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I was trying to respond to a comment from the OP on this question today. I was about to point him to the FAQ to say "shopping list quesions" and "computer hardware questions" are explicitly forbidden in the FAQ, but I noticed they were not mentioned directly at all.

I guess my question/request is should these prohibitions be added to the FAQ?

I realize that the FAQ does cover what to ask quite well and no where does it come close to suggesting that hardware questions are acceptable nor is there a mention of shopping lists (like there is on SuperUser's FAQ). But given the fact that the OP seemed to think this was perfectly on-topic, maybe the FAQ should be updated?

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"Computer hardware questions" doesn't seem necessary : it's clear that's not the purpose of SO and we don't have so many questions on this topic. –  dystroy Sep 15 '12 at 13:05
@dystroy you are probably right, but I do see them from time-to-time from relatively new users who are not familiar with the other SE sites. –  psubsee2003 Sep 15 '12 at 13:06
@dystroy Don't tell me that you've neva seen those Sun glasses and Headset ads.. –  Bhuvan Rikka 웃 Sep 15 '12 at 13:07
@BhuvanRikka As if spammers would read the FAQ... –  Bart Sep 15 '12 at 13:12
@Bart Like they would care even after reading it ;) –  Bhuvan Rikka 웃 Sep 15 '12 at 13:13
Which FAQ, this one or this one? The latter already covers it. –  casperOne Sep 15 '12 at 13:16
@casperOne I was specifically referring to the official FAQ and not the meta question. While the meta question is a great resource, it's not as obvious/easy to find as the FAQ –  psubsee2003 Sep 15 '12 at 13:18
See Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping, and feel free to use this link as context when explaining to other users that shopping list questions don't really belong, not just here but on any Stack Exchange site. –  jmort253 Sep 15 '12 at 16:30
Related: Why are “shopping list” questions bad? –  gnat Jun 21 '13 at 11:02

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

These are already covered in the FAQ; there's no need to add anything else.

"Hardware" questions are excluded by the What questions can I ask here? section

[...] if your question generally covers …

  • a specific programming problem
  • a software algorithm
  • software tools commonly used by programmers
  • practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question!

Hardware isn't anywhere on this list.

Shopping list questions are covered by the What kind of question should I not ask here? section:

You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.


To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite __?”
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I agree. The points quoted in this answer use software, or programming; I don't think it would be possible to be confused about hardware questions. –  kiamlaluno Sep 15 '12 at 16:18
Also, the faq can't cover everything. New users just have to understand that if members of the community say X is off-topic, that person should reasonably accept that topic X is off-topic, since the community members sort of have some experience with the topic of the site. –  jmort253 Sep 15 '12 at 16:27

As already said in the comments, I don't see the point for "Computer hardware questions" : it's clear that's not the purpose of SO and we don't have so many questions on this topic. Besides it's easy to migrate the few questions we have to superuser.com (when they're good questions).

Regarding the "shopping list questions" : It seems hard to let it enter in today's faq format as you could hardly just say that without a few lines detailing what questions are considered as "shopping list questions".

What I feel we need, or at least would do better, would be a polite, pedagogic and detailed list of "what question not to ask on Stack Overflow", to which we could (politely) redirect people when trying to explain why a question doesn't fit.

But it was decided this wasn't good for SO.

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