Example questions:

Technology moves so rapidly that the best shopping recommendations will be utterly obsolete within a year! What’s the point of a bunch of labor intensive questions that provide only temporary benefit to a limited (some might say Too Localized) audience? There isn’t any

Stack Overflow Blog - Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping!

What do you think about it... Should we disallow them? Are there reasons to allow them?

5 Answers 5


The low-hanging fruit of "get in my head and do my research for me" will make this site a whole bunch of no-fun really fast. That's not a site built by experts, for experts. Consider instead asking about about what issues to consider to solve a specific problem when making equipment buying decisions. At least the answers will be a product of expertise and not random opinion.

The problem with product recommendation is that they are typically asked somewhat indiscriminately. When someone asks "What do you think of Shure microphones?" or "What are the best studio headphones?", how can you possibly answer that objectively in a way that will help those who come after? An "expert answer" would be highly localized to a specific person and their specific situation.

But if you must: The question should be very specific, asking about a particular product… or at least be very, very detailed about the situation you are trying to solve. That way the question can be answered at least somewhat objectively… consistent with what you would expect from Stack Exchange sites.

  • The product recommendation part of your answer is confusing people (including myself) that came through closed questions that aren't about product recommedations at all. You might want to consider making your answer more generic and perhaps include a link to the How To Ask page... Dec 9, 2010 at 22:08
  • +1 on the no fun thing: we're going to get swamped with this kind of stuff if we're not careful.
    – Ed James
    Dec 17, 2010 at 13:41

I think the obsolescence cycle of audio recording hardware is a lot different than that of computers and electronics. There are many microphones, mixers, effects boxes, etc that have been around for many years and are still widely used today. I think these questions are much more useful in the audio production arena than in many of the other StackExchange sites.

  • I agree features mostly stay the same, but this doesn't account for the price and quality. Over time engineers find ways to increase the quality and lower the cost... Dec 8, 2010 at 1:21

I think these questions can be useful; perhaps quantifying what's needed to make them specific?

Should have at least one of:

  • Budget?
  • Specific application?

More relevant is the type of thing, stuff like:

  • Mics
  • Amps
  • Consoles
  • Outboard

are going to stand the test of time, but stuff like

  • Plugins
  • DAWs
  • Computer-related hardware

are going to be outdated quickly

  • 1
    +1 for suggesting that inclusion of specific application and budget must be included for the question to be acceptable.
    – Pelle
    Dec 12, 2010 at 18:14

My gut reaction is no, they're not good.

I can't disagree, however, that audio (and video? I can't speak to that) product cycles, etc. are different than say, computers. Asking about the best microphone can include products from the last 50 years!

What irks me about the shopping recommendations is not so much the localization in time for future visitors, but rather, that it inevitably ends up as a list of products, or options, or whatever... an infinitely amendable list. There will always be new input as to what the new tool is. It's like an ever-changing google search.

Those questions just don't lend themselves to an answer.

Rather than asking what the best mic for recording a solo cello is, one could do a bit of research, come away with a few questions about which of these two or three are best suited, and ask a question that can be answered. That's not saying, of course that there wouldn't be opinion involved, just that eventually, the relevant opinions would likely become exhausted on the subject... no infinitely amendable list.

It's a slippery slope to be sure. And this site, perhaps more than others, can probably actually manage more shopping recommendations.

After writing this... I'm still on no.


That's what we have Bing and Google for :-)

  • 1
    Disagree; any source you find directly on google can't be "checked". If you find an article in the Sound on Sound, you should be clean, but you want to know more than e.g. a blog's author's name. StackExchange sites (and I hope this is not going to be an exception) can be quite a reliable source for information, since incorrect info is downvoted, the author can be checked, there's reputation etc.
    – Pelle
    Dec 12, 2010 at 18:13
  • Google for a forum, compare site, magazine review?? Dec 12, 2010 at 21:46

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