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I just had an answer unilaterally deleted by ArtOfCode who, gave the following reason:

Answers generally need to recommend a product. Since this doesn't, I'm deleting it

This is so far beyond the level of not helpful, for the OP, the "answerer" and anyone else who comes after.

Not All Product Recommendation Enquiries Have Answers

For example: I have a budget of $60, and I need a Bluetooh enabled cellphone jammer that can work with both Mac and PC, runs on 2 AA batteries, and makes toast.

Well, there are two reasons why this inquiry will not have responses:

  1. Cellphone jammers are illegal
  2. That product doesn't exist (regardless of budget, I might add).

Because of those two reasons, the ONLY answer can be "there is no product."

The term "Generally" Conveys There are Exceptions to the Rule

Answers generally need to recommend a product.....

So, when there is something that "generally," is not the correct adverb, it is the exception. Per thesaurus.com then antonym of generally is:

enter image description here

So, there can rarely, sometimes, and unusually be instances where an answer doesn't recommend a product.

So, what are those occurrences and what are the qualifiers for them?


Having such a strict adherence to this concept that there is a 1:1 relationship between Question, Answer and Answer and Product is counter intuitive because reality is not structured in such a regimented fashion.

Sidenote....

People take time to ask and answer questions. This "quick to close" attitude drives people away. Less than a week into posting answer which take time to research for citations and ArtOfCode unilaterally decides that what I posted needs to be deleted. Of all the sites on SE that I am on, this is the only one with this unilateral structure.

enter image description here

versus, from SuperUser....

enter image description here

Do you notice is the Hardware Recommendations close reason, they give the following text:

This is a community-run website to help users complete an exhaustive solution search given very specific requirements.

Well, apparently, the community consists of just one person. Perhaps I am mistaken, but the evidence is contrary to what a "community" decision would look like.

Opinions, please.

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    If you're trying to get information or support about the community or processes used here, you'd do well to not point fingers and name names. If you just want to have a rant about me, at least be honest about it. – ArtOfCode Oct 15 '16 at 20:34
  • Did you or did you not unilaterally close a question? As for the processes - it is exactly that which I am questioning, not looking to get "support" on. If you are taking this personally, then you must be feeling guilty about something. – Digital Boffin Oct 15 '16 at 20:41
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    Yes, I did. Because that's what this community and the SE staff has entrusted me to do. I don't dispute that. What I'm saying is that if your aim is to secure healthy debate about the processes or policies of this site, finger-pointing has never helped that cause. – ArtOfCode Oct 15 '16 at 21:06
  • Since you admit that you unilaterally closed a question, I am pretty much unable to use the globally encompassing phrase "the community", aren't I? You made the decision, you took the action, and now you are personally offended when you are called out for it? So, since you don't want to take responsibility for your actions, to whom should I direct this to? The moderator?..oh wait.... – Digital Boffin Oct 15 '16 at 21:21
  • You're... misreading me, or misrepresenting me, or both - I can't tell. But anyway - I do take responsibility for my actions. The point is that my actions are backed up by policy that the community set here on meta. If you want to debate my actions, by all means, but what you're actually debating are the site and community policies. – ArtOfCode Oct 15 '16 at 21:24
  • "If you just want to have a rant about me, at least be honest about it." "finger-pointing has never helped that cause" -- Perhaps you are not aware, but you are the ONLY one making the decision...not the community. And more to the point, this decision is highly suspect as to YOUR interpretation of what the policies are. If your policies are so set in stone then why do you not communicate it that way? See my statement about "generally." – Digital Boffin Oct 15 '16 at 21:29
  • Rock and a hard place. If I communicate it as an absolute, the day will come when someone comes up to me and points out a valid exception. If I communicate it as a general rule, then... well, this happens. – ArtOfCode Oct 15 '16 at 21:30
  • So, you like to make absolute decisions but then hide behind vague policy? The only person who put you between the "rock and a hard place" is yourself. – Digital Boffin Oct 15 '16 at 21:32
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. – Digital Boffin Oct 15 '16 at 21:32
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Not All Product Recommendation Enquiries Have Answers

This much I agree with.

For example: I have a budget of $60, and I need a Bluetooh enabled cellphone jammer that can work with both Mac and PC, runs on 2 AA batteries, and makes toast.

Well, there are two reasons why this inquiry will not have responses:

  • Cellphone jammers are illegal
  • That product doesn't exist (regardless of budget, I might add).

