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We haven't actually established an official anti-shopping recommendation policy. There has been one off-hand suggestion and one strangely scoped and strangely phrased question.

Super User has such a clause of their own, and pretty much all of the same concepts that apply there also apply here. And, as our resident SU mod wrote in an answer,

we should teach people how to catch a fish rather than to point him to the best fishing rod

This is something we've been silently abiding by, encouraging questions like these two, while discouraging questions like these two. So I've been thinking that we should make this an official policy that we add to our FAQ. This gives us something in our FAQ that can actually be linked to when these come up, which is the primary benefit.

This doesn't change the scope of our handling of hardware/software (although, there is some leniency I think we can add, but that's a topic for another meta question), and this should not be confused with our other recommendation services. This is targetting questions asking about money, budget, or marketplace - questions that in essence ask what should be purchased.

So... yay or nay on this policy? Go, discuss open your thoughts! ♪

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    I don't think I need to express myself any further, but yay for trying to make it official! – Ivo Flipse Dec 1 '10 at 13:45
  • I'd vote to kill any question which asks for a recommendation or other inherently subjective opinion. – tzenes Dec 1 '10 at 17:34
  • Great, I figured that I could start looking at some of the less controversial issues, but chat seems to be indicating that my upcoming leniency of hardware/tech is going to be the next big thing. My timing is horrific. – Grace Note Dec 2 '10 at 22:16
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Yay!

I'm in favor of this policy, upvote this answer if you agree.

If you disagree, add a new answer with an explanation please.

Thank you oh benevolent dictators/moderation team/overlords for your latest policy suggestion!

(We would like a yay vote answer to upvote right? Something about not being sure a vote on the question is in favor of the policy or just the topic being important?)

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    As this is a discussion, not a feature-request, I would indeed much prefer we had a "yes" answer than to vote on the question as a mode of confirmation (for the very reason that it is in fact confusing). When we get a naysayer, then we can get an equivalent "no" answer. My vote is a given so instead I'll vote you up to represent your own support (I am assuming you are in fact backing this aye, aye?) – Grace Note Dec 1 '10 at 22:28
  • @GraceNote Yep, I'm in favor. – WillfulWizard Dec 1 '10 at 22:32
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    As this isn't a hotly contested subject, I don't think we need a whopping 3 weeks to make a decision. In fact, it was pretty much already in effect, just silently so. So until contested, let's solidify ourselves a No Shopping Recommendations policy. ♪ – Grace Note Dec 7 '10 at 16:40
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I think a good guideline to follow when deciding whether a question should be acceptable or not is how localized is it.

A question like "is specific-graphics-card A better than specific-graphics-card B for playing games at X resolution" is valid, in my opinion, even though it mentioned two very specific products. It may not interest anyone in two years, but it will still be correct. I do agree it should be closed as a duplicate of a "how to compare graphics cards" question.

On the other hand, a question like "what's the best website for buying PSN credits" may have a lot of value but it's very temporary - the answer might become radically different in a year. Maintenance for all questions of these types is untenable, and I would really hate to see us become one of these places online where you can find the exact answer to what you were looking for - only it's outdated by 3 years.

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    We should take care not to confuse the motivation behind asking a question as being the actual nature of the question, as we should judge on the latter. For example, the user asking this question is doing it for shopping advice, but the nature of the question is a technical comparison. For the same reason, I'd consider that your first example is not actually much of a shopping recommendation since it is a comparison that addresses a technical requirement rather than a mere "Which should I buy?". – Grace Note Dec 1 '10 at 14:55
  • That all said, I also agree with marking it as a duplicate. – Grace Note Dec 1 '10 at 15:06
  • We don't have a really good "how to compare graphics card" question yet, or at least I did not see one. And very often even specific hardware questions are answered in a very general way (see the question linked by Grace, answered by Jeff and myself). – Mad Scientist Dec 2 '10 at 19:59

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