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I do a lot of closures on the main Stack Overflow site so I've seen more than a few recommendation requests. While DIY is a different subject set, I've been increasingly baffled by people wanting to close questions for product recommendations for what is arguably an open request for a DIY solution.

Case in point: Central supports for bed (Close queue)

It even has this comment

VTC - Questions seeking product recommendations are off topic here

The problem is I don't see a product recommendation request. In fact, the accepted answer mentions no specific products at all. Compare it to this question, where the product recommendation is explicit.

We need to have a better standard of closure here. I am proposing we have this as our standard

  1. Questions directly asking for a service or product should be closed
  2. Questions describing a problem should be left open

I'm basing this on Community Manager guidance for Stack Overflow

"Recommendation question" is shorthand for "you didn't describe a problem, you just asked for a list of things."

Most DIY questions need a push in the right direction, and mentioning and linking products to a general question. If we're going to close all the DIY questions where a product would solve the problem we're not going to have many questions left to answer.

  • I almost completely agree. The issue is when the question is: "I need to solve XYZ; is there a product for that?", which is problematic when the OP suggests that they have no interest in "doing something" to solve it, they just want to buy something. I agree with you on the bed example. Maybe the test in those cases is whether the question can be tweaked to "how can I accomplish that" without changing the intent of the question. – fixer1234 Mar 16 '18 at 4:45
  • I just tweaked the bed question wording so that it doesn't appear to be a product request. – fixer1234 Mar 16 '18 at 4:55
  • My personal opinion is that product recommendations should be allowed on all SE sites because it's usually useful to others. The real test should be "is this question/answer set useful to more people than the OP". Sometimes the solution to a problem is to buy a product. – Nick Mar 22 '18 at 3:21
  • @Nick it's without a doubt useful for another, but until when? In 1 or 2 years, the product might have gone and replaced by different product rendering the answer obsolete. That's the problem with product recommendation question. Instead of recommending specific products, explain which kind of product with specific criteria that could help solve the problem. After that, mentioning a product example as a bonus is acceptable. – Andrew T. Mar 27 '18 at 8:00
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Questions on the site should be of the form

How do I solve this problem?

with sufficient detail about the problem of course.

Then the answer is how to solve that problem, be it

Do this procedure

or

Buy this product

etc.

This should be the same across the network, the only problem being that on some sites people abuse the system so questions that are clearly product recommendations tend to get shut down quite quickly.

I think we should be fine here as long as the questions can be rephrased as above.

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My personal dividing line is if the question invites products as a potential answer, making users unfamiliar with the site likely to be accidentally labeled as a spammer. The site feels more inviting if new users aren't encouraged to post content that would get them banned from the site after a single mistake.

Even the first linked question I personally see as a product recommendation request (holding off on posting my own binding close vote in case I'm way off base). While the problem was stated, the insufficient solutions are two off the shelf products, and the question at the end was looking for an "option" which feels like a synonym for "product" in the context of the question.

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