Let's just clear up the misconception that being illegal makes a question unanswerable. There's nothing that states we can't answer a question because the product it asks for is illegal. Obviously, we don't encourage illegal activities, but it is possible to try to purchase an illegal device for non-illegal reasons like self-education. We don't know what the OP's purpose in wanting the device is, so we assume good faith and that they need it for a legitimate reason.

Likewise, we don't encourage answerers to do anything illegal or take any risks to identify a product that matches some potentially illegal requirements. However, if they know of a device, or can find one without breaking any laws, they're entitled to post an answer about that device.


Now, about answers and recommendations. These are the guidelines we laid down for what's required of answers on this site. Okay, that doesn't explicitly say anything about requiring a recommendation in an answer, but if you read through it, all the guidance contained there is about recommending something.

We don't do tech support, build reviews, compatibility queries, or general advice. We do recommendations of hardware. That doesn't just apply to questions, but to answers as well - answers that provide tech support, build reviews, compatibility advice, or general tech advice are also not something we do, and answers like those get deleted.

HR.SE is designed for someone to come along, ask us to recommend them a product, and get some recommendations. Not to get advice about why they can't/shouldn't buy something. If there are no products matching the spec, that's a bit of a special case - either the question can be left open, unanswered, or it can be answered in the vein of "there are no products to these specifications currently, but you could try X alternative instead".


Thirdly, your complaint about the "unilateral structure" of this site. It's like that because it has to be. We don't, currently, have enough users who use the powers they have to enforce our scope. (Read: people aren't close-voting things that we've defined off-topic.) That means that closures of questions that are off-topic falls, currently, to the moderators. The day when the community has sufficient clout to do it all without my intervention can't come quickly enough, in my opinion.

Likewise, we only have about two or three non-moderator users capable of casting delete votes. That's also not enough to keep the low-quality answers at bay; again, it falls to the moderators.

Here are some statistics. In the past 30 days, I have closed 85 posts. About 60% of those will have been technical support questions that I have yet to find someone who believes are on-topic here. That's 51 questions that you don't have to sift through to find anything answerable. About 30% of the rest (that's another 26) will have been because the requirements they set out were far too broad for anyone to form an effective solution set - again, those are not questions you can answer. The other 10% will have been for various custom, rare reasons.

I've also deleted 19 posts - that's mostly answers. Those answers are

  • link only
  • walls of text
  • spam
  • not answers

among many other things.

My point is that... well, I'm not entirely sure what my point is, but a moderator's job is to be a janitor. If you don't like how the janitor is cleaning up, you can fire him, but your buildings won't be clean any more.


And finally, to get onto this specific case. I deleted your answer because, as I said, it didn't provide any recommendation of a product. If you think there are no products available, that's okay, but as I mentioned above, general advice is still not an acceptable answer. You need to recommend something, whether that's a product that directly addresses the question, or an alternative that does as close to the same thing as possible.

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  • "Let's just clear up the misconception that being illegal makes a question unanswerable." That is utter nonsense. The answer is "this product cannot be obtained because it's illegal to own one. Your "policy" link doesn't address the points I made of there can be "no product." Finally, unilateral isn't "community moderated" now is it? – Digital Boffin Oct 15 '16 at 22:54
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    @DigitalBoffin The point of this site is to recommend a product to someone based on requirements. The "this doesn't exist so you can't get one" answer will never pass here because of this fact. It's the foundation of this site. But now you know, so let's all move on. – Adam Oct 15 '16 at 23:57
  • @DigitalBoffin Legality varies throughout the world - what's legal in my country may not be legal in Art's country (I can think of a few examples right now). Even if we wanted to consider what's legal, it would take immense resources to verify across localities. – Undo Oct 16 '16 at 4:55
  • @Adam - so your response to "a product doesn't exist" is to delete it so the next person looking for it has to go through the process of typing up a question only to have it deleted with no answer. Wonderful attitude. – Digital Boffin Oct 16 '16 at 10:37
  • @Undo - ignore illegal. I also posted it as a technical impossibility. People may want something but not understand why it's not possible (i.e. a USB wireless adapter greater than 4 watts). So the premise behind this site is to not tell them that a product doesn't exist and why but to either leave the question open in perpetuum or close it. Because...*this site exists to make a product recommendation* – Digital Boffin Oct 16 '16 at 10:43

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