I asked a detailed, definite question about how to go about upgrading a video display adapter (which is personal computer hardware) inside a Dell Vostro (which is personal computer hardware), when there were apparent limits on the power supply.

Upgrading video adapter for Dell Vostro 220s to Geforce 7800 or Radeon 1800?

WHY was this closed as "Off-Topic"?

The FAQ says these kinds of questions are acceptable:

If you have a question about …

• computer hardware
• computer software
• personal and home computer networking

And it says the question should be about "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face," which it was.

There were no other comments or explanations, just the "Off-topic" note.

I'm rapidly drawing the conclusion that one of these explanations is true:

  1. The FAQ is out of date and hardware questions are off-topic (please update the FAQ).
  2. Five people are unaware of the criteria for on-topic questions and close questions that should not be closed.
  3. Five people are aware of the criteria, and are misbehaving by closing questions that should not be
  4. Five people are intolerant of any person they regard is not as enlightened as they are, and don't mind appearing fairly rude for shutting down questions they just don't care to see.

I don't like any of these explanations. I'm a long-time user of StackOverflow, and just haven't needed to use SuperUser much. This is not the kind of behavior I've come to expect from any of the sites on StackExchange.

So, what obvious thing did I completely overlook that explains both

  1. Why my question was obviously off-topic, and that I should have known better, and
  2. Where the heck on StackExchange am I supposed to ask questions about upgrading video cards in personal computers? (maybe put that in the FAQ, too).
  • By the way: Down votes are automatically cast by the system when a question is closed as "off topic" or "not a real question".
    – slhck
    Aug 21, 2012 at 15:19
  • I seem to remember it being downvoted before I noticed that it was closed. Obviously, the date/time stamps suggest otherwise. (Far be it for me to accuse any skullduggery.) Regardless, this was not a pleasant first time experience here at superuser (as I mentioned, I'm not a noob to stackexchange). I hope the second time goes a little better.
    – Alan McBee
    Aug 22, 2012 at 18:36
  • Well, all I can say is: Don't take it personally, please.
    – slhck
    Aug 22, 2012 at 19:51
  • I've been playing with electronics for about 35 years, and programming for 30 years. I'm way past taking things personally. I think I generally agree with Jeff's thoughts on site policy. But I wanted to share I think that this type of encounter could be improved. Here's a suggestion (I don't know how many shopping questions you get, so it may be overkill): Put a checkbox on the question entry page, titled "This question is not intended to solicit recommendations for specific products," which must be checked before the question can be asked.
    – Alan McBee
    Aug 22, 2012 at 20:25
  • I'm pretty sure I voted to close it because it "wasn't a real question". First, it was a shot-gun blast of questions, instead of just one, and second, (to me) it seems like you're asking "All the video cards of this type require at least 350-400W. Since I can't change my power supply, where can I get an equivalent card that only needs 300W?" :) It's also bordering on "Too Localized" (again IMO), as the only problem you're really running into is your specific chassis's design, which you're not able/willing to replace right now. Aug 25, 2012 at 19:34
  • @techie007 - Seems like you're presupposing that I already knew how to answer my own question! When I asked the question, I did not know a) whether other video cards even existed that were more powerful but could run on 300W, b) whether it was even possible to get a more powerful power supply that would fit this PC, and c) that the chassis size was a major limiting factor. I know that NOW because someone tried to answer my "not real question" with a real answer. If I knew all that before asking the question, I wouldn't need to ask it, because I'd have known there wasn't a good answer!
    – Alan McBee
    Aug 27, 2012 at 21:26

1 Answer 1


What's a moderately inexpensive and competent way to upgrade his video adapter? Is there a video adapter that will run with 300W, but has basically the same characteristics as the nVidia or ATI adapters? If he doesn't have lots of slots filled, can we get away with a smaller power supply?

Your questions is asking for product recommendations, which is off-topic for all Stack Exchange sites.

If that was not your intention, feel free to adjust your question so it can be reopened.

Even if your question could never be a good fit for the site, feel free to drop by the Super User Chat any time and ask your question there :)

  • 5
    In this case I think with some minimal editing it could be made into a decent "how do I solve this" rather than "what can I buy". It's 99% there - if it can just be changed to address "how do I figure out how much power it'll draw, and how much power I can supply" then it'll be a fine question.
    – nhinkle
    Aug 20, 2012 at 17:49
  • 1
    Yeah, it's a VERY fine line sometimes. The problem is that people are much more inclined to just ask for what they're actually trying to do/get/solve, rather than taking a step back and trying to ask a more general question that will be more applicable to people for "time immaterial". We are looking for the latter on SU, to the extent possible. Still, this has got to be one of THE most frustrating rules for people trying to use this site to solve a problem. Once people wrap their head around why this rule is a good thing, they generally write much higher quality questions. Aug 20, 2012 at 20:43
  • I accept the answer, and I protest the decision. I still think my question was appropriate. My ACTUAL questions (quoted in the answer) did not ask directly for product recommendations (although I suppose a lazy answerer could have provided only that). Question #2 could be answered Yes or No, as could question #3 (though hopefully more guidance would have been provided). Question #1 could have been answered with something like "the limits of the system prevent a good upgrade." At any rate,, closing it without explaining better why (especially for a first time user) was a bad call.
    – Alan McBee
    Aug 22, 2012 at 18:32
  • 1
    I too have encountered the users who want to close questions because, gasp, it might touch on something that could be applied in a shopping context. Horrors! But if you read the post about why shopping recommendations are off topic, you can see the spirit of that rule is quite reasonable: we can't answer questions like "which is better, MacBook Pro or MacBook Air?" Because we don't know the usage scenario. But the community has taken it too far, IMO, and reasonable questions with context & very concrete, objectively answerable questions may get closed. Welcome to Superuser!
    – Josh
    Sep 5, 2014 at 20:35

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