I've looked at the original question from a while back. But that is too early to give a definitive answer. I want to know when it's OK to ask about hardware recommendations if it's OK at all.

For instance is this on topic?

Also what questions should be avoided.

2 Answers 2


None. Hardware or more accurately shopping recommendations are off topic in all SE sites. Through there are ways where you can in a roundabout manner ask for HW recommendations as seen in the blogpost Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!:

However, there is a way to ask these questions that avoids the inherent problems with shopping recommendations. For example, let’s say you wanted — as I did — to buy a point-and-shoot camera that takes good low light photos. So we’re going to ask on photo.stackexchange.com, naturally!

Here’s one way to ask:

Q: What’s the best low light point-and-shoot camera?

A: Canon S90 and Lumix LX3.

(note, this ask for the "best" so it can get closed as primally opinion based)

Here’s another way to ask:

Q: How do I tell which point-and-shoot cameras take good low light photos?

A: I strongly recommend looking for something with

  • a fast lens (2.0 at least)
  • reasonable ISO handling (at least 400, but preferably 800)
  • the biggest sensor available The sum of these factors are really critical for low light situations.

The former question provides the path of least resistance: a laundry list of products I can buy without thinking about it too much. But that answer will only be valid for a year at best. The latter question may take some thinking, but its answer will be valid forever … or at least until camera technology somehow shifts beyond lenses and sensors as we know them today. Thus, when it comes to shopping questions, don’t ask us what you should buy — ask us what you need to learn to tell what you should buy.

So, how can you ask for hardware recommendation? Ask instead what characteristics you should look for when shopping as seen in the last example.

  • 2
    We probably need to update the wiki tag of hardware-recommendation. Because it should say what's on/off topic. Or link to meta posts.
    – Alvar
    Commented Feb 12, 2014 at 22:05
  • 1
    There's a slightly conflict in what you're saying. This doesn't rule out all shopping.. If somebody asks what laptop they should buy, it can be answered by pointing out how to find out which laptops are supported. Similarly if somebody asks if a particular laptop will work, it can be answered pointing out how to work out. I think in both these cases they could be duped against canonical questions we already have, but you see what I mean?
    – Oli Mod
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 17:20
  • @Oli I expect that that question isn't about "Will insert here specific hardware will work the way I want to" kind of question, but offering pointer about what to look for when going shopping.
    – Braiam
    Commented Feb 13, 2014 at 18:05
  • Sidenote: we now have this: hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com Commented Nov 28, 2016 at 21:56

It's no longer true that "Hardware or more accurately shopping recommendations are off topic in all SE sites". For example I suggest reading this Meta post

  • That very same post mentions that "a shopping or buying recommendation" question is not included in on-topic list.
    – muru
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 4:03
  • Some sites may choose to allow this but here it is explicitly off topic. To quote the help "Questions that you should avoid: Shopping or Hardware Recommendations". If you think they should be on topic, start a new Meta post abouty it.
    – Mark Kirby
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 10:35
  • @muru Did you see this more recent answer to that post hiding at the bottom of the page
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 13:35
  • @MarkKirby There's no question that they are off topic here. My point is that they are on-topic here with specific requirements of course.
    – Elder Geek
    Commented Nov 26, 2016 at 13:37

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