The site itself is frustrating, but I do not agree this is a moderation issue.
The Moderators♦ are only doing the job we set out to do — upholding the story that created this site — but I've come to believe that the premise of this site is fundamentally flawed… or at least fatally obscure and misunderstood.
This site was created with a specific story in mind — a premise that there was a specific type of question that, if carefully worded and considered, should probably be allowed on a site hosting that subject… but they are largely rejected by their host communities (which I believe is overdone). So we gathered up all those questions and lumped them into a derivative site which isn't really based on a "subject of study", but rather a class of questions that aren't allowed on the site focused on the underlying subject.
I've talked about this issue in Should this site be called
"Hardware Search"?, but the community didn't find it to be the perfect solution to all of this site's ills… so the foundational problem remains.
But why can't we expand the story of Hardware Recs?
At it's core, a Stack Exchange-style Q&A isn't designed to handle every type of question. Our format with no point-counterpoint discussion; no on-going debates; the best answer prevails makes some questions fundamentally inappropriate for this format. Questions that need good-faith arguments and on-going discussion aren't intrinsically bad questions; we would just be doing them a terrible disservice to host them this strict Q&A format — so we are unabashed in foregoing those types of questions entirely.
But there are a lot of "is there a tool?" solution-search questions that are a perfect fit for our format — that's what got this site created — but a lot of the questions you want to see remain simply run afoul of how Stack Exchange works. Here are a few categories of questions I see a lot on Hardware Recs:
- polling the community for favorite brand preferences
e.g. "<vague problem, list of products> Which one should I buy?" There is rarely enough information to conclude that the top answer is fundamentally any better than a random product search. That's not good Q&A.
- soliciting categorically broad product reviews
e.g. "What do you think of this product?" The "best" answer depends almost entirely on who happens to be reading the question. That's a problem. It may help that one user in the sense of randomly sending them on their way, but it isn't terribly authoritative to anyone who comes after (again, one of the core premises of creating a Stack Exchange site).
- "Getting started" questions that are simply too early for a site like this
e.g. "Dear users, Based on no data, problem statement, nor prior efforts on my part, just tell me what to do."
So if I were to ask "Should I buy a Canon EOS 5D or a Nikon D3200?" I think most would agree it's a poor question polling for brand preferences, what people have, or statements embodying generalized product reviews ("I like x, y, and z"). But if you look at your example again (Upgrading 3-year old AMD Athlon II P320), honestly what's the difference there?
These questions are fundamentally not a good fit for our format.