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Background: Do we scare off new users?

Shopping questions are generally off topic here -- see Why is there so much hostility to 'what should I buy' and 'shopping' questions? for background). I think this is a good thing, because it would be easy for the site to get overwhelmed with such questions, driving out questions about photographic technique, approaches, and solutions -- and more importantly, driving out people who want to focus on those things.

Previously, the idea of a site specifically for this seemed like a nonstarter, but the Software Recommendations beta seems to be going well, so maybe the Stack Exchange network as a whole is ready.

So, I've created a proposal for Camera Shopping Stack Exchange on Area51 (SE's process for creating new sites). Who's in?

  • I vaguely recall someone trying something very similar on Area 51 a while back, and I'm sure I had some interaction with it, but I really can't find it now. – Philip Kendall Apr 19 '15 at 22:46
  • @PhilipKendall I remember too, but also couldn't find it. My thinking is: successful launch of softwarerecs site may change the picture. – mattdm Apr 19 '15 at 22:47
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Software Recommendations is on its 15th month in beta and only has 58% of questions getting answers. Contrast with Photo.SE, which has close to 98% answered questions. So I wouldn't say it's Software Rec is going all that well -- certainly not well enough to justify a whole new site to handle just one category of our off topic questions.

There's a long list of sites that provide complete reviews and, often, head to head comparisons of photography gear. Such sites do a better job than a SE site ever could because the reviews are done by a single person or a small group of people working from a consistent viewpoint. With a good review site, you'll get one detailed and thoughtful "answer" that answers the question "Is the [Canon|Nikon|Olympus|Pentax|Sony|Fuji][DKX]*[0-9]*[DX]* right for me?" Take the reviews on DigitalRevTV, for example: you might love watching Kai Wong's antics, or he might drive you crazy, but at least you know what you're getting with him.

With a SE site, on the other hand, you'd potentially get lots of brief answers or occasionally a long thoughtful one, but always from different people with unknown viewpoints. The result would be not unlike Amazon reviews, where practically every item gets a lot of good reviews from people who own that item and think everyone else should own it too, and some bad reviews from people who bought something else instead, or who had a bad customer service experience or something. And since Amazon already does that, replicating it on SE doesn't add a lot of value.

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    I'm going to go ahead and accept this as the answer. Note that the proposal got very little overall support and was therefore deleted. – mattdm Jul 19 '15 at 18:32
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I don't think I can support this.

There are plenty of sites that already help people determine what camera to purchase and even then it would be hard to ignore our own bias with the equipment they already own. At least I don't this too many people have Canon 1DC and a Nikon D4S.

One of the reasons why we close the shopping questions is because of their "limited temporal value"


Suppose this goes through.

What good will today's questions be in five years when everything has been replaced?


Just browsing software recommendations their questions seem to describe problems that may still exist in a few years.

Our shopping questions are about transitioning to a point and shoot to a DSLR or just flat out purchasing their first camera without that much background info (what they shoot, what qualities are important, price range, and others).

So we'd still have to flag questions for being too vague or ask for an update and new users seldom revise their questions.


I've thought about this a lot before I posted that question. I could be wrong, but I don't think this is the best solution. There does have to be something though.

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    Fair enough — this is basically the "stack exchange really doesn't work for this" answer. – mattdm Apr 17 '15 at 13:05
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Camera shopping is technology shopping and technology shopping advice around individual products becomes stale within a year. Stack Exchange is more intended to be "advice in timestamped stone". There are dedicated resources for shopping advice, particularly http://dpreview.com/ and e-tailers like http://bhphotovideo.com and http://amazon.com/

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