I've recently suggested we close the following question:

I've given my reasons in the comments. They are (I believe) broadly in line with the policy on shopping questions on other SE sites. Indeed, I'm even not sure that it is a question that applies specifically to LEGO - I could ask the same question about other things (Action Man figures, Comics, etc.)

However...

Joubarc, for one, sees merit in the question, and I can see his point - there does seem to be value in providing a comprehensive list of places to obtain old LEGO. Moreover, we already have numerous questions tagged shopping, and to be honest, most (if not all) of these seem to fit well within the scope of this site.

The other thing that bothers me is that questions that promote list-style answers and "requests for resources" have also frowned upon elsewhere on SE... but I'm not sure that the "rules" have always been applied in a sensible way, nor that they should apply to this site in particular. There are already several questions whose answers are lists, and questions whose answers provide external resources. To me, the seem perfectly fine - indeed, I may even have contributed to some of them. In my opinion, then, they provide value to the site, and I'd be sad to see them go.

So, my question: as a site, what is our policy on shopping questions? Assuming we allow them, how can we differentiate the good from the inappropriate?

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3 Answers 3

I must admit I forgot about the policy on shopping on other sites - whihc is a very valid point, and seen as such, it should apply here as well.

However, I still believe shopping questions are actually a classic interrogation point for a lot of fans, and this goes back to rec.toys.lego. As such, I believe such questions have a room here, although we should make sure there aren't too many of them, and that they are as broad as possible. The one referred in the original post is, in my opinion, a very good example: "where to find old sets" is as broad as it gets, and fans still need to know that.

I'd suggest to CW these question/answers though.

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A valid set of good points all round.

My thoughts are:

  1. Shopping questions need to be applicable - this has been covered in a number of places, most notably in Q&A is Hard, Let's Go Shopping! - there are ways that these questions can be asked and answered helpfully.
  2. These questions should be CW - most of our other list questions are, and are better for it.
  3. I think there is some value in a (one) general "Where to buy Old Sets" question, but we should probably close as a duplicate the "Where can I buy older sets such as the VW Beetle" as it's a little too specific (remember we don't have to close the most recent, only the least useful), and any others that crop up.
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The classic post about shopping questions focuses on such questions being temporary by nature. It's a lot harder for such questions to stand the test of time. If a LEGO set is currently on sale at one retailer, that's the best place to buy it today, but not tomorrow. Temporary questions are just not the best use of a Stack Exchange site.

Shopping questions can also be a problem because of Parkinson's law of triviality AKA bikeshedding. The idea is that if you are designing a nuclear power plant, it's unlikely that there will be many people who will know enough about the problem to offer solutions. But if you want to design a bike shed (for the operators of the plant to park their bikes during the day), you'll get as many suggestions as there are people you ask. Of this sort are purchase questions with fairly boad criteria (Lego set for 17 year old, LEGO for a 1 year old, How to start with technic?, etc.).

So one criteria to evaluate this and other shopping questions is: Do you need to know something about LEGO to answer? If there's something unique about a purchase that only a LEGO enthusiast could know, then go for it. Collectors go about shopping far more deliberately than the average shopper.

Now reading the questions I see the same answers recurring:

  • BrinkLink
  • Ebay
  • Pick-A-Brick
  • LUGBULK

So it would probably be best to create (or designate) a few questions to be canonical. For instance, you could probably merge questions about buying in bulk or buying discontinued sets into a pair of questions addressing these issues.

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