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The site's scope currently specifically mentions as off topic "shopping recommendations for specific products". This is to a large extent because Stack Exchange generally does very poorly for product recommendations.

However, we do occasionally get service recommendation requests. (For example, this rather old question.) These types of questions often share the same problems as product recommendation requests, and not uncommonly even more so.

I'm not exactly a fan of further limiting the site's scope given that we really don't see a whole lot of traffic, but at the same time service recommendation questions feel like they should be off topic for largely the same reasons as product recommendation questions.

Should service recommendation questions be listed as specifically off topic? Perhaps by expanding the above-mentioned bullet point to something like "shopping recommendations for specific products or services" or "questions specifically seeking recommendations of products or services". The opposite would be questions which seek to solve a problem (which a product might).

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Yes, there is no meaningful difference and expanding the wording is moderately useful.

However, if we're going to be exacting about the wording for the sake of speculative problems, then note that for questions like “Where is there a web site/program which provides the information...” there's a good chance the thing is free, but “shopping” weakly implies a purchase.

... I also kind of want the example question you give — Where on the web can I find a calendar of upcoming contests? — to remain open, but I don't have a good argument to make.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree that service recommendation questions like these should not be off-topic because it will hurt the HR SE site to not have this traffic that would help boost users participation in the site. $\endgroup$ – W8AWT Dec 3 '14 at 2:56

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