We have a ban on shopping recommendation questions because:

  • They require us to mind-read what the asker's tastes are (no matter how thoroughly they try to describe their tastes)
  • Voting patterns on their answers don't reflect usefulness, but rather a popularity poll

This ban is good and right. These questions simply don't fit our format.

But do we actually need the ban, and its custom vote-to-close reason anymore? The ban was created when we didn't have "primarily opinion-based" as a reason to close. Now that we have that, isn't a custom shopping-rec close reason a strict subset of the more general reason, and therefore redundant?

This isn't enough to get rid of the reason, of course, because if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But I think it may be broke. I'm now seeing the language "Questions that ask which games or other products meet specific criteria are off topic" used to argue that non-rec, non-ITG questions that simply contain criteria are off topic. This doesn't help anyone, and is a brokenness that turns apathy about redundancy into slight alarm. If we start using the text of the custom close votes as policy, completely free-floating from what the actual original ban was for, we're getting into wacky, textual fundamentalism that is not healthy for the site.

So, should we ditch the shopping-rec ban, rewrite that close reason to be just about the ban on Identify This Game questions, and just let "primarily opinion-based" take care of all recommendations in a more natural way?

  • 3
    That close reason is for more than just shopping recommendations. It's also for open ended list-type questions, and game identification/recommendation questions, too.
    – Frank
    Oct 31 '13 at 15:13
  • @fbueckert I mentioned ITG. I did say "rewrite", not just erase wholesale. And: I'm unaware that that close reason is about lists. It doesn't mention lists, nor does it provide any useful guidance to askers about our actual reason why their list question was closed. Isn't that what "too broad" is for? Oct 31 '13 at 15:16
  • "What games have feature X?" - List question, completely open-ended, and fits the close criteria exactly. In fact, we've done exactly that on questions.
    – Frank
    Oct 31 '13 at 15:18
  • 1
    @fbueckert Aside, this question is entirely unrelated to the exchange of comments we just had. That would have been a very different meta question. Oct 31 '13 at 15:18
  • 3
    @fbueckert Yeah, "too broad" covers that: "There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format." My aim here is to make sure we're not inventing uses for custom close reasons, based on their text, that the custom close reason was not intended to be used for. That way lies madness. Close text follows policy made on meta, not policy is made by accidents of how someone wrote the close text. Oct 31 '13 at 15:19
  • 10
    The close reason is worded as it is, at least in part, because in the past we have had to deal with "I DON'T WANT A RECOMMENDATION, I DON'T CARE ABOUT OPPONIONS I JUST WANT TO KNOW THE NAMES OF GAMES WITH $FEATURE". Idiots will try to rules lawyer their way around what's written, as written, no matter how we write it. The best we can do is simply be as clear and comprehensive and succinct as possible. Oct 31 '13 at 15:28
  • 1
    @LessPop_MoreFizz So that close reason is for three things, including lists of games with feature X? OK. In any case, as it's not the shopping-rec purpose, is that pertinent to the suggestion we remove shopping rec and rewrite it to more overtly describe the ban on the remaining question types? Oct 31 '13 at 15:32
  • 5
    @SevenSidedDie Using close text wording to justify closing things that were never intended to be covered is something I also feel happens a little too often and has driven one or two metas and some lengthy chat discussions. The most recent example is this question, which perfectly fits that close reason criteria but in my opinion doesn't have the problems typically associated with that class of question. It's borderline enough that I'm not voting to reopen though.
    – Sterno
    Oct 31 '13 at 16:01
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    A better example is when people would vote to close any question that mentioned piracy or when a question that is perfectly fine otherwise has some context mentioning that the person wants to know because they're trying to decide whether to buy something or not, which triggers the "it's about shopping... close as shopping-rec!" flag in people's brains. It's those situations that I'm worried about. Basically, people need to be aware of why the close reason exists and what it's trying to prevent, not just do keyword matching.
    – Sterno
    Oct 31 '13 at 16:04
  • @Sterno Hah, nice piracy example there. ;) Guilty as charged. Clearly, I am reforming! Oct 31 '13 at 16:53
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    @Sterno This is pretty much exactly the stuff I'm seeing that concerns me. I see "They mentioned shopping in a question about an objective fact! close close close" fairly often. Perhaps, then, rather than mucking with close text rewriting, we simply need a master meta enumerating our few specific bans with a summary of why and a link to their original metas? Grace Note briefly mentions our few bans in the lore meta; a reference like that, but stand-alone and with specific detail might be valuable as a FAQ for new 3k+ users? Oct 31 '13 at 16:59
  • 1
    Another possibility is to take a look at @kalina's attempt to mark appropriate meta posts with the faq tag and add relevant ones there.
    – Sterno
    Oct 31 '13 at 17:21
  • 1
    @Sterno I think that's already happening. But in a comment argument about whether a question should be closed, being able to say "Well hold on, let's consult the list" and look at one document with all the possible reasons side-by-side would be more effective than sifting through the whole [faq] tag. Oct 31 '13 at 17:26
  • You have a point.
    – Sterno
    Oct 31 '13 at 17:28
  • 2
    I'm very much with Less, I've found repeatedly on other sites that users respond much better to "Sorry, we don't do this kind of question" than to "Your question solicits opinions!". The latter just leads to arguments we've had a thousand times, whereas the former is not so much debatable without good reason. Oct 31 '13 at 17:30

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