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So, let's try to get an actual decision to happen here. I believe that the policy for equipment questions should be changed.

At the very least I would like to see the wording for reasons to close changed:

Questions seeking recommendations for equipment are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.

Music equipment does not become obsolete quickly. It gives the impression that this site isn't in tune with its subject. This is something that could be changed today, the reason could be whatever that is more correct. (I realize that it's the questions that become obsolete in the quoted statement, but I assume that is due to the obsolescence of the equipment...).

What I'd really like to see though, is that the policy is changed. Equipment is a big part of musicianship, and it quickly becomes a jungle. We should stress that questions about what brand to purchase are not allowed, but questions about what to look for when purchasing a type of equipment are good.

We do allow the latter types of questions already, but sometimes trigger happy people use the blanket reason above to shut down questions that are, or could be made general.

Update 20140925:

The decision is to use the wording in https://music.meta.stackexchange.com/a/912/8682. I would mark this as answered, but the new text isn't available when closing questions as off topic. Might still be in some moderator review queue.

Update 20141212:

The text is updated, but not exactly as the suggestion.

The current text:

Questions seeking recommendations for specific equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that.

The suggestion:

Questions seeking recommendations for specific brands of equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function, and setting in which the equipment will be used.

I think the "specific equipment" is problematic. It's different from "specific brands of equipment". Don't know if it's intentional. We should allow questions about specific equipment...

  • 1
    +1 Good question @MU. I reckon a simple rewording can sort this out, to keep questions about types and functions of equipment on topic, but make it clear that we're not here to give purely opinion based "reviews" of different brands (for instance). Let me have a think about what might work, and I'll post later... – Bob Broadley Sep 10 '14 at 12:52
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    +1 Very well put. Your and @BobBroadley comment sums up pretty well my opinion regarding this issue. This is one of many needed changes that have been proposed but not put in motion. – Lyd Sep 10 '14 at 15:34
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    Can you suggest a rewording? We can both narrow it to just the shopping problem, and broaden it so that it's not just about equipment. – Matthew Read Sep 10 '14 at 16:01
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    I'm still pretty new here, but the whole equipment rule never made much sense to me and I agree with most of what's been said here. I do understand the need to keep brands out of it (to limit reviews/opinions), but general advice one how to do certain things makes sense and can add some worthwhile Q/A topics. It seems that specific brands/models should be avoided, but general advice should have a place. – Charles Sep 10 '14 at 22:03
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    Also the whole "Shopping List" issue seems to come from SuperUser, where technology changes at a much faster pace. Typically in music, answers to a question like "how can I do X?" don't change overnight and are often worthwhile Q&A especially for beginners. – Charles Oct 11 '14 at 2:02
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Suggestion for re-wording.

Original:

Questions seeking recommendations for equipment are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.

First suggestion:

Questions seeking recommendations for specific brands of equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe your situation and the aspects of the equipment that is important for you.

Improved suggestion:

Questions seeking recommendations for specific brands of equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function, and setting in which the equipment will be used.

(Edit: In the name of action instead of talking, I've incorporated @Bob's suggestion in this vote. I think it is better, and it doesn't change the message radically.)

  • What's the status of this suggestion? Everyone seems to agree, what do we need now to get it implemented? – Lyd Sep 17 '14 at 22:46
  • @JCPedroza: From what I've understood, trusted members (>4000 points) can do these changes. Not sure if the need to be approved by several trustees, but since you are in the elite circle, maybe you can check how it works? – Meaningful Username Sep 21 '14 at 11:50
  • Where do I need to go and what do I need to do to make that change? – Lyd Sep 21 '14 at 12:01
  • No clue. Maybe @DrMayhem can come to the rescue? – Meaningful Username Sep 21 '14 at 12:03
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I approve. Suggested wording:

Questions seeking recommendations for specific brands of equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based, but we welcome questions about:

  • equipment specifications,
  • the suitability of equipment for specific purposes, and
  • recommended qualities and features of equipment for evaluating it for purchase or use.
  • We could enrich these with examples. Respectively, "Does the Hanoverian Overthrustr 2000 actually go to 11?", "Does the Hanoverian Overthrustr 2000 perform reliably in the rain?" and "When buying an amp, what features besides waterproofing should I be shopping for?" – Codeswitcher Sep 21 '14 at 2:59
  • Note that the welcomed questions are not strictly/literally recommendation questions; i.e. you can't answer them in the form I recommend that you use an X (where X is either a specific device, or a class of devices with certain features). – Dave Sep 23 '14 at 17:23
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There is a lot that goes into choosing equipment and I don't think I've ever seen two musicians ever have the exact same set up. Usually people want similar features in there equipment, but when it comes down to what people actually get differs.

Because of this I think giving a specific equipment recommendation would be opinion based, but we can give the person a good idea on what to look for.

We already allow questions that are not specific about equipment choices, but I think we can improve the definition we have by just going though questions that were already asked and figuring out if they are on topic equipment questions or off topic equipment questions.

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    We need to first define what type of equipment question we are talking about. The "what to look for" scenario, I don't think is about opinion but about things to consider, which can be objectively presented, explained, and defined. The variables are presented by experienced people that know them and are familiar with them to people that would otherwise have no clue of what to expect. What to look for in a keyboard? Weight and dynamic of keys, number of keys, key size, controllers (resolution, type, number), pedal options, etc. Both question and answer are objective. – Lyd Sep 10 '14 at 16:06
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    @JCPedroza I'm a keyboardist. Most of the features preferred listed differ widely by player. For example some keyboardist cannot function without a pedal while others don't like using it at all. The musician needs to get equipment that works for them. All I'm saying is equipment comes down to the individual and while we can talk about things to look for in the equipment, the player themselves needs to figure out what they would prefer. – Dom Sep 10 '14 at 16:15
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    But that's irrelevant to the question. The question is more "which are my options" than "which options are better". It is more "what variants to expect" than "what variant do you use". The question is not "should I use a pedal" or "what should I prefer". The question is not about preference, it can't be, its place is before preference becomes a thing. – Lyd Sep 10 '14 at 16:23
  • @JCPedroza How is that that different then what I said? "we can give the person a good idea on what to look for. " – Dom Sep 10 '14 at 16:25
  • It is very different. The complete quote is Because of this I think giving a specific answer would be opinion based, but we can give the person a good idea on what to look for. We can give specific answers without them being opinion based. The question is objective, and answers can be objective, and different musicians having different setups won't affect that. – Lyd Sep 10 '14 at 16:30
  • @JCPedroza I meant specific equipment. i.e. Recommending amp X or Keyboard Y – Dom Sep 10 '14 at 16:31
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    That's both off-topic and opinion based, but no one here is talking about that type of question or trying to make it on-topic. We are talking about "what to look for" questions, and protecting them from being closed as off-topic or opinion based. I noticed the potential misdirection in your answer, that's why I said in my first comment: We need to first define what type of equipment question we are talking about. The "what to look for" scenario... – Lyd Sep 10 '14 at 16:41

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