This is sort of a follow up to this question from a while ago: New custom close reason for shopping questions

However, that question took a bit of a turn into whether or not we replace any of our existing ones with a shopping request one. However my suggest is different.

Should we add an additional close reason for Shopping Requests? It's possible that the Stack Exchange team can add an additional close reason ontop of the 3 we currently have, should there be demand, desire and need for it.

Personally, I think yes. Judging by some questions from the past few months I think they would have benefited from being able to be closed specifically as a Shopping Request. Some of them were closed as 'implementation'. Some were closed as 'opinion based' and some as 'too broad' but none of those reasons are really accurate enough.

I already have a set comment I find myself using on shopping request questions when I close them which I feel may be appropriate to use as the close reason text:

Sorry, but questions requesting recommendations for tools / books / software / apps / papers etc. would fall into the shopping request category and aren't really suitable to a Q&A website. The reason for this is that there is no one correct answer, and such recommended items would soon be updated and replaced with newer / better versions making the best answers redundant.

So, what do we think? Would a new, specific Shopping Request close reason be needed, or do we already have the appropriate close reasons to make this unnecessary?

Here are some example questions from the past few months that I feel would've benefited from this close reason.





Color Contrast Tools as part of Website

3 Answers 3


If we by Shopping Request also include tools (as you have written in your question), I agree that today's close reason doesn't match and need to have a Shopping Request close reason. On SharePoint.SE we have a close reason for commercial third party tools, which isn't the same but in the same abstracted class.

So definitely yes, a Shopping Request close reason as you suggest is really needed.

A recent example: https://ux.stackexchange.com/questions/72222/which-content-management-system-is-ideal-for-a-public-domain-library


I have the gut feeling that at least half of Stack Exchange sites close shopping requests. As far as I know, none of them has it listed among the closing reasons. The questions are closed as "primarily opinion based", and I think the classification is reasonable - if several competing products have survived on a market, it is up to personal preference which one to use.

If it seems appropriate to point users to a written rule, pointing to Jeff Atwood's old blog post (originally written for Super User's recommendation ban) is practiced sometimes.

  • 1
    Actually, some of the biggest sites in this network have Shopping Request close reasons - as shown here. The trouble with 'Opinion Based' reason is the wording: "Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." Product recommendations will include references (link to product) and specific expertise ("As a UX designer I use X").
    – JonW Mod
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 9:14
  • As a result we get users saying "It's not opinion based because I want to know what the most popular product is" or "I want specific expertise from this community, so it's not an opinion based question". Things like that. If we have a specific 'No Shopping Request' reason then it removes the ambiguity.
    – JonW Mod
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 9:15
  • @JonW I see where you're coming from, but not every situation requires you to cater to obstinate/misunderstanding users (although we UXers have an instinct to always do so). For a person who knows the Stack Exchange philosophy, it is clear that "expertise" here means a personal conviction about objective facts, for example saying "I think that many users won't find your FAQ if you only link you from the Contact us page" (there is an objective ratio of users who will find it and the expert is giving a intuitive estimate for it), and not a true statement about a personal fact, such as...
    – Rumi P.
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 9:25
  • ... "I like Axure more than Pencil, it looks slicker". As for the "which is the most popular one", you can tell them that then this would be a poll question, which would also be closed anyway. In general, you are not in the situation where the only way you communicate with the users is through prepackaged blurbs of text, so you don't have to aim for zero ambiguity; the moderators and other users can react to each situation. And it is OK to tell a dissenting user "you misunderstood the rule, and my decision stands". They will find ways to misread the rules no matter how you write them.
    – Rumi P.
    Commented Jul 30, 2014 at 9:30

EDIT: I just learned that there's a new Software Recommendations Beta. We could probably migrate software-specific shopping requests there.

For all other requests...

I support the addition of this close reason and would phrase the explanation more succinctly as:

Requests for products are unsuitable for a Q&A site because they have no one correct answer and quickly become outdated.

Please edit your question to ask for a solution to a specific problem that you hope to solve with this product.

(Both paragraphs could appear on the closed question's page. The first paragraph could appear alone in the Close vote dialog.)

Some specific things I changed are:

  • replacing the long list of things with the more generic "products." This change is partially to avoid implicitly limiting the list to those categories and partially because I think requests for papers should be allowed because their research may still apply years later.
  • replacing "redundant" with outdated. The cost of having multiple answers is small compared to having the top-rated answers be out-of-date because the newer answers are hidden at the bottom of the page.

  • adding a suggestion of how to improve the question so that it can be re-opened. We could also link to a new section of the help center giving more details as to how such questions can be reworded, such as "Ask about the underlying problem you are trying to solve. For example, rather than asking what wireframing software to buy, research the available software yourself and then ask a question about a key differentiator you see; if you notice that one of the products you're considering is remarkably low fidelity, you could ask about whether low fidelity wireframes are preferable in a particular context."

  • Until Software Recommendations graduates, it's not even going to be considered for a migration target.
    – ChrisF
    Commented May 5, 2015 at 9:02

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