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See below for a quick edit to my original question!

I know the initial answer is "no", but hear me out on this. I'm primarily a computer nerd, but getting more into photography over time. For building PC's, there's a really awesome subreddit, https://www.reddit.com/r/buildapc. On top of being able to post what you're planning on building completely, you can also do something like post your current PC's part list, and ask what component is your bottleneck and get suggestions on what to buy given the amount you want to spend.

As a budding amateur photographer, I'm very interested in what gear I should buy. Now, I know what your initial reaction will be - "well, it depends on what you want to take pictures of" - and that's totally fair. Here's the thing - I don't know yet. I don't have a specialty. If I see something really small that I want a picture of, I'll take that. If I see a wide skyline, I'll take a picture of that. If I see a pretty scene but it's dark, I'll take a picture of that. Not having a specialty is part of what draws me to this site - I can learn something different from every question.

I also know that different people prefer different brands, and that the definition of quality is subjective - but still, I'm going to spend my money on something photography-related, so I'd rather an expert tell me whether it's a good or bad idea.

So, given my gear (say, a basic DSLR with the built-in lens), there's a huge range of things I could buy - lenses, bodies, flashes, tripods...too many nifty things to list. Is the Photography Stack Exchange a good place for me to ask what my next purchase should be to increase my skills and increase the quality of my images?

EDIT: I was looking through some other questions and found this message in an "On Hold" notification: "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 off topic here." - to that degree, I totally understand. On the other hand, maybe a more general question of "where should I focus next?" with potential answers like "master indoor flash" without mentioning a specific product might be useful to tons of up-and-coming photographers. I personally feel that such a question would not be short lived (sure, a sale for a specific flash may end next week, but the concept will surely remain), nor will it be a result of changing markets for the same reason.

What are your thoughts?

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    Do you have to ask post a question? Photography Chat seems eminently suitable for this. – muru Feb 27 '16 at 6:55
  • That's a good point - thanks! – Jake Feb 29 '16 at 17:35
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Think of it this way, if this stack exchange was focused on cars, and you've never owned a car - asking "what car should I buy" could return answers ranging from a family minivan to an exotic sports car. Ok so you have a budget? For $1,000 I'd get a Toyota Tacoma truck because they are tough as hell. Or maybe a 1991 BMW because they are so fun to drive.

Your PC building analogy is actually a good one. I'm assuming people don't head to that subreddit and ask how to build a computer without some criteria. For example building a computer to act as a server would be completely different than a computer to game on.

What I am getting at is that of course this is a good site to ask what type of equipment you would need to achieve the output that you desire. But when you ask those types of questions, we will need to understand at least some of the criteria that you are trying to achieve and not just an open ended set of options. If you go into that subreddit and say "I have xyz parts right now, what should I buy?" I would assume if they want to help you in any significant amount that they would also want to know what you are using the PC for, and it is no different here.

Do keep in mind that specific product recommendations are not what this site is for. Naming a specific tripod for example is not going to help anyone else but you out very much. What you can ask is what type of equipment would help with a blurry landscape photo for example.

  • All very true - thank you very much! I'll try to make my question more specific, and ask for help in a certain situation. – Jake Feb 29 '16 at 17:36
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It's still very broad and personal. Some people can spend a lifetime doing photography and never use flash, or a tripod, a macro lens - just depends on what they shoot. For a start I think you'd have to narrow it down to a specific type of photography you want to do, why you think maybe your gear is limiting you, and then ask for suggestion. If it's narrow enough it might work.

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One thing to keep in mind about Photo.SE (really, all SE sites) is the dual nature of questions: while the questioner is looking for specific answers to their query or problem, good questions are ones that have applicability to anybody searching Google for their problem (not even necessarily just searching Photo.SE). Questions like "What is moiré?" or "How can I get shallow depth of field" are fundamentally better questions for more people at large than individually-focused "what gear should I get next?" questions.

By "fundamentally better", I am partly referring to Stack Exchange's main goals (better Q&A, hopefully find a quick answer to your question); I am also partly referring to the sort-of ADD nature of most people on the internet now. While your question could be well-written, giving lots of context, etc., it still requires searchers to spend time (probably at least 90 seconds) determining the applicability your question to their situation.

Dpollitt alluded to this issue of broader applicability in his answer ("Naming a specific tripod for example is not going to help anyone else but you out very much").

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