There are a handful of questions where the OP wants a cheap, or the cheapest option. There are cases where you cannot really give them a good answer because they claim that every option is above their budget.

In some cases the constraints that they put on make it impossible to answer the question, or at least give a good answer.

Should these kind of questions be closed or put on hold until the budget constraint can be removed, or modified to the point where the question can have a definite answer?

Here are a few examples of questions like this:

They would like to soundproof their door for under $20. The best answer would be to replace the door with one that is solid core. Obviously, that is way above their budget.

How can I soundproof my door?

The question here is very vague, and they are looking for a free fix to some problem that they are not even describing very well.

What is the cheapest way to stiffen a tube/pipe?

Here is another example where it is very difficult to give a good answer.

What is the cheapest/easiest way to make bookshelves?

Questions like the ones above seem like a waste of time, especially because the answers are not getting very many upvotes.

  • The challenge here is coming up with an off topic reason the community agrees on for "I don't want to fix this right, I'd rather fix it cheap or quick" questions.
    – BMitch Mod
    Commented Feb 22, 2016 at 23:42
  • 2
    Love the bookshelf question because he can apparently afford a Kindle without a second thought, but something like MDF for shelves - that's just too much $$!
    – JPhi1618
    Commented Feb 24, 2016 at 20:56

5 Answers 5


Sometimes a cheap fix that last a few years is what is needed. For example if a shed roof is leaking, but the shed is going to be replaced in a few years time.

Sometimes the questions can still have a great answer for example “How can I soundproof my door?” could have a great answer starting off with the need to seal air gaps round the door, then explaining that a heaver weight door is needed to get much sound reduction. An answer saying that "cheap" solutions will not work for a problem like this is of great value.

Likewise there are cheap ways to make footpaths that are 100 times better then mud, even if they will not last for more then a few years.

(But I am not spending my time writing a long answer for a question that is 1 month old and has only got 62 views!)


I'd be happy to see these questions closed as off topic since they are related to pricing especially if they are looking for a product recommendation.

Pricing questions are identified as off topic since prices change over time and location, so another visitor will be very unlikely to find the question useful, and other users of the site may not have local context to give a good answer. For example, brick is very cheap in many foreign locations and a common building supply, while wood is the most cost effective product used in the many parts of the US.

I'm also not a fan of the "I don't want to fix it right, I want to fix it quick or cheap" questions out there. If there's wording that the community agrees on to make something like that off topic, I'll be a big supporter.

Note, these are my personal opinion, so I'll often avoid voting to close gray area questions since my vote with the mod role is binding.

  • Yes, however it might still be useful to say "this material is an option, this material is also an option, the latter tends to sell for less"...
    – rogerdpack
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 18:00
  • 1
    Options are ok, but just because a paperclip can fix a broken power cord for less money doesn't mean that's a good answer. The problem is that the question is broken, not so much the answer.
    – BMitch Mod
    Commented Feb 23, 2016 at 19:01

I believe I'm quoting @BMitch when I say:

Sometimes the best answer is no.


I think the bookshelf question seems "too broad" as it were. I mean the answer is basically, "Anything you can get for free."

The tube question is fairly similar, though not quite as bad because it's a bit more about the structural properties of tubing.

Soundproofing the door is actually probably the best one of the bunch, because you can scale up/down technology/cost, ranging from quilts/blankets/cardboard, up to professional soundproofing equipment like you might find in a recording studio.


I think the a good answer would be to say, "I don't see how it could be done with this budget. The cheapest solution I can think of that would be worth doing is ... and would cost ..." An answer that gave several alternatives of different costs and explained the advantages of the more expensive solution would be better still.

I don't think closing the question would be a good idea. The whole point of keeping questions on the site is so that if others have a similar question, they can see the answer. If the real answer is, "The cheapest you can do this for and have any sort of decent job is $200", someone who was hoping to do it for $5 might be disappointed. But better to know that than to not be allowed to ask the question.

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