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I'd like to ask for specific product recommendations for server-related services (such as registrars, virtual root hosts, etc). It's a jungle out there for many of these things, and specific experiences people have with various vendors could be very useful. But somehow asking straight up for vendor recommendations on serverfault seems a little inappropriate.

Is it inappropriate? Is there a better place for questions of that type? How can questions like that be asked to not be "chatty, open-ended" or "What's your favorite ____"?

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We don't really like shopping recommendations on Stack Exchange. Not because we're stuck up and mean, but because they really are very localised to a specific point in time, and personal opinion or bias isn't necessarily the best option for you in your situation.

A silly example
Say for example you asked for a recommendation and someone suggested you buy a server from Acme Server Corp (and you ultimately accepted that answer). Then say Acme Server Corp went bankrupt (Acme Corporation products are notorious for failing in spectacularly comical ways).

If I then happened to stumble across your question and answer some months later, the information is now out of date and largely irrelevant. All I know is that at one point in time, you bought a server from Acme Server Corp. That doesn't help me in buying the server I need now though.

Seriously though
What is considered the best product or service today isn't necessarily the best service in 6 months time. It seems very selfish to ask a question, get a good answer (that's potentially only valid for a relatively short period of time) and not allow others benefit from your question and somebody else's answer in 3 years time.

Windows will still crash with DRIVER_IRQL_LESS_OR_EQUAL in 5 years time - the server (or any other) market may be drastically different. Basically, a method of fixing a blue screen will still be relevant and the same in several years time; a product recommendation not so much.

Then you've got personal bias. Sticking with the servers example, I always buy (and recommend) HP hardware. Not because they're the best (define "the best" anyway...), but because they're what I'm familiar and comfortable with and I can say with confidence they are stable and reliable. Someone else will recommend Dell hardware for exactly the same reasons I'd recommend HP kit.

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    There's also the question of location. A system or service that be an excellent choice for someone in one location might be completely unusable, unobtainable or horrendously expensive, elsewhere. This is a big issue for global web sites such as SF. – John Gardeniers Mar 5 '11 at 1:19
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Rather than ask for vendor recommendations, you might try describing the problem you need solved, or the situation you are facing.

It's OK for recommendations to come up organically in the context of describing solutions, or learning about how to solve problems.

But point blank asking for recommendations isn't so useful, and is strongly discouraged throughout the network, as you correctly intuited.

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