Brand neutral-questions are always preferred. However, sometimes it is necessary and useful to discuss specifics including brand items.

Are we over-zealous when it comes to being brand neutral? Does TGO benefit from the anti-brand edits or is it detrimental?

e.g. Question (edits) How do you wash your water repellent apparel (DWR)?

e.g. Answers (comments) Improvising Heavy Rain Protection for a Backpack


3 Answers 3


I can imagine a couple of scenarios where discussing specific brands is appropriate.

For instance:

  • A brand claims to have a unique product. For instance, this question about Arc'teryx down asks if their down is actually unique, or the same as all the other's out there. For that question, I think the answer was "no, Arcteryx down isn't better than anyone else's".
  • Sometimes, one viable answer is to use a niche product, for which only one company makes a product. For instance, Metoluis makes "Rock Rings", which are a rock climbing training product. Rock Rings are similar to hangboards, but can be slung over an existing pullup bar. I don't know a generic version of the product (because there's only one on the market, as far as I know).
  • Sometimes its difficult to be clear about what you're recommending if you don't at least acknowledge specific brands. For instance Polar Fleece and Gortex are specific brands, but they also (more or less) have the corner on the market for high-end synthetic fleece insulation and water proofing in jackets, respectively. You can talk about synthetic fleece or waterproof jackets, but mentioning the brand name is useful to underscore the fact that you actually mean the higher end product lines. I.E., if someone asks a question about the right jacket to take mountaineering, I may recommend a "Gortex" jacket as an outer layer, to differentiate from the kind of rain jacket you'd get at Walmart.

However, I agree that we should make an effort to mention the generic product categories and not solely refer to products by brand names.


I agree with David. To add to what David has already said, the following things need to be kept in mind when brand names are used extensively:

  1. Brands and choices of brands are extremely subjective. This makes the answers/questions very ambiguous and hard to digest.
  2. Brand loyalties can cause a unwanted diversion from the actual answer.
  3. Some brands are specific to certain regions. Mention of the brands and their benefits/features might actually make the answer more specific to a particular country/region and the cause of TGO being a hub for outdoor enthusiasts world over is lost.
  4. In case of questions related to brands and specific products, we need to understand that we are not a "product review" site.
  5. Also, when a brand is named specifically, the one giving the answer/question is inadvertently leading the others towards that brand even when the initial intention might not have been that. (For all we know, that brand might not be the best for the reader)

Having said that, there are instances where questions specific to products need to be taken up (As pointed out by David already). We cant be over protective of TGO but we cant be too lenient as well.

Note: The second example you have quoted about an answer is a very good example of the above mentioned points. A wiki link or a similar link (eg youtube) would be much better than the actual product marketing link.

  • @subjectiveness of brands: Although the decision may be suggestive, I don't believe it makes the question/answer ambiguous. On the contrary, it makes it unambiguous, concrete and specific.
    – ppl
    Oct 3, 2013 at 14:17
  • 2
    If an question/answer becomes subjective, it makes it difficult to be accepted by a larger audience. Hence, subjectiveness in general bad for a site like TGO. Oct 3, 2013 at 16:04

I would also add that brands suffer from the time degredation issue. The best "brand" today may not be the best brand tomorrow. This is bad for this particular format where questions get upvoted over time and answer accepted. It is far too easy to end up with a highly voted answer for a brand that no longer produces a good product.

  • I believe most brand questions would be related to specific products and not the brand in general. I guess the question doesn't make that very clear. Products may not be the best over a long time period but they generally are consistent over time. We could argue the same for old vs. new techniques.
    – ppl
    Nov 5, 2013 at 15:34
  • It is also true of specific products, as equally as for brands, if not more so. Yes the same could be made of techniques, however techniques do not change as frequently. This maps almost directly to stack exchange and the policy of avoiding questions such as "Tool A vs. Tool B" Nov 5, 2013 at 16:07

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