Questions like Will rubber pavers hold up against Wisconsin winters?, are basically asking for product reviews. Should these types of questions be considered on topic, even though the answers will likely only contain opinions and/or stories?

2 Answers 2


Tricky one this. It might be one of those cases where it depends on the quality of the answers, or the specific question being asked.

On one level it will, as you say, elicit opinions and anecdotes, which would tend to make the question "not constructive" at best as each is easily valid.

Where it might work is questions like the one you linked to. You should be able to answer this objectively by posting the temperature range the manufacturer guarantees the product will perform under.

Where is doesn't work is questions like "Is this drill any good?" as the answer is "it depends on what you are going to do with it".

I think we have to take these on a case by case basis.

  • I base question on/off topicness on the types of answers it will likely receive, and unfortunately we tend to get many more not good answers than we do good answers. I would never expect a user to answer a question like this with the "temperature range the manufacturer guarantees the product will perform under", instead they will likely supply a link to reviews on Amazon. Or they'll tell a story about how they had some but then X happened, and it resulted in Y.
    – Tester101
    Apr 18, 2013 at 11:46

"Will this type of product work in my situation" is generic enough that it's not a "too localized" question, and I think it is possible for answers to be factual instead of story/opinion based. For example, someone could point out that rubber becomes brittle at colder temperatures and can't be installed deep enough to prevent frost heaving.

To me, I feel like a better question would have been "which type of paver will result in the least maintenance in a cold climate" which is more similar to a tool selection question. But the generic product review question is still good enough for me. That said, if they ask about a specific product, I'd consider closing it as too localized.

  • To circularize, how can this question be answered without knowing the specific brand? Why Brand A is better than B is the essence any product comparison. Sometimes anecdotal references are all we have. The drift of the comments by OP and others seems to support this (anecdotally).
    – HerrBag
    Apr 18, 2013 at 20:20
  • @HerrBag you can compare the advantages/disadvantages of rubber, concrete, crushed stone, mulch, etc, without needing to know individual brands. When advice is specific to a single brand, then it becomes much less useful to future visitors. If quality within a brand varies greatly, then explain how to evaluate the quality of a product rather than suggesting which brands are better.
    – BMitch Mod
    Apr 18, 2013 at 20:33
  • Both products and methodologies have half-lives of usefulness. Best Practice for either is a moving target. The flip side of too specific is too general (to be of specific use).
    – HerrBag
    Apr 18, 2013 at 20:49

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