The Community Team is nearing the private beta evaluations to decide whether to move this site forward, but I've hit a few snags expressing purpose and the scope of this site.
I am confident we are on the right track regarding what "hardware" will include. But in a discussion yesterday (where I defined "recommendations" as questions seeking specific hardware products), the issue came up of allowing "pre-purchase" questions too. That sounds reasonable enough, but comments about how we're here because Super User moderation sucks and SoftwareRecs does not work have clouded up the issues of why we created this site.
Let's see if we can clear things up.
Hardware Recommendations in a Nutshell
- Definitive Requirements → Explicit Product Recommendations
- Pre-Purchase Questions → Assurance You're Making an Informed Decision
The purpose of this site (as I see it) is to help folks in making purchase decisions, whether it is in finding the right product given a definitive set of requirements, or (updated) to ask what you should consider to help assure your purchase will work for you. Fair enough? (That's not a rhetorical question)
So what differentiates a <quote> "pre-purchase question" from a general hardware and computing question? This is not a general computing site and we need to stay focused on helping users make purchase decisions. That is why this site was created. So where do we draw that line?
Then it occurred to me…
It's all about the requirements
We already require that questions seeking hardware recommendations must include a specific set of requirements to help assure it can be answered definitively — and so it should be with any pre-purchase questions. If a question does not include a strong component of what is driving the purchasing decision specifically (i.e. what problem are you trying to solve? and why wouldn't any random product search suffice?), that question has probably crossed that line between "we can help you make an informed purchase decision" and general questions about computing and hardware.
Admittedly, we are talking about a really small sample set — the questions below may not be rock-solid — but hopefully these example will help illustrate the point:
Questions that "work":
I won't vouch for their quality specifically, but in the context staying within the intentions of this site, questions like these can be made to work. I closed these at one point, but when working through these issues, these questions do seem to fit the general purpose of this site.
Questions that should be closed:
- What are the differences between monitors inputs (HDMI, VGA, etc)?
- Aside from aesthetics, is there a benefit to PC water cooling?
- Why get a separate preamp?
Why indeed? Why do you ask? Yes, we can assume the author was asking to help them make a purchasing decision, but let's not get caught up in this XY problem where you're asking about the solution rather than your actual problem you are facing. This site was created to look at your requirements and come up with solutions that will help you specifically.
We don't need to hash out every exacting detail of the edge cases to define the purpose of creating this site, but are we willing to move forward with this basic premise?