begingroup\$ @endolith This Question is a perfect example of how a shopping question can get a good answer. The problem is in the past they weren't getting good answers. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Aug 4 '11 at 13:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Joby The questions that you have posed are not the questions that we have issues with. The ones that are an issue are "Where can I buy a ADX39402 for under $2?" and "What accelerometer should I use to get .01 G accuracy?" \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Aug 4 '11 at 13:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ Huh. I've noticed that nobody actually answered the original question: "where do we go for shopping questions?" Yes, it's been established that stackexchange is not the place for shopping questions. The question mentions this. All the answers do is re-establish it while ignoring the point of the question. When someone needs to know where to go to buy X, who do they ask? Yes, not here, but where? \$\endgroup\$ – Thomas Jun 9 '15 at 18:33
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One question made community wiki discussing different places to go and places to find parts would be on-topic and valuable to the main site. Constantly answering simple shopping questions is not a good fit but our answer quality has been rising and what once would have just been the foundation of links to parts is now the source of great answers.

Straight shopping questions where no teaching can be done would still fall under off topic but this question looks pretty close to a great CW question for the main site.

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Let me break this up into each individual question and provide my thoughts on each:

Apart from searching in the usual big catalogues (Digi-Key, Mouser, Farnell, etc.) what is a good way to find parts?

This can provide an answer to a very broad audience if answered properly, because of this I am fine with it.

Can anyone recommend good parametric searches from vendor websites?

What? Are you trying to ask how to do a parametric search for a particular item from a particular vendor or are trying to find a recommendation for a site to use? I would have to say no to this question just because it is unclear what the point of it is.

As a hobbyist - should I be contacting my local distributors directly?

Great question as it can apply to any hobbyist.

Are there online forums devoted to helping with shopping questions? ("Where can I buy part X in location Y with tolerance Z?")

A question like this can get answered with a single link to another site, which is not what we want at all.

As for putting this all into a single community wiki on the main site, the questions that I do think are OK are different enough that they should not be included in a single question.

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down vote favorite

We've established (several times) that electronics.stackexchange.com is not for shopping questions.

apart from searching in the usual big catalogues (Digi-Key, Mouser, Farnell, etc.) what is a good way to find parts?

If you know the part name: www.findchips.com It will find much more than only chips.

As a hobbyist - should I be contacting my local distributors directly?

For what? Buying 1 chip? I don't think so.

Are there online forums devoted to helping with shopping questions? ("Where can I buy part X in location Y with tolerance Z?")

I don't get the Y and Z aspects. Do you want a local shop? Why? If not local, google for the part name and "price".

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Please use this question to vote if you think a question close to this one would make a good community wiki question for the main site.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I don't think a single answer like this can actually help at all. Each question that Joby posed can be on or off-topic independently of each other and grouping them together will not really get us anywhere. \$\endgroup\$ – Kellenjb Aug 4 '11 at 13:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @kellenjb, I think one question discussing different methods to find parts as a CW would make one place to go to look up places and methods to find parts. I am sorry you disagree, where is your downvote? \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Aug 4 '11 at 14:01

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