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So I just got a can of polite and friendly moderation whupass handed to me on this issue (not realising it was one), and think it may be something which we should change.

I am new, and please don't take this is me complaining about "why my question was closed" (because I hope there's a sensible explanation for this rule). It's just that, well, I don't think I'm the only one who's tried to pull this one before.

The rule to which I am referring is thus in the FAQ:

NOT: a shopping or buying recommendation

From first principles I'd argue this rule seriously hinders the ability to help others: when someone comes to ask for help, and the best solution is a third party tool, shouldn't we recommend it? Any time we come with a question, aren't we indirectly asking for recommendations of other products, if they exist and can help us? By virtue of the question we do not know if they exist.

A hypothetical user asking about some unusual messages from diskutil might be pointed in the direction of DiskWarrior: is that wrong?

Consider also that in other places on meta we seem to have tacitly accepted recommendations. There is even a software recommendation tag!

Now, I find it highly specious that only software may be recommended, but not hardware. There just seems to be few good reasons for doing so. Likewise if a shopping or buying recommendation is not allowed due to the transaction of money, that would be the worst kind of free software fandom.

At the very least I must be badly misunderstanding the rules, so it would be wonderful if someone could enlighten me. But if this is a genuine inconsistency, per my arguments above, I think we should change the FAQ to remove the quoted rule.

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Covered here:

http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping/

Thus, when it comes to shopping questions, don’t ask us what you should buy — ask us what you need to learn to tell what you should buy.

  • That seems valid, thank you! Could we put this in the FAQ to tease out the subtle difference? – Swizzlr Aug 3 '11 at 9:58
  • @Thomas I added "for hardware" to the end of the line in the FAQs. – Nathan Greenstein Aug 3 '11 at 16:39

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