Is there something we can or should do about those forever opened questions about gear malfunction? It is pretty obvious that the objective is malfunctioning in this case, there are numerous similar question.
Most people with these questions are basically wondering one (or more) of:
- Am I doing something stupid, or is it really broken?
- Is there a magical trick which will avoid needing a real repair?
- If no magical trick, is DIY repair possible?
- How to do a specific DIY repair?
- And how would the DIY price and effort compare to sending it in?
- And, is it worth it?
Of these, only #6 is really problematic, since that's a personal judgment. #5 might be also be hard to answer, but there are cases like How much does it cost to replace a DSLR shutter? which seem useful and have helpful answers.
For the others, I don't think answering with "here's how to contact a repair center" is really a helpful answer. If the answer is "it's broken, there's no trick, and you can't really DIY", that's fine.
I do understand the general irritation, though, because (especially as you get to outlining specific repairs), these aren't really photography questions... they're gear questions, and "camera repair person" is a different job/skillset/hobby from Photography. So, there's a case we could make for just calling repair questions off-topic. If we want to do that, I think having a custom close reason pointing to a meta question listing the resources James Snell suggests is better than using "duplicate".
If we do decide to leave these as on-topic, I think it's better to work on canonical answers for "stuck zoom", "lens error", "mirror stuck", "doesn't turn on" and whatever else. (And yeah, in some cases, that canonical answer really is gonna be "in this case, you need to send it in" — again, that seems fine.)
Finally, another thing we can do is really work to make sure the troubleshooting tag is on each of these questions. See What value does the [troubleshooting] tag have? — then, people who really hate these could add them to their list of filtered-out tags.
The option I considered was to post a 'how to get my camera repaired' type question.
A good answer could direct users to the manufacturer's service centre for in-warranty repairs and then make other recommendations for finding reputable local repairers for more cost effective solutions out of warranty servicing.
Other questions can then get closed as duplicates of that.
Is there something we can or should do about those forever opened questions about gear malfunction?
We should answer them. Or point to existing answers when appropriate, of course.
These are the kinds of questions where the Stack Exchange format shines best. A lot of what we cover is general knowledge that could as easily be picked up from a good introductory book on photography. The times when someone really needs to tap into the collective experience of many different photographers are the times when things go wrong in ways that are unlikely to be described in any manual.
Sure, the "what do I do with this stuck lens" questions might seem repetitive. Building a library of canonical answers as mattdm suggests is the right thing to do -- that's exactly how Stack Exchange is supposed to work.
It is pretty obvious that the objective is malfunctioning in this case, there are numerous similar question.
It might be obvious to you, but people don't ask questions when they think the answer is obvious. And we get all kinds of questions with "obvious" answers. What should we do about the constant influx of exposure triangle questions? What should we do about crop factor questions? Insert any photography topic you like -- the answer is write the best answer you can and then refer people to it.
I think most of these questions concern gear retailers and brands, so the most relevant thing to do is to contact the brand support/customer service/aftersale desk.
It's their job to adress these issues and it brings nothings to the good folk here to have 90 % of the topics that are just focus and flash problems instead of real photographic questions (see Please stop downvoting perfectly good questions about actual photography).