StackOverflow has a policy of not making product/service recommendations.

Although this is not in the default StackExchange site FAQ, should we also adopt it?

This partly overlaps with Should questions about peripherals or accessories be allowed??

  • 1
    Related reading: Discussing the general distaste of these posts — blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping Jun 15 '12 at 17:39
  • Regarding the linked post: It was only first posted in April, and was fairly controversial at the time, both for its tone and for some of its content. In some areas the actual practice in SO may differ from the statements there. Jun 24 '12 at 22:12

I'm going to play devil's advocate here, and disagree with the norm.

I think that we should allow product recommendations, but only for peripherals (devices that are designed to extend the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi, such as a case/extension board).

We should not allow supplier recommendations (unless there's only one supplier).

My reasoning:

  • Since the scope of this SE is just one device, the number of peripherals will be limited. This means that answers will stay relevant much longer than other SE sites.

    It will be beneficial to provide answers to questions like "Are there any suitable waterproof cases currently available for the Raspberry Pi?". This is more useful than "How do I tell if a case is compatible and waterproof?".

  • Unlike laptops/cameras, the Raspberry Pi is a unique device with a small following. Some peripherals will be made by obscure tech companies and enthusiasts, which means searching "Raspberry Pi case" will not result in a good listing of compatible cases.

  • The Raspberry Pi is designed for education, and the people who use this site are likely to range in age, experience and knowledge.

    Users may not have the ability to find/research compatible devices - we should help them, and provide product recommendations for their particular problem.


Q: What's the best X for Y?
Q: What devices can I use to achieve X task?
Q: How can I do X? What hardware do I need?


Q: Where can I buy a X?
Q: My X broke, should I return it?
Q: What's the best USB X? (USB devices aren't exclusive to Raspi)
Q: What's the cheapest X? I live in Y. (Too localised)
Q: What's your favourite X? (subjective)

  • 2
    Hmmm ... What is the best USB wireless for Pi should still be allowed IMHO - it's not issue of the device - but of arm drivers. Jun 25 '12 at 11:58
  • @MariaZverina: I agree, but perhaps the best phrasing is "Does X have an ARM driver?" or "Does X work on RasPi?" Else you do leave yourself open to subjective issues like brand preference or stylistic preferences.
    – zenbike
    Jul 4 '12 at 10:07

I think we should disallow recommendation questions, since information given in them will become outdated far too quickly, since this is still a growing "field".

Let's say a asks "What's the best X for Y?" The chosen answer is "A", in July. However, by August it has become clear that the forked project "B" is better written, and "A" has been abandoned even by its maintainers.

In an ideal world, the question-writer would come back, write a new answer, and mark it as the selected one. That's unlikely to happen.

Perhaps if we could force all such questions into community wikis, it might make more sense.

Or even put these answers into an FAQ, where the people who care (high-rep users) will actually bother to maintain it.

My point is that the side strives for a single "best" answer, and some other "pretty good" ones. However, information and scoring becomes stale very quickly in subjective questions. So I'd rather keep the questions as objective as possible.

  • To me, it's good enough if the answer solves the user's problem, even if it will be outdated next month. That anyone is given an opportunity to edit posts makes your concern go away. And also, I disagree with forcing such questions into community wikis.
    – tshepang
    Jun 20 '12 at 22:07
  • If you disallow recommendation questions, doesn't that disallow things like: Does X bluetooth adaptor work on RasPi? Is that the intent? If so, from my point of view, you will make it much harder for folks like myself to decide whether a problem is configuration based or a hardware problem. If I know that others have had success with a problem, then I can assume I am doing something wrong, rather than having purchased something incompatible. Given the educational intent of RasPi, that seems necessary (to me).
    – zenbike
    Jul 4 '12 at 9:55

While SO has that policy stated in that meta Post, in practice there are often recommendations found in questions - these are often of the form "Does anyone know a utility that can..." etc. These are really valuable, and I've often found useful stuff through these answers myself.

What is definitely required is that, where the Answerer is affiliated with what they are recommending in some way, that must be disclosed in the same answer (not just in the person's profile).


The biggest issue I have with these types of questions is that they are extremely subjective and, thus, should inherently be closed.

I'm fine with having a few of them (especially in these early days) to seed the community, but, in the long run, I don't see any value in these questions.

And, yes, I fully understand that there are exceptions and I'm perfectly fine to make those exceptions, but it would have to be a pretty good question...

  • Whenever I feel tempted to post a “best” question, I ask myself to define “best”. Usually, I come up with a list of features, a budget, some desire for project longevity, stability and support, etc, etc, and pretty soon I find that I have a detailed question which is not objective Jun 12 '17 at 8:52

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