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Currently, the "shopping" close reason says

Questions seeking product or service recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.

This is true (especially for camera bodies!) there are other reasons, too. Could we modify this to something like?

Questions seeking product or service recommendations are off-topic because answers are highly dependent on individual preference and tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.

Or if we have space:

Questions seeking product or service recommendations are off-topic because answers are highly dependent on specific needs and individual preference. There are so many different camera lenses on the market because they all fit different needs and compromises. Also, camera recommendations tend to become obsolete quickly as new models replace older ones continuously. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.

(Note that I've also changed the target for embedded link to a meta post from the "QA is hard!" blog post, because while that covers a lot of the issues, I think its tone could be interpreted badly by new users.

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  • It's my understanding that this modification requires involvement beyond what mods can do, based on this comment. So, I guess this is a request for Stack Exchange staff. – Please Read My Profile Nov 29 '14 at 2:30
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    For what it's worth, the close reason on Serverfault is: "Requests for product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they attract low quality, opinionated and spam answers, and the answers become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe the business problem you are working on, the research you have done, and the steps taken so far to solve it.", linking to this and this. I think we get these questions even more than serverfault does — we should have an explanation at least as good. :) – Please Read My Profile Nov 30 '14 at 16:23
  • I'm in favor of an improvement, though I'm not entirely sure with your suggestions as they don't seem quite right to me, though I'm struggling to put my finger on why I feel that way. Mind you, it's not to say I have a better idea at the moment, so unless someone else has an epiphany near term... – John Cavan Dec 1 '14 at 21:37
  • As a side note, we have about 350 characters for close reasons. – John Cavan Dec 1 '14 at 21:39
  • @JohnCavan Definitely open to other suggestions. The Serverfault one seems pretty good to me but is missing the key point I want to get in there, which I often repeat in comments: "If this question had a general answer, there wouldn't be so many cameras and lenses on the market." – Please Read My Profile Dec 1 '14 at 21:40
  • Hehe, yeah, I agree, we'll definitely do an update this week I think. – John Cavan Dec 1 '14 at 21:42
  • @JohnCavan - shoot me an email when you're 100(ish)% sure what the community wants this changed to, and I'll see about it. – hairboat Dec 3 '14 at 6:58
  • @abbyhairboat - Will do. There hasn't been a lot of feedback, sadly. I might need to nudge some in chat. – John Cavan Dec 3 '14 at 11:24
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    The question now, I suppose, is there any reason I shouldn't make the adjustment I proposed? Obviously another moderator needs to approve. – John Cavan Dec 12 '14 at 20:42
  • FWIW, I'm for it. – Please Read My Profile Dec 12 '14 at 20:43
  • I'm going to update. @jrista - Next visit in, could you have a look. – John Cavan Dec 12 '14 at 20:44
  • I haven't deactivated the old one for the time being, otherwise it gets removed from the close dialog. So, once the new one is good, one of us can deactivate the old one. – John Cavan Dec 12 '14 at 20:49
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    @dpollitt - I've made the change, but the system requires one other mod to agree with me before it can be activated. – John Cavan Dec 31 '14 at 4:13
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    @jrista - Just a ping on this one. – John Cavan Dec 31 '14 at 4:14
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    @abbyhairboat - Thanks so much! – John Cavan Feb 28 '15 at 1:02
3

How about something like:

Questions seeking specific product or service recommendations, where the answer is likely to be either entirely personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets, are generally off topic here. Please rephrase your question to describe the problem you're trying to solve or what you do not understand that prevents you from determining the answer yourself.

The phrasing might need some work, but what I'm trying to convey is the idea that the person should tell us why they can't make the choice so that we can help clear that up rather than choosing for them.

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2

Product and service recommendations are highly dependent on individual situations. There are so many lenses on the market because each fills some need. Camera recommendations become obsolete quickly as new models replace older ones continuously. Instead, describe the specific problem you're trying to solve; a product or service may be the answer.

349 characters, by taking out the link. :)

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  • Although really, I'd like to keep the link; @jrista explains it well. – Please Read My Profile Dec 1 '14 at 22:31
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    Needs one character added to fill up all available space plz – dpollitt Dec 31 '14 at 3:56
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No, this is unneeded. If there isn't enough detail to make a clear answer, the question shouldn't be closed as off topic for being a product recommendation, it should be closed as either "primarily opinion based" if they scope their situation well, but there is no supportable subjective answer (see good subjective/bad subjective) or as "unclear what you are asking" if they don't provide enough detail to answer the question meaningfully.

Off-topic for reasons of product recommendation only really applies when the question IS well scoped, however the answer would not remain valid over time.

Though as mattdm did point out in comments, I suppose it is a little too definitive as some product recommendations may not change quickly. Perhaps changing to this would be good:

Questions seeking product or service recommendations are generally off-topic as they may become obsolete quickly. It is better to describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve so that guidance can be given that will work long term or at least narrowing it down to a few specific products to compare.

My only concern with such a change would be that it could invite debate about if something is really "likely to change quickly." That's kind of why I like the current standard of closing any "What product should I use for A?" but allowing questions like "Which product of x, y, z is better for A?". It is possible the former may change tomorrow, but nothing is going to change which of x, y and z is better for the situation.

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  • I disagree — we often get questions closed this way about things which aren't really likely to get out of date, and I perpetually feel the need to explain to the hapless newbie in comments. I'd like the explanation to be built in. – Please Read My Profile Dec 4 '14 at 14:37
  • I'd challenge we have been abusing the close reason as well. Why aren't we answering a product recommendation if it is a) well enough scoped to allow for a meaningful answer, b) not opinion based in a bad way and c) likely to remain consistent. – AJ Henderson Dec 4 '14 at 14:40
  • Because the current close reason seems definitive. If you'd like it to be less so, might I suggest proposing an alternate wording? :) – Please Read My Profile Dec 4 '14 at 14:42
  • More specifically, it feels like what some elements of the community really want is a "Too Localized" close reason and have been abusing the Product Recommendation close reason for those ends. "Too Localized" used to be a close reason and it was removed because it was subject to lots of abuse network wide. I don't think that is a good reason to close a question. – AJ Henderson Dec 4 '14 at 14:43
  • @mattdm - fair point, added a possible update to make it more clear that not all product recommendations are bad. I'm still not sure I like the idea of bringing any broad product recommendations (choose thing for x?) questions on topic vs the current (compare x, y and z for A) – AJ Henderson Dec 4 '14 at 14:48
  • Better, but I still cordially disagree. :) – Please Read My Profile Dec 4 '14 at 14:50
  • That's fair. :) Thanks for the suggestion though. – AJ Henderson Dec 4 '14 at 15:00

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