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I was looking at this question, "Are there any keyboards that can let you do pitch-bend by directly manipulating the key," which has attracted several close votes as a "recommendation request." I chose not to vote it as such, though; to me it's an organological question. It happens to be geared toward modern, commercially-sold products, but the OP never once implied that they were seeking to purchase, just looking for knowledge. It seems to me little different in spirit to, say, "Is there a bowed string instrument with strings in paired courses." Meanwhile, the prototypical bad "recommendation request" question is "Which practice amp should I buy." There are some objections that "bowed strings with paired courses" has in common with that one, and some that it doesn't; clarifying which objections are central to our ban could help inform close votes.

This seems to be one of the most relevant meta pages on "recommendations." It mentions that "Questions like this tend to turn into specific equipment/product recommendations, yield link/product only answers that may not be valid long after the post, attract spam and people advertising their own product, and tend to focus more on products." Paraphrasing those points or adding to them, some possible reasons for this objection could be:

  • Prone to answers that are not substantial, or are even "list answers." To the question "are there instruments with sympathetic strings," the answer could be "Sure; sitar, sarod, viola d'amore, hardanger fiddle...". This could be a problem with even organological questions, the "does [this instrument] exist" questions, although I have created a straw-man question that's excessively broad and poorly researched. My earlier one, "do any bowed instruments have paired courses," could have much more substantial answers, unless the answer is actually "nope, sorry." (Man, now I'm curious... At any rate, such questions can be made to demand more substantial answers by also asking "and where/when/how was it created/used/etc."
  • Attract opinion-based answers. "What is the best practice amp" can have multiple equally-valid opinion-based answers. This is not a problem with "does X exist" questions.
  • Concern about commercialism. "What's the best amp" questions might attract actual spam, or raise concerns about undue favoritism on our part. These would not be concerns for organological questions that deal with "types" of instruments ("The answer is a clavichord"), though they could if the answer is a commercial brand or model ("The answer is the Seaboard Rise 2").
  • Focus on means over ends—talking about musical tools when we should talk about problems to solve. The "is there an app that teaches me ear training" question restricts the conversation to apps, when perhaps the best solution is a different type of resource or even holistic approach. This is irrelevant to "tell me about X instrument" questions, unless they conflate practical concerns into them ("Is there an instrument designed to imitate bird calls? Because I want bird-call sound effects in my piece.").

So which of these concerns underlie the opposition to "recommendation" questions, and how strongly does each contribute to that ban? The answer would help inform CVing, among cases edge-ier than "what's the best amp."

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  • FWIW, I voted to leave open the bendy-sound keyboard question, because it's not a request for a specific piece of equipment and the "problem to be solved" is obvious enough. I did consider CVing as a "list question". However, it's not likely to generate a large number of list-y answers, which is my main criterion.
    – Aaron
    Apr 13 at 15:48
  • @Aaron Lol, though even as we speak it seems to be gaining some more. We have one that is "Sure, this one!", mine that is essentially the same thing but wordier, and one that amounts to "Sure, look over there and there." Apr 13 at 15:49
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    While I do want wait for community consensus on some of this, I do feel like I should point out that there has been an edit that while putting it more clearly on topic, invalidates at least the accepted answer which is just a product recommendation. Whatever the outcome is for this question, we need to be aware of how edits affect both the question and already given answers.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 13 at 16:12
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    I'm not sure I understand your question here - you seem to ask why the close reason has the various sub-reasons, then describe those sub-reasons. They are all valid.
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Apr 13 at 16:15
  • @DoktorMayhem I guess I was wondering about the "weighting" of these sub-reasons. (Btw, is there a central place that such things are documented? I'm not aware.) "What's the best amp" offends all these sub-reasons; "are there bowed strings with paired courses" offends none if you do it right, or one if you don't; the pitch-bend question offends maybe 1-3, depending how you look at it. If some of the sub-reasons are "more important" than others it could sway a CV. Apr 13 at 19:51
  • (Related: the pitch-bend question has by now been closed, with the listy-ness of it changing @Aaron's mind. Do we need a separate close-reason for listyness?) Apr 13 at 19:52

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I think Dom's answer to the question you mention explains the current advice well. For Keyboard where each key has pitch bend?, we would want the user to ask something like "how can I achieve independent pitch-bend control for each note on the keyboard?"

I can see the benefit of wanting people to ask questions that way, with the fewest assumptions possible. My concern with this approach is that it's probably at odds with the way many users are going to naturally ask quesions. In this case, it's very natural for someone to assume that this would be a facility on some types of keyboard, or perhaps a small number of particular products; Looking for a "Keyboard where each key has pitch bend?" is a natural way for a musician to ask "how can I achieve independent pitch-bend control for each note on the keyboard?".

