I would like to know why https://serverfault.com/questions/361682/secure-sysadmin-friendly-registrar was closed as offtopic.

Reasons I see for not closing it are:

  • One linked, similar, question was here on serverfault. Another was on web applications.
  • If that question does not belong here, then where does it belong?
    Stack exchange now has loads of different sites that up to a few months ago did not exist, and topics partly overlap in questions like these.
    Are users meant to just guess where to post it? powerusers? webmasters? web applications since DNS hosting companies have "web applications" to manage DNS?
  • Why close rather than move it?

3 Answers 3


When users flag for 'shopping' closures, the comment text I typically drop in there reads:

Product and service recommendations, including product recon, is off topic per the FAQ.

Sometimes I'll replace 'alternatives recon' with 'product recon', since questions like, "What's a free alternative to Active Directory" are also considered too-shopping.

The long and short of it is, any question that's looking for a list of products or services, no matter how tightly constrained, is at risk for closure due to 'too shopping'.

  • 3
    Unfortunately our non-moderator high-rep users who close things don't always leave a message why Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 0:06
  • 2
    That's a good reminder, @MarkHenderson. I'll make a concerted effort to leave explanatory note along with close votes.
    – EEAA
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 2:28
  • For what it's worth, I almost never used to leave comments until I became a mod either Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 2:29
  • If I may share my point of view - I got my question downvoted and closed without any reason given, I suspect because it was assumed I didn't read FAQs. I did read them, back when I joined nearly 2 years ago when this rule didn't exist, so making a specific close reason that isn't a generic "off-topic" would, IMHO, help to clear the confusion that is created in cases like this, otherwise users like me will just see other open similar questions and assume that asking them is fine. A message like Mark suggested would be ok as well, if a specific close reason cannot be added.
    – Razor
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 8:51
  • 1
    @Razor Unfortunately the close reasons are network-wide (I agree that the list of close reasons does not cover all the common scenarios, but I don't think the Stack Exchange team is going to expand that list substantially in the foreseeable future -- If you would like to prod the team open a mSO question for it and drop the link here, you'll probably get a few upvotes). We do try to encourage people commenting when they downvote or vote to close, but we cannot make this mandatory (it just encourages useless comments like "DFGHDGUIWRHEJGFHJ": We can't enforce coherent comments :-/)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 16:50

My guess it was closed because it is a shopping question and shopping questions are off topic now.

  • 1
    And, as you can see in the Vote To Close chat room (I see you're looking at that right now), the older question is also up for closing. That type of shopping/survey question was accepted in the early days, but now they're routinely closed. Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 22:30
  • I'd argue that the examples in that "shopping question" post are way different from that question (not asking "for the best registrar", but for a registrar with specific features), and the conclusion "the best recommendations will be obsolete within a year" does not apply in this case as the similar linked question looks quite popular/useful after more than 2 years.
    – Razor
    Commented Feb 19, 2012 at 22:31
  • 1
    @Razor: It doesn't matter if this example is still useful after 2 years, because it could have been useless by now. We don't know beforehand so we just don't do shopping questions at all, no exceptions.
    – Sven
    Commented Feb 20, 2012 at 1:49
  • Isn't part of the whole point of Stack Exchange that you can vote up newer and better answers and vote down older answers that aren't as good anymore? I guess the objection to that is it takes too much time to overcome all the voting momentum behind the older answers? But if something is obsolete sooner, then that momentum plays less of a role, right? And anyway, if the problem is obsolesence, what in the world do we do with all those obsolete answers to non-shopping list questions that have way too much voting momentum behind them?
    – Shavais
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 21:21
  • Categorizing questions might add some value, but dissallowing whole categories of questions subtracts a whole lot of value.
    – Shavais
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 21:24
  • It seems most likely to me that if I'm in the minority view, I'm in the minority of the vocal minority, and the silent majority out there, full of people who don't have time for this kind of discussion or this kind of voting is probably far and away in agreement with me. We use Stack Exchange to Communicate. It is The Best way we have to do that. Disallowing questions doesn't help us do that, it prevents us from doing that. The value of Stack Exchange is how well it facilitates that communication. Dissallowing whole categories of questions dramatically reduces that value.
    – Shavais
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 21:29
  • What value does closing a question add to the set of answers a person can find on a Stack Exchange site? Isn't the goal to help facilitate valueable communication? How does shutting people up contribute toward that goal? "This isn't the right place for that question." Fine, so vote to move it to the right place and vote to create a better place if there isn't one. But don't shut people up, that's wrong on way too many levels for way too many reasons.
    – Shavais
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 21:52

