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Are sports equipment recommendations on topic or off topic? Additionally, if they're on topic how should they be tagged?

It seems like it would be difficult to provide a single answer.

Examples:

  • Also sports.stackexchange.com/q/37/38 – Tonny Madsen Feb 9 '12 at 12:17
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    Admittedly one of these is my questions, but I believe determining how to get "correct" equipment would be on topic. If someone was asking for the "best" equipment it would be a shopping question and off topic (and probably way too subjective anyways). – The Jug Feb 9 '12 at 16:53
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In your examples, I am not convinced they are off topic.

In the first, about running shoes, he asks one objective question (what are the main types of running shoes) and one subjective question (which should I select). The first part is fine, the second part needs some work. It could be easily reworked into "how does one determine the proper type of shoe" and it would be an objective answer. He's not asking for someone to give him a link to a shoe, he's asking how does he know, given a type of foot, what the appropriate shoe is.

The second (goalie sticks) is a perfectly valid question. The OP is asking for an empirical set of steps he can use to calculate the length of stick required. Again, not asking for a specific stick, but a formula to determine a stick. This is the type of thing an expert would do, and is the kind of question we want.

The last (flat footed ice skates) is a bit iffy. It is poorly worded, but again, it isn't asking for someone to give them a product - it's asking someone for advice on how to select a product. We're talking about the process, not about the item. Processes are much easier to illustrate with facts, references, and objectivity. Simple product recommendations are not.

Simply put, just because something involves the purchase or selection of an item as the end result does not necessarily mean the question is off topic. It's all about what the question being asked is. If the question is "what item should I buy" then that's a poor question and should be closed. If the question is "how would I determine a product given X Y and Z factors" it's a good question and should be answered in an expert manner.

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I believe they should be considered on topic, and my motivation for this is that specialized equipment is a large portion of doing sports. Finding the right equipment for the right purpose is a common problem for many that actively do sports, or enthusiasts starting with a new discipline.

While I do not envision a SE site with only shopping questions, I also do not want to participate in a Q/A community about sports that ONLY cite rulebook texts, as I do not see any point with it. As long as it can be put in reasonable terms, and discussions based on personal preferences can be avoided I believe there questions asking for equipment advice should be welcome here.

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I think they should be off topic. They are ultimately shopping question. Sporting equipment in most sports changes at the very least yearly (new better stuff comes out). The questions would age quickly (much like computer hardware). See the blog post on shopping questions.

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