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This is the question version of What is required for an answer to be 'high quality'?

(It is modeled off of What is required for a question to contain "enough information"? from Software Recommendations)

One of the problems that Hardware Recommendations has had during it's short beta period is vague and unresearched questions. These have been closed as either "Too Broad" (or a custom "Too Broad") or "Unclear what you are asking". The goal of this question is to provide a single location for future visitors to see what our standards are for questions to remain open on this site. This question is not for defining the scope, but for defining the content of the question.

What is required for a question on Hardware Recommendations to be high quality?

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A question on Hardware Recommendations has one of two goals:

  • A request for a product recommendation, OR
  • A request for information that will lead to a product decision

This means that Hardware Recommendations is not here to:

  • Provide technical support of hardware
  • Provide step-by-step instructions for Do-It-Yourself installation

There is one major exception to questions that request information:

  • General advice-type questions. These are out of scope because they don't necessarily lead to a concrete decision, and go out of date quickly.

Your question on Hardware Recommendations should:

Clearly define requirements

You are looking for a piece of hardware to do something. Define what the hardware must do and must not do. These requirements need to be objective (e.g., "must be less than $100" is good; "must be cheap" is bad).

Identify optional requirements. Not all hardware is created equal. If you would like the hardware to do something, but it isn't required, state that. These "nice-to-haves" will influence the types of recommendations that you receive.

Show previous research

Have you already performed a search for hardware that meets your requirements? What did you find or not find?

If you've already searched but you don't share the results of that search, it's probable you'll receive recommendations for hardware you've already rejected. This wastes your time and ours. By sharing your previous searches and reasons why the resulting products of those searches don't work, you allow us to provide more relevant recommendations to solve your problem.

Provide relevant details in the question

When you are providing information about your existing device, that information should be in the question. It should not be behind a link that shows specifications. Having this information in the question is important, because it allows the information to be easily accessible to others even if the link stops working.

Include a good title

The title should briefly summarize your goal in a few words and mention only one or two of the most important requirements (e.g., "25-inch monitor under $150")

See How do I write a good title? for tips on writing an effective title.

Make use of tags

Apply tags that categorize the type of hardware you are looking for (e.g., or ). Provide additional tags to narrow the scope of your request. Perhaps or is appropriate if the hardware needs to work with iOS or Windows. Also consider physical traits your question is focusing on such as or . Look at existing tags on similar questions and check the tag wiki to understand what a tag should be used for. Try not to use tags that have a large scope (such as ) without also adding some more specific tags - that helps people who are interested find your question to answer.

Not be too broad

Your question should ask for a very specific piece of hardware that matches your specific requirements. Questions that ask for more than one piece of hardware at a time tend to get closed because they're too broad for the community experts to answer in one go. Instead, try splitting your question out into one question per piece of hardware - this also enables you to tag them differently so the relevant experts can find them.

  • I think it might be good to explain why product recommendations in the form, "X or Y?" are basically XY questions and not good fits and should be rewritten, "given constraints X/Y what is a good tool to do X?" – enderland Sep 30 '15 at 17:05
  • Would it not be nice if you add certain real questions as examples here? Theory with concrete examples helps achieving better understanding. Of course, I can look at votes tab of questions but not every reader would know about that. – Firelord Nov 13 '15 at 23:32
  • I don't think it's a great idea to change the content: the votes don't mean anything then. – Franck Dernoncourt May 1 '16 at 22:54
  • @Adam, I don't think that newest bullet you added it agreed on yet. Your answer on the topic only has a handful of votes and we've been closing them as off topic for a while. There is a new answer on the question, but it's only an hour old. meta.hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com/q/464/57 I am going to roll back that change for now – Andy Jul 27 '16 at 21:28
  • To clarify the above comment...I am not opposed to adding the note that build requests are off topic, I just don't think the votes on the related question indicate a community agreement yet. We have been closing them as off topic and if we stick with that then the policy needs to be made more clear than "it depends" – Andy Jul 27 '16 at 21:51
  • @Andy Things are either on-topic or off-topic, and right now -- before a decision is officially made -- it has to be one of those. Based on how we've been developing the scope in the past, something starts out as off-topic and is moved to on-topic if needed. Basically, I don't think it's good to leave something in a gray area. It just creates unnecessary confusion. – Adam Jul 27 '16 at 22:02
  • That's fair, @Adam. Can you clarify that in the linked post a bit? The "Asking for a review of your build" section needs to make it more clear that it is off topic. – Andy Jul 27 '16 at 22:25
  • @Andy Yeah definitely. I'll get around to it soon. – Adam Jul 27 '16 at 22:38

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