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I did some searching of The Internets and found a widget that seems cool. However, I didn't find any other info. I decided to ask about it here. I'm somewhat active on several SE's (and have read a lot of meta), and my question seemed to fit a Q&A format, so I asked if it was a thing yet and if it was for sale or still in development.

And now it's closed as a shopping question. Shopping? Uh, what? OK, let's run down the op-topic topics:

If your question is about:

[Y] Raspberry Pi hardware, including GPIO and other related electronics.
[Y] Raspberry Pi peripherals.
[N] Software specific to the Raspberry Pi.
[N] Operating Systems built for the Raspberry Pi.
[N] Materials published or provided by the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

… then you’re in the right place to ask your question! But please note that the following is off topic

[N] Raspberry Pi orders or delivery.
[N] Asking for specific purchasing recommendations.
[N] Asking for references to online material (use a search engine, and if that does not work, ask about the issue directly).
[N] Raspberry Pi accessories relating exclusively to appearance (such as cases).
[N] Questions directly related to Linux/Unix issues. Please use the Unix & Linux Exchange.
[N] General programming questions, e.g., "How do I implement a keyboard interrupt in python?". These will be better off on Software

Engineering or Stack Overflow.

OK, so looking at the above, I have a few things indicating on-topic, and nothing off topic. Let's check meta for what a "shopping" question is defined as.

No results on this meta, but eventually I found a meta SE post Why are "shopping list" questions bad? which links to a blog post.

The meta post covers some concrete questions that identify shopping questions. My question asks none of these.

Price-shopping & Product recommendation questions

  • What is the best and cheapest Product of Type at this very moment?
  • What is the best Product of Type?
  • What are all the Products of Type?
  • "please make a subjective decision for me and explain it"
  • "please list all my possibilities with their strengths and weaknesses"

The blog post explains how shopping questions ask answerers to do a lot of work with very little info, and make a bunch of guesses on infinitely subjective criteria. Pretty straightforward explanation why they're not a good fit for the site. My question doesn't do any of that.

How is my question a "shopping" question?

I've made some preliminary edits; do those make it more or less of a "shopping" question?

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I might not have closed your question, but it does have characteristics and the associated issues of a shopping question. From the answer that's currently top-rated on the meta post that you linked (Why are "shopping list" questions bad?), I say it is open to at least 2 of these three "arguments against":

  • The are open-ended; there is never one perfect answer to them.
  • The outdate incredibly quickly. This was what turned me against shopping list questions: if you look around on Stack Overflow, you fill find plenty of 2010 "what's the best xyz" questions whose answers are hideously outdated now.
  • They tend to attract a lot of spam and/or link only answers.

(That's a "community wiki" answer, so no specific attribution of authorship.)

Your question is probably not open-ended, since, in some sense, it is a yes/no questions. It stands to be outdated quickly, however, and has the potential to attract link only answers if / when the product is available.

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I did close your question, and I am happy to explain why.

How is my question a "shopping" question?

Because it is:

Asking for specific purchasing recommendations.

You are asking specifically where you can purchase something. That's a "specific purchasing recommendation".

In terms of justifying why there is this rule and how it clearly applies to your question, let's consider a point made in the blog post, and re-iterated in the accepted answer to the MetaSE question:

technology moves so rapidly that the best shopping recommendations will be utterly obsolete within a year!

If that is true, then it certainly includes a question about where I can buy something.

Personally, that's not my biggest objection (and I'll admit, I used to have misgivings about the shopping restriction -- but I'll come back to that). Here are the two remaining bullet points from the Meta answer:

  • They are open-ended; there is never one perfect answer to them.

  • They tend to attract a lot of spam and/or link only answers.

I can't hand you an example of this, since we haven't allowed it to happen, but very obviously, if your question were allowed to stand, and (let's pretend) this product is one which in the near future is going to expand further into the marketplace1. At that point, more distributors are going to pick it up, and if (let's pretend some more), if those distributors knew that the Stack Exchange network was a great place for them to place free ads, your question would gradually attract more and more answers.

Yes sir! You can buy this fine widget at Foobar Electronics online for only $9.99!

And we could not object to this unless we want to start making tedious distinctions that would be easy to circumvent. Although, speaking of which, there technically is a way for a manufacturer or distributor to get a plug in, if: A) It involves a solution to a legitimate, non-shopping, how do I solve this problem question, B) It includes disclosure that the source of the answer is associated with manufacturers or distributor. We already have various examples of this WRT software here, whereby the author of a piece of software spends time answering questions recommending their own work, or, of course, questions directly about its use. That's all fine and good.

For me -- I said I would come back to why I no longer have any misgivings about the rule -- this is the clincher; the "obsolence" issue is a bit hypocritical since it can apply to technical questions about software (and this has come to be a big concern on SE, including here), and likewise the "open-ended" objection.

The reason I find it so objectionable is that it is totally unnecessary.

It coalesces with the more general stipulation that we aren't a search engine, and that posters are expected to make a research effort of their own first, such that the question is not one which could just have easily been answered with a search engine.

If you are shopping for a product -- and it would be ridiculous for you to claim that in your question it is not very clear that you are shopping, then you should be able to find simple information such as where to buy something and how much it cost with a search engine. I work on a computer all day. I regularly end up doing obscure searches that produce not lists of tens of thousands of hits but two or three hits, usually from a mailing list repository that probably have been read by only a few dozen people, ever. And that is stuff likely not even the authors could care whether it gets out there or not.

People who sell things, however, generally do not try and hide it (unless it is illegal, of course, but even then...), and in fact have a strong incentive to see that this piece of information can be found. If you are interested in a product and searching online leads you neither to a current manufacturer nor a current distributor, then accept that this product is no longer being made and sold. Even if you can find no distributor, if you find a manufacturer, almost certainly you can contact them and ask where you can get it.

By the way, I notice that Hackaday has a link at the bottom:

Does this project spark your interest?

Become a member to follow this project and never miss any updates

So, very likely, there is a means by which you could contact those responsible and ask them whatever you want. It looks to me like the authors are part of the project (and there are various other links there about them). Unfortunately, I don't see a date, and near the top:

Project Status: [...] Waiting on boards for first prototype

If that's the last news in a page by members of the project, then either it isn't for sale yet or it won't be for sale ever.


1. And, let's be realistic, if it does not, it will probably disappear into the dustbin of history, as many unsuccessful products do, meaning the question would exemplify the "rapid obsolence" objection.

  • Ah, I see your point of view now. My intent was to ask if they had completed development successfully, passed any brown-out phase where supply is negative, and had reached a point where they were actually available. I am indeed looking to buy one, but I wasn't asking "where can I buy one?". Amazon and Sparkfun just happened to be examples that indicate widespread availability. I guess it's moot, because anyone who would reply, would reply with "yes, it's available <here> for $x". – YetAnotherRandomUser Nov 10 '17 at 17:09
  • I think "Is it available yet?" is still the same kind of thing sans hairsplitting. And again, it is very obvious that is an official project page -- it's written in the first person by the person who had the idea and started the project. Do you really think s/he would have gotten into production and not bothered to update that page? However, I would not hold your breath; I finally found a date on the logs at the bottom, and it is over a year ago. There are several comments from other people later in 2016 that were never replied to. – goldilocks Nov 11 '17 at 12:33

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