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Over three and a half years ago (whoa!) we rejected adding a custom close reason for blatantly off topic questions. I'd like to revisit this decision.

In the past three years, we've picked up more traffic and gotten more questions that fall into a category where the question is about hardware, but it's not asking for hardware.

In the past 90 days, I see that there have been about 2/3 of the closed questions that have some variation of "This isn't related to hardware at all".

I'd like to add a new close reason that will encompass this type of question.

Not a request for hardware - Questions must be related to hardware and a recommendation for specific hardware.

That seems a little terse, and the way it's worded could overlap with both of our existing custom reasons - Technical Support and Too Broad. A great answer to this question, if you support the idea of this type of close reason, could propose better wording so that this new reason doesn't overlap as much.


Screen shot of custom close reasons in the last 90 days for users without access to the 10K tools (click to enlarge):

Custom Closes in last 90 days

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Being in the review queues I've noticed quite a few questions that seem to match your "about hardware, but it's not asking for hardware". Eg. How does a a bit adder work? Why does X interfere with WIFI?

For most of these I've left a comment mentioning that Hardware Recs is primarily for "purchase recommendations rather than technical details" (or support) and relegated them under the Technical Support Request Close Vote as it is the closet fit. I've also occasionally seen requests for software/code (eg. libraries) and relegated them under Technical Support as software relates to hardware somewhat.


Perhaps we could also consider adding a clause or vote closure reason regarding:

Technical details - Questions about technical details are off-topic for Hardware Recommendations because the site is here to provide pre-purchase hardware recommendations for hardware rather than solely technical details about hardware or it's interaction with other hardware.

Here, the technical details closure tag would deal with questions that ask for details about how the hardware functions and/or interacts with other hardware that wouldn't quite fall under troubleshooting or how to use/setup hardware which the Technical Support Request closure is designed to catch.

However, for questions that are completely and indefensibly off-topic from hardware, the catch-all like function of a "Not a recommendation request" closure is probably more concise for those type of questions.

The "Technical details" closure, in theory, could preserve the "Other (add a comment...)" closure for way off-topic questions, which I was under the impression was the function of that closure.

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Sounds good to me. We get a lot of questions that do just fundamentally misunderstand the purpose of this site - that we're not tech support, we're not programming help, we're not vendor sharks... etc etc.

It seems to me that part of the problem here is that some questions that should really be closed as technical support are getting custom close reasons used instead. Does no harm, in the end, but could do with the right reason being used, especially now we're on single-vote closures. However, that does still leave room for other off-topic questions that aren't technical support, but definitely aren't hardware recommendations.

I don't think your suggested wording is too far off. If there's a bit of overlap between reasons, that's not the end of the world, but perhaps something along these lines might work:

Not a recommendation request - Questions on this site must ask for a recommendation of specific hardware. If this is what you're trying to ask for, please edit your question to clarify; if not, another site may suit your needs better.

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