Can we get the commonly used close reason of "shopping questions not allowed" added?

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because questions seeking recommendations for specific products or places to purchase them are off-topic as they are rarely useful to others and quickly obsolete. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.

That text is taken direct from the ElectronicEngineering SE. Their help pages have:

and it is not about …

  • a shopping or buying recommendation

It does make a bit of a grey line with our help files:

On topic:

Board recommendations. Make sure to include detailed information about the project you are doing and your requirements. If your question is too vague, it may be put on hold.

Asking which board would be best for a specific job, or finding out the differences between boards, I would say is fine. Asking where to buy something from, or a vague "I can't buy X because I can't find it in my local shop, what could I get instead?" should be closed as off topic.

This gives a definite reason why the question is closed, not just vague "too broad" or "opinion based" or "unclear what you're asking".

The blog post linked in the close reason text above (and copied here so you don't have to scroll up) gives a good discussion about the sentiment behind it.

  • Do you have any recent questions that warrant this? I am wondering how often you find that such a close reason could be useful.
    – Nick Gammon Mod
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:05
  • It's one that is used all the time on EE, and we do get quite a lot of annoying pointless shopping questions which really aren't of any benefit to the site as a whole, only to the one user that is asking it. We do have a Hardware Recommendations SE these days where users can be directed.
    – Majenko
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:06
  • We are required to consult with the community before adding more close reasons, so let's wait and see what others think. :)
    – Nick Gammon Mod
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:09
  • @NickGammon I have fleshed the proposal out with more detail.
    – Majenko
    Dec 16, 2016 at 22:33
  • @NickGammon: Do you have any recent questions that warrant this? Here are some not so recent but still.... arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/18277/…, arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/20524/…, arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/6769/…, arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/11640/…
    – Dat Ha
    Dec 20, 2016 at 0:09
  • Finding them is not that easy, since they often get closed for other reasons (I know I close them for other reasons - sometimes even using the text above) - so they disappear from the listings. We don't suffer as much as EE, which on an average day has two or three just on the front page - often more. I shall flag them up here as they arrive though.
    – Majenko
    Dec 20, 2016 at 0:15
  • One just cropped up: arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/32603/ir-laser-speckle
    – Majenko
    Dec 23, 2016 at 22:16
  • And another: arduino.stackexchange.com/questions/32610/…
    – Majenko
    Dec 24, 2016 at 11:23
  • It's really tempting to have this reason, on the other hand there are a fair number of posters whose key problem is that they bought the wrong thing (classically a bipolar bridge motor shield, or in some cases, an Arduino for a problem where it is not a resonable solution) so an outright ban on shopping questions may not always be unproductive. Many of them can be closed as off topic since they aren't really about Arduino but about something else - like that laser module one. Dec 31, 2016 at 2:09

2 Answers 2


It seems we moderators have the power to add a new reason for closing as off-topic, although it needs more than one of us to approve it.

To guide us, please vote up Majenko's suggestion if you approve of it (and vote it down if you don't). Comments or replies can also be used to argue for or against this proposal.

  • Perhaps we should widen this question? There are three slots for custom close reasons. IMHO, too many questions are closed for being "Unclear what you are asking" when, in reality, it is perfectly clear what is being asked - it's just that "Unclear what you are asking" is being used as a catch-all where there isn't a better alternative. May 23, 2019 at 20:51
  • @sempaiscuba By all means vote up my answer as a way of approving it, also Majenko's (if you haven't already). What is the specific wording you want to add?
    – Nick Gammon Mod
    May 23, 2019 at 21:44
  • Oh, I'm quite happy with the wording for this reason. I just think that before we add one new custom close reason, we should try to get consensus on what all our custom close reasons should be. This answer to another question here on meta illustrates the problem I was talking about. May 23, 2019 at 21:56

With respect to Nick's answer:

please vote up Majenko's suggestion if you approve of it [...]

I take it that this proposal is accepted by the community.

I would like to ask the moderators to include it in the help center's page on on-topicness as part of standing policy. The help center is the place where we would point new users to to learn about how to use the site. It is also more likely1 for new users to check the help center vs. going through a site's meta to figure out what is on-topic and what is not.

Something along the line of the snippet taken from EE should do fine. If you like it could be fleshed out a little more to outline what kind of questions are ok that are related to purchasing recommendations. This is from RaspberryPi.SE:

[...] However, if you have a specific product and you want to know if it is suitable for a specific purpose [...], that's fine. Asking what to look for in a kind of product is also fine [...].

1) I accept the fact that both probabilities are rather small unfortunately.

  • Activity on this page is fairly limited. :) However I have no objection to the proposal. What was the specific proposed wording you had in mind?
    – Nick Gammon Mod
    May 23, 2019 at 21:45

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