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For example, I'm looking into buying a band saw. I've never used one before so I don't know which features are important in a band saw. To make the best out of my money, I would like to know which features are important when comparing band saws. Are those type of questions acceptable or are they too opinionated?

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Questions on tool features and their functionality would be on topic, in my opinion. These can be objectively answered, since tool features were (hopefully) designed for accomplishing a specific task or making certain use cases easier.

However, questions on tool brand X vs brand Y would land on the side of shopping advice, and be off topic.

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Yes. "Gear talk" and trouble-shooting equipment is often a big part of just about any half-way decent site on these subjects. Let's not lose sight of that. Sometimes we have a tendency to wallow in these generic "Wikipedia-answerable" questions, and fail to remember sites like this when we have our own, personal varieties of real-world problems that need solving. Selecting, setting up, using and maintaining the tools of your craft really should be a big part of this site.

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    Agreed but I think we should avoid subjective answers, just like any other Stack Exchange website. If we can objectively describe qualities and features of a tool, then I think that the question can be answered appropriately. – Blue Ice Mar 17 '15 at 17:14
  • @BlueIce I agree, but I don't think there's anything wrong with saying (in an answer) something along the lines of I've used these 4 brands/models over the past 10 years, and the quality of X was just outstanding, whereas Y broke often, and customer service was unhelpful. – MattDMo Mar 17 '15 at 22:09
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    Before we get too wrapped up in what is "too subjective" before it's an actual problem, know that we've already embraced the value of hard-earned experience over random opinion a long time ago. See the pretty pictures and guidelines at the bottom of Good Subjective, Bad Subjective. I wrote that a long time ago, but it seems like good advice for this site in general. – Robert Cartaino Mar 17 '15 at 22:17
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An example of a good question is something like this:

I'm looking to buy a band saw, and want to know what features are important. I'm going to be using it to build a table and chair set for my dining room, using maple and oak.

Specifically, what does a higher power rating on the motor do for me with these woods? What size is appropriate for this kind of use?

An example of a bad question is more like this:

I'm looking to buy a band saw. What should I look for?"

The former question gives enough detail that it's possible to describe the different features. The latter is entirely open ended, and doesn't give any way to give good advice: a good answer would be closer to a blog post, and the asker clearly didn't do any research of his/her own before asking.

From my experience with other sites, particularly Parenting, where this isn't uncommon, it's important to either have some use-case specifics or to have a somewhat limited question [asking about a couple of specific features, for example] to get a useful answer that's not a blog post or an advertisement.

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    I think the key difference here in your example questions is application. "What should I look for in a bandsaw?" vs "What should I look for in a bandsaw if I plan on using it for ____?" The OP may not know they need a higher power rating for their specific application (ie, resawing). – Doresoom Mar 17 '15 at 18:01
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    I agree in most cases that's the way it becomes a good question. However, you will also find that people might read a few papers, or even just look at Amazon ads: those ads will mention a couple of "features", like "This bandsaw has over 15000 HP!"; a logical question is then, "is 15000 HP important for a bandsaw used for normal home woodworking, or is that more power than necessary". That question might be fine even without specific applications - because it's specific about the feature, not just "list some features". – Joe Mar 17 '15 at 18:11
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Standard reminder ... and yes, I know pointers are frowned upon here but it really is worth reading the original essay ... to the "how to ask questions the smart way" piece at http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

All our questions should meet those guidelines for "helping us help you."

All our _answers _ should try to be more patient, though!

(Thanks for pointing out that i'd miscopied the uri.)

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    Can you edit that link to get to the actual spot you are talking about? The link you gave reaches a UNIX directory of sorts, it would appear ... catb.org ... which directory and page are you talking about? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 17 '15 at 22:06
  • @Paulster2: fixed; thanks! – keshlam Mar 18 '15 at 1:48

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