5
\$\begingroup\$

At the moment, sourcing (shopping) questions are discouraged at Electrical Engineering. Many shopping questions are of low quality. For example, the author didn't do enough web searching.

On the other hand, some sourcing questions make good forum content:

  • O.P. posts his research/homework. E.g. "I could only find these, but they don't quite fit the bill, because [...]"

  • Sourcing is very important for those who do hands-on work. If somebody doesn't have the right stuff, they get stuck.

  • Sometimes, the sought item is antique, exotic, or non-existent. Such items are difficult to look for and peoples' opinions help a lot. EDIT: Besides, sourcing questions of this particular subspecies have a tendency to evolve into more academic discussions. E.g., what had superseded an antique, why it doesn't exist, and so on.

  • EDIT: Sourcing questions can make good wikis. For example: aggregate list of electronics suppliers.

My point: If we make a privilege for shopping questions, we can encourage high quality sourcing questions.

P.S. Sourcing questions are not at all discouraged on major electrical engineering forums (such as: edaboard.com, forum.allaboutcircuits.com, dutchforce.com).

\$\endgroup\$
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Good question, I don't understand why people would down vote the question itself. \$\endgroup\$ – Trygve Laugstøl Jan 20 '12 at 10:59
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ People love down-voting stuff and not leaving a constructive comment. \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet Apr 28 '12 at 9:39
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rocket: This is meta, so votes mean agreement or disagreement, not a judgement of quality. It looks like (at this point) 9 people agree with Nick and 5 disagree. That's how the system works. Didn't you read the FAQ? \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 27 '12 at 18:57
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop - what does it mean to disagree with a question? \$\endgroup\$ – Rocketmagnet Jul 27 '12 at 19:01
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ @Rocket: In this case the "question" is really a proposal, not seeking information, so there is certainly something to agree with or disagree with here. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jul 27 '12 at 19:25
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Downvoted for "aggregate list of electronics suppliers". That's what we have the Yellow Pages for. Localized information. I wouldn't want to go through pages of ads like in many magazines before I get to actual information. And don't compare with other forums; they are what they are, we are what we are. \$\endgroup\$ – stevenvh Jul 28 '12 at 5:42
11
\$\begingroup\$

There is no prohibition against "shopping questions". Questions about buying components are not inherently off-topic.

The prohibition is against questions which are too localized to be useful to a wide variety of readers, or too subjective to get a single definitive answer. Some "shopping questions" violate these rules, others don't.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 9
    \$\begingroup\$ That's theory. Here's practice. I've observed this board for a couple of weeks. Majority of practical questions where O.P. is looking for components or sources are voted down and closed. This de-facto policy is recent. Sourcing posts in earlier years didn't get such treatment. They remain open as they should. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 24 '12 at 3:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev, if you ask for suppliers specifically, or ask for us to do anything that is reminiscent of a google search, it results in a post that needs to be updated on regular intervals is not valuable in the long term. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jan 24 '12 at 15:09
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev: Sorry, I don't run the place. :/ The older posts are probably from chiphacker.com before it was assimilated into the collective. \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Jan 24 '12 at 22:30
5
\$\begingroup\$

I understand that abusing of shopping questions might degrade the site, but some shopping questions could be very useful to many of us, because they could convey new technical capabilities and therefore new ideas to do the same or new things.

I would vote to have shopping recommendations allowed.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ Recommendations are encouraged about what to look for, and not where I can find this or what micro should I buy \$\endgroup\$ – clabacchio Apr 24 '12 at 14:41
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @clabacchio: What part could I use to replace this obscure discontinued part is also a valuable question, but is currently prohibited. Instead of just asking the question and getting a great answer that future askers can read, we have to ask generic "how do I search for this" questions, and then anyone else with the same need in the future has to perform the same tedious search themselves instead of just getting the answer directly. These types of questions may be bad for other SE sites, but they're an integral part of electronic design. \$\endgroup\$ – endolith Jul 27 '12 at 21:32
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @endolith, That is not prohibited, at least not directly by the diamond moderators. I can tell you if you just post, "I cant find where to buy this part anymore, what can I buy instead?" is probably not the best question. If you instead explain the function you were using the device for and are trying to find a way to replace it, you are probably on the right track. As I have said before, if the answers focus around teaching with links to specific parts being a side affect it is a good question. If the answers are all links to parts it is not a good fit. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 28 '12 at 5:54
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree that many shopping questions are off-topic. But a lot of shopping questions like "which PIC microcontroller should I buy" are marked as off-topic, and I don't think they should be, even though they will be asnwered with specific recommendations The blog on Stack Exchange re shopping questions gave Super User as an example, where people were asking for recommendations for things like PC's and cameras, and the blog pointed out they would be obsolete in a year. But electronic parts are generally available for decades. \$\endgroup\$ – tcrosley Mar 5 '15 at 0:23
5
\$\begingroup\$

