One of the options you're presented with when nominating a question for closure on the basis of being off-topic is as follows:

Questions on price-shopping for specific goods or services are off-topic as prices and availability change frequently in many locations. See: What is a shopping question?

The "What is a shopping question?" link links to https://stackoverflow.blog/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping/ which is basically arguing that so-called shopping questions should be off topic because they're primarily opinion basis (which is already a reason for closure).

Anyway, I'm willing to accept that asking around for the "best price" is off topic but asking about the availability? There are lots of questions on TSE that ask about where to find things that aren't closed. eg.


The question that is specifically prompting my own is Where can I get unscented deodorant spray in South Korea?

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The reason Shopping questions are discouraged, it seems to me, is because the answers will be out of date so quickly; one shop lowers its prices and another stops selling whatever it is, and the 'correct answer' is instantly invalid. No SE site can keep up to date with such things, and the obvious thing is to ask when you get there, whether at a tourist information centre or the receptionist at your hotel.

But there's no reason to extend that to any question asking "Where can I get...?" The South Korean question is about a (perceived) cultural difference, and the answer "any pharmacy, so long as you ask for the right thing" seems to be a model for Travel questions; closing because of a view that shopping here means 'any question relating to purchase of anything' (as it may do on other sites) is wilfully obstructive.

The Bangkok question seems the weakest in this regard, as the answer may change or external research might help (note that in no case can both reasons apply). But it still doesn't deserve closure: foreigners need to know where to buy these tickets, and a change of price wil make no difference. Anyone who can provide the current answer will be doing what this site was set up to do, namely make things easier for travellers unfamiliar with the system.

The German question is even more clearly on-topic. These particular maps are apparently valuable to travellers in Germany, and they are not on general sale. The answer is clear, but nobody would call it obvious to a non-German.

And I'm having difficulty seeing how the Iceland question could ever be connected with shopping. If it were "are the forest tours organised by the Regal hotel better than those by Geysers'R'Us?" then I agree it would be out of place, but "what parts of Iceland are free of sheep?" is both objective and unrelated to purchase of anything.

The only obvious link between these questions is that a lot depends on the answers; it might be that a few minutes research given the right keywords would have made the question unnecessary. But the qualification is important; most questions are easy once you know the answer. I would be very disheartened to think questions like these could be closed because somebody intoned the word Shopping.

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If I recall correctly, that specific clause was brought in to prevent a raft of "What/when are the cheapest flights / hotels / [insert travel method here]..." and I think that is still the primary intention. Those kinds of questions are hard to answer and have no value long-term precisely because travel method and accommodation is so dynamic, and "cheapest" has a different connotation for everyone in terms of how much time they are willing to trade of for it, for example.

So perhaps there's a case here of clarifying what that means.

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Questions about "prices" are off topic on the site because they change frequently, meaning that any answer quickly becomes out of date.

Other "shopping" questions such as "Where can I find/buy X?" or "How can I do Y" are usually on topic because they don't have the "frequent change" problem associated with prices.

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