It should not be closed, and shopping list questions should be allowed.

The value represented by shopping list answers is not shorter lived than answers to technical questions about curently existing products.

Shopping list questions do not inspire more argument than answers to technical questions. Answers to technical questions inspire plenty of argument, and all that arguing has tremendous value - it brings important points to light.

A set of answers to a shopping list question does not educate people less than a set of answers to a technical question about an existing product. The question "What's out there, that could help me deal with this technical need I have, that I would do well to be aware of?" is just as valid and valuable as asking "what am I doing wrong in this bit of config text?" if not more valid and valuable!

Asking shopping list questions is not by nature lazier than asking a technical question. You're just as likely to have failed to do enough homework when you ask "what's wrong with this bit of config xml" as you are likely to have failed to do enough homework when you ask a shopping list question. And there's nothing wrong with being lazy anyway! If I can spend a few seconds and point someone in a helpful direction with a comment or an answer to shopping list question that saves them several minutes of sifting through a bunch of much less focused and relevant information for them, I'm more than happy to do that!

The idea that questions that are to be considered "on topic" should have a single correct answer is ridiculous. The set of technical questions that have a single, correct answer is tiny (compared with the set that don't) and relatively trivial; almost any technical question that isn't trivial will have a number of opinions around it. One of the huge benefits of Stack Exchange sites is that answers that people in the community find more valueable get voted up more. A set of shopping list answers with votes from the community for each one has tremendous value, as does the information brought to light by all the "arguments" around them. And it's a thing that is not necessarily always all that easy to find anywhere else.

Stack Exchange sites are a way for the community of techies to communicate with each other. You can ask practically any question of a generally technical nature and have a conversation with someone who knows something about what you're asking about, in the comments, in a matter of minutes. There is no other place on the Internet where that can be accomplished anywhere near as well.

Closing and removing questions or answers doesn't add any value, it just stifles and hinders incredibly valuable and important lines of communication. Ok, there's value in organizing things - so move stuff around. If this answer isn't in the right place, then move it to the right place. If doing that isn't easily accomplished by the tools that the site gives moderators, well, there's a new feature suggestion for the Stack Exchange developers. Yeah, it probably isn't in the right place either, but I'm out of time for this activity, now.

We The People who Use Stack Exchange barely have time to communicate at all, let alone find the right place and the right way to do it. If you have more self-directed time than the vast majority of us do then congratulations and bless your heart for using it here. Please don't penalize all the rest of us for not being in that position.

  • 1
  • Yeah, I read that before I made this post. This post responds to every argument made in that blog. I guess I probably represent the minority view, as usual.
    – Shavais
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 20:47
  • It sees so, anyway you got it off yer chest ... carry on.
    – user9517
    Commented Oct 5, 2015 at 21:08
  • You have zero actions on ServerFault (no questions, answers, comments, flags, votes or anything). What makes you think you are qualified to judge how this site should operate?
    – Sven
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 0:51
  • I've been in the I.T. industry for decades, and I've been around server fault for as long as it has been around. If it says I have zero actions, it's wrong. I noticed that it relinked my account for some reason. I have various gmails, maybe that's the source of it. Anyway, I rather suspect there are a whole lot more people who use it to find answers than have time to do very much writing and voting.
    – Shavais
    Commented Oct 6, 2015 at 19:10

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