Perhaps our choice is between these options:

  • Support the advice in My Question was closed a software/equipment recommendation. What does that mean and what can I do?, and be active and kind hearted in helping users change their questions such that they follow the suggested pattern

  • Support that advice, but without bothering to provide the level of active help that some users will need to follow its advice. This will inevitably lead to a poor site experience for some users, and some messy question closures

  • Come up with different advice

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    For your second paragraph: "Who's your favorite guitarist?" Is also a perfectly natural question to ask, but that doesn't mean it makes sense on the site and that's the crux of the problem. Product recommendations are off-topic and how this question is asked asks for them and the accepted answer demonstrates all the OP wants is a product. I really don't understand that argument when what's being asked for is explicitly off-topic. One way asks for products which is off-topic, the other asks for a methodology which can be applied to any product.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 14 at 13:55
  • @Dom do you think that "how can I achieve independent pitch-bend control for each note on the keyboard?" is a reasonable question on this site? Apr 14 at 14:48
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    Yes. "Keyboard where each key has pitch bend? is not because it's just a product recommendation.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 14 at 14:57
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    @Dom Though it would presumably get all the same answers—"Use a clavichord, ondes martinot, or Seabord Rise 2." The listiness is still present. Anyway, it seems counterintuitive that a question of "Does X exist, I'm not looking to make use of it or anything, just curious" should be legitimate, while looking for a practical application invalidates it. And I would want to let questions like "Did the ancient Greek aulos exist in a free-reed version" be on topic, and there's not much distinction... Apr 14 at 16:48
  • @AndyBonner "how can I achieve independent pitch-bend control for each note on the keyboard?" does not lead to a list of products and if it does I think we're looking at answers on the site much differently. As for lists, a finite object list is typically fine, the problem comes when you can keep adding to it or there's no way it can be objective. In this case, any new keyboard that does that means the list needs to be updated and leaves room for: "hey check out my app that does this" which is one of the main reasons we don't do product recommendation.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 14 at 16:54
  • @Dom edited to clarify. Apr 14 at 21:04
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    My original comment is still valid. One asks for a product the other does not. Product recommendation is off-topic, asking about a practice/performance technique is not. Saying it's the natural way to ask a question doesn't make it on topic when what those two question will produce answer wise is very different hence the first comment.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 14 at 21:08
  • @Dom Could you go into some details of how you think the answers to the two questions would differ? How would you answer "how can I achieve independent pitch-bend control for each note on the keyboard?" Apr 15 at 5:42
  • Again one asks for a product one asks for a technique. If you just answer that one with a product like some current answers do it wouldn't directly answer the question. I'd start with talking about the technology and signals then the idea on how they would be modified. I'd also expect an example or two, but that's very different than "Go buy X". How a question is asked matters and I really feel like you are missing that hence the first comment. You seem to want us to accept any question asked as is even if as asked it is off-topic.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 15 at 12:45
  • @Dom it sounds to me like your suggested way of answering "how can I achieve independent pitch-bend control for each note on the keyboard?" would be of help to people who come along asking about "Keyboard where each key has pitch bend?" - hence why I am wondering (first bullet) if we can be more proactive, kinder, and more helpful in helping OPs rewrite their questions in the more abstract/broader way. Apr 19 at 8:06
  • It won't help both if the OP is dead set on a product. I'm for editing the question to make it more on topic, but 1. you need to make sure the OP is ok with a more drastic change 2. Tha you aren't invaliding answers. At a certain point it's better to leave a question closed and ask a new question. I keep pointing to the accepted answer which doesn't make sense in the reworked question. Editing the question and not considering the answers harms the site.This is also why closing an off-topic question before it gets answers helps the op more than leaving it open to get off-topic answers.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 19 at 12:33
  • I feel like you also associate core site features with being "unkind, not proactive, and unhelpful". Site actions should not be used this way whether it's voting, opening/Closing questions, or deleting answers that don't fit the site. They are helpful when used properly and while they can be abused, the features themselves aren't the culprits. The op already has an answer to their off-topic question. They don't seem to care to make it on topic and they already got what they wanted. It was closed to prevent more off-topic answers and they are free to edit it to be on topic or ask a new Q.
    – Dom Mod
    Apr 19 at 12:46
  • "It won't help both if the OP is dead set on a product." - Why do you think that's what's happening here? As far as I can see, comments from the OP indicate interest in the underlying technologies and techniques. Apr 19 at 23:19
  • "That you aren't invaliding answers" - certainly a consideration, and I agree that questions that need to be closed for clarification should be closed quickly - but alongside the closure we should be giving clear advice on how to improve the question. Apr 19 at 23:20
  • "The op already has an answer to their off-topic question. They don't seem to care to make it on topic" - they weren't really given good help or guidance to that end. The result is that the site could have had a question that was a good contribution to the value of the site as a knowledge base as well as helping the OP, but that opportunity was missed. Apr 19 at 23:20

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