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Recently, we've had a couple of ill-received questions that asked for shopping advice:

Warm jacket with several pockets for travel: suggestions?

Travelling to the Kruger National Park

Both of these were arguably more on-topic for travel.SE, and both (in their original forms) asked for shopping advice.

The first one asked for people to recommend a jacket with certain features. It was originally migrated here from travel.SE and then bumped back to them. It also received a message saying, "Questions seeking price-shopping assistance are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve," with a link to an SO blog.

The second one smelled a bit spammish. It asked for price-comparison shopping on plane tickets, and it linked to what appeared to be the OP's own blog. Asking for recommendations on what item to purchase is off topic here. After some edits, the question did receive an answer, which I upvoted and learning interesting things from. The OP never came back, which may be because they were spamming or because they were insulted by the heavy downvoting.

This came up previously in meta, but nothing seems to have happened. Almost none of the people involved in that discussion seem to be active here anymore, possibly because of the Monica Cellio affair.

Can we improve on this situation?

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People who are new at anything need to be educated or trained. Giving them something to read is merely a start, and a not very effective start if it is boring, as the user guides on SE are. (Has anyone ever read a non-boring user guide?)

So many old users are gone because of The Mess, and we need new users. That means being welcoming and training them courteously and patiently. Don't slam a new user with a downvote and a brief canned note, but edit their question and explain the reasons behind the edits.

Time consuming, yes. Too much work? Maybe. Worth it? It is the only thing that will work.

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Here is my best attempt at a self-answer, based on reading the previous meta material.

Let's take the close reason that currently reads, "Questions seeking price-shopping assistance are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve." and change it to the following:

Questions asking for what item to buy are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly, and similarly for questions asking for recommendations of cruises, plane flights, package tours, or guiding companies. Consider asking in Chat instead. If you're talking about buying gear, then questions of the form "What features should I look for in a..." or "How to choose a..." are on topic. Questions that are most on-topic for the site are those that involve significant physical outdoor activity, such as hiking, map-reading, backcountry cooking, horseback riding, camping, paddling, climbing, running, fishing, birding, hunting, wildlife photography, and safety. If your question revolves more around driving, flying, or hotel accommodations, then travel.SE may be a better place for it.

Our help section currently is not very closely aligned with the wording of our close reason. This could be edited to align it with the close reason.

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    Nobody will read a close reason that is as long as that.
    – Chenmunka
    May 2 at 18:16

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