I ran across https://hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com/q/24/1 today, with Robert Cartaino leaving this comment:

"Hardware Recommendations" was created for questions seeking a specific hardware products given a set of definitive requirements. If your question involved general computing or hardware issues, it can likely be asked on Super User; but nevertheless, it is outside the scope of this site. – Robert Cartaino ♦ 9 hours ago

I would agree with this, on largely the same basis as Robert's answer here, but I figure we should discuss it as a community.

So: Are questions that ask why one would by a thing on topic?

  • Does Software Recs handle these types of questions? If so, how do you handle it there? (Sorry, I'm not familiar enough with the site to know all of the posting criteria over there)
    – Andy Mod
    Sep 17, 2015 at 13:53
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    @Andy No, SR rejects these questions. It isn't a . But the situation is different on SR and HR. The reason to keep such questions out of SR was to leave them on more specialized sites with better expertise. HR has a well-defined focus of expertise: computer-related hardware, and as such is a better place for such questions than any other site in the network including SU. Sep 17, 2015 at 14:11

3 Answers 3


This is debatable, but being so restrictive at this stage is not very encouraging.

In this particular case, there is no request for a recommendation, so it can be categorized as off-topic. However, we can still ask the author to improve the question because we should avoid resignation of users from creating a new community

Sometimes the question is about the advantages or disadvantages of the hardware, but it is still a request for a recommendation.

The author does not always have to be an expert in a given field and wants to "figure out" what is important to consider.

  • 1
    "Sometimes the question is about the advantages or disadvantages of the hardware, but it is still a request for a recommendation." - If that is the criteria, I think it needs to be clearly phrased as a recommendation. Asking differences is fine, but if you want to focus on the recommendation part, the question should reflect that. (Basically, can you expand on this sentence to make it a little clearer what you are arguing for/against?). The way I am reading you comment is that these questions are fine as long as it ends with "what do you recommend, based on these differences?"
    – Andy Mod
    Sep 17, 2015 at 14:08
  • 1
    I agree that it have to be clearly phrased as a recommendation but what if an author has only general requirements? These question should not be treated as off-topic. We should focus on encouraging users to support community rather than determining sharp boundaries. Sep 17, 2015 at 14:22
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    Fair enough, but that's not how I was reading it. I'm just asking for some clarification.
    – Andy Mod
    Sep 17, 2015 at 14:24
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    I got your point. In this particular case it can be categorized as off-topic but moderation of such questions could be done in a way that make users want to improve their contribution rather than resign. Sep 17, 2015 at 14:37

I agree with belford's answer and would further assert that these questions are on-topic. It's just a matter of phrasing. In the given example, what if the question had been phrased:

I want to improve my sound fidelity. Here is my current equipment: .... Note that I have no pre-amp. Is there anything I can do in the amplification group to notably improve fidelity?

Isn't that clearly on-topic?

Anytime we're nitpicking over phrasing I think the policy should be to have some good sample questions and point the asker to those with an invitation to improve their question. I prefer to do this via comments, but it could also be done via close reason. However, the current close reason is not helpful for this!

  • 1
    Depending on how this all shakes out, phrasing will be important. Your reworded question changes the meaning of the question. "How can I improve/what do I need to have an improvement" vs. "What are the pros and cons". It seems that is the important distinction here.
    – Andy Mod
    Sep 17, 2015 at 17:07
  • @Andy - I agree that's strictly true. However don't you think it's likely that either question would elicit similar (and similarly useful, even to the OP) answers?
    – feetwet
    Sep 17, 2015 at 17:32
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    Both will provide information that is useful, but one will provide a description of what the product can/can't do. The other will make a recommendation while providing some information (hopefully). The question is, do we want your reworded question (and the associated recommendation) or is the original acceptable?
    – Andy Mod
    Sep 17, 2015 at 17:44
  • @Andy - Good clarification.
    – feetwet
    Sep 17, 2015 at 18:02

I think these questions are off-topic here.


It defeats the very motto of the site, which is recommendations. And this question is about the pros and cons of a particular hardware (be it about it's orientation or compatibility), and is not about recommendation.

A question which says:

What are some good audio amplifiers and/or preamplifiers?

is on-topic.

But, a question which asks:

Why should I integrate ____ as a separate hardware and what are the advantages of doing so?

is off-topic

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