I think the problem is that the label 'Shopping Question' is a crude measure of a quality question. I may be wrong, but as I understand it, one standard of a good question is whether or not it will be a useful resource for other people in the future.

A question like "Which MCU has the best price:performance ratio?" clearly has a very limited shelf life.

But "Are there any CAN transceivers available in a package smaller than SOIC 8?" will have answers which stay useful as long as those parts are available. This kind of information can actually be hard to get just from research. Having tried the search on Mouser, Digikey, Google, etc., the only option left is to try to think of as many obscure semiconductor companies as possible and try their web sites.

One may argue that the answers are only correct for s limited time, but surely new answers can be added as new parts become available.

Like it or not, shopping is actually a massive part of an EE's job. Many of my projects begin with an extensive shopping research phase. Having a good knowledge of useful parts and tools (link for Kevin) also part of an EE's craft, and it's useful information that can be passed on from more experienced EEs.

\$\endgroup\$
0
\$\begingroup\$

We don't ban shopping questions because they're low quality, we ban them because they don't fit our site. They're localized, subjective, and not real educational questions.

You wrote:

On the other hand, some sourcing questions make good forum content ... Sourcing questions are not at all discouraged on major electrical engineering forums (such as: edaboard.com, forum.allaboutcircuits.com, dutchforce.com).

Electrical Engineering is not a forum, we're a Q&A site aiming to develop a corpus of quality information. On the fora you've listed, the archive is nearly useless because of the incredible quantity of obsolete, unreviewed, localized and/or just plain wrong content. On Stack Exchange, we work to develop a quality archive. We don't even call it an archive, because it doesn't need to be archived!

Good content on a forum does not always make good content on Stack Exchange.

You seem to be under the impression that the Stack Exchange sites and the community which participate in them are a public resource of which you can avail yourself on whatever question you might have. That is false. Stack Exchange is a carefully developed private web application, with a well-ordered community, publishing thoroughly curated content. The content which we permit here is carefully scoped to ensure that the resulting Q&A is valuable to the global audience of the internet. We've decided that shopping questions do not fit this criteria, and it's worked well so far.

To support this claim, I offer some statistics: This site has had 40-60 questions and answers per day for the past few weeks. This would indicate that there were somewhere between 60 and a couple hundred visits per day, if people simply wanted to get an answer and move on (assuming that answerers can't answer all the questions they visit). Instead, the site analytics show that there are some 10,000 visits per day! These statistics clearly indicate that the content we're producing is useful to more than just the people asking a question and moving on.

\$\endgroup\$
  • 6
    \$\begingroup\$ Guess what, fellow mod Kevin? When somebody posts a question on StackExchange, they want to get an answer and get on with their day. That's by nature subjective and localized. \$\endgroup\$ – Nick Alexeev Jan 19 '12 at 20:36
  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ @NickAlexeev, but other users cannot vote based on technical accuracy instead of opinion on parts suppliers \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jan 20 '12 at 5:20
  • 5
    \$\begingroup\$ Real life engineering is not just academic and theoretical. It involves making good design decision based on available information. Why should we limit the flow of that information? Because of the relatively low life of compoonents these days I spend half my time seeking alternatives for parts. Often a replacement is not that easy because the technology, not just the implementation becomes hard to find. I expect others find the same. It is certainly not 'shopping'. \$\endgroup\$ – Jason Morgan May 13 '12 at 14:30
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @JasonMorgan and you reach the fine line between a good shopping and a bad shopping question. This really leads into good subjective and bad subjective. We often err on the site of leaving questions open until we can be sure. You will notice that many of the good subjective and bad subjective rules are related to the type of answer the question elicits. If your question is clear, has technical merit and focuses on learning how to do something and not giving answers that mirror google results for a query it will stay open. \$\endgroup\$ – Kortuk Jul 28 '12 at 5:51

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .