So I have seen an awesome question about useful books for a E6 campaign. However, the question is for D&D 3.5e, while I am interested in playing Pathfinder, so I asked the same question, but about PF. It was closed as a shopping request, while the first question was not. Since the last close vote was put by a mod and there were 3 more, I believe all of those 4 voters have actually seen both questions, and the older one is not closed, even though they are pretty much identical.

I do not think that any of them has any of the problems related to shopping requests mentioned in Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!, and both should stay here, as they are not real shopping questions.

But consider the voluminous amount of information you need to even begin properly answering a shopping question:

What is your budget?

Irrelevant, PF and 3.5e books are not that expensive, and content may be accessed for free in SRDs.

Where do you live?

Irrelevant, content may be accessed through Internet.

What are your preferences?

Specified in the question, to play Pathfinder E6 (or 3.5e E6, respectively) with more stuff than present in the the Core.

Which alternatives will you consider?

Obviously, no alternatives, the choice is specified in the question, it is PF under E6 rules. Or 3.5e under E6 rules in the case of the other question.

When do you want to buy?

I ask what books can I use to make my PF game better. The other question asks the same about 3.5e E6. It is not even specified if something is to be bought, not just legally accessed for free through SRDs.

Let’s say the question asker provided all that information. Fat chance, I know, but let’s pretend for a moment they did — and we were able to provide the perfect, ideal shopping recommendation to them. Even if that was the case, technology moves so rapidly that the best shopping recommendations will be utterly obsolete within a year!

Irrelevant, the books that were good for 3.5e in 2013 will still be good at 2017 or 2020, so will the books for Pathfinder.

So, both questions actually aren't shopping questions. The first one got a cool answer by KRyan, the second question could get one too.


3 Answers 3


Both questions are opinion-based (personal definitions of "useful") shopping questions. The major difference is that one was asked after our no-recommendations policy was put in place, and one was asked before.

And per the no-recommendations policy, we don't hunt down old questions to close, and instead only deal with old questions when they come back to our collective attention by being bumped to the front page, turning up while doing a search, or mentioned in a meta as a reason that a new question shouldn't be closed.

Because an open meta is running on the subject I would hold off for now, but had I seen your question when it was first closed, I would have also taken care of the old recommendation question it's based on too, by closing it as a shopping question and putting a "historical lock" on it that explain that, though it was once considered a fine question, it no longer meets our standards as a fitting, on-topic question.


The previous question has (barely, admittedly) criteria - which books have the most usable content for an E6 game. This provides some sort of objective goalpost, as then "Bestiary 5, which has mostly monsters of CR12+" or "Prestige Classes of the Inner Sea, which has all prestige classes you take at levels 6+" (not purely correct examples) are bad answers. Now, shopping questions are OT now anyway, but at least this one had one semi objective criterion to hang its hat on.

Your question just says "what should I get?" There are no criteria at all besides "what you think is cool bro." You then say "not just what you think is cool," but you fail to provide any other criteria than that; "work well" or "is good" is effectively just a synonym for that. So it could also be closed as opinion based or too broad. There were a variety of different close type votes IIRC - it's a shopping question, and too broad (all PF and 3.5e books ever?), and opinion based (what works).

We tried for quite some time to have these kinds of questions on the site, with Good Subjective, Bad Subjective criteria as the yardstick. The community proved it was unable to do that reliably. Therefore shopping/recommendation questions are off topic here, as they are network wide in general.

I'm not going to debate theory about why they are or could be or whatnot. We tried it, with quite a bunch of effort and permutations, and the quality of the questions and answers were poor. In fact, this question is a good example of a poor quality shopping question, so it's not even standing or falling on how it might be answered.


In addition to the fact that the 3.5 post occured earlier than the ban on reccomendations, the 3.5 question is largely saved by KRyan's excellent answer, which is fully well supported, well organized, and highly practical. The actual question is rather broad and doesn't really give clear judgement criteria, but KRyan took 'best for new players' from the description and that scoped the question enough to be answerable.

You'll note the answer is still a detailed overview-- there's information about what to get to make things simple, then information on what to get to get the most stuffs per book for various areas, as well as an explanation of why you might want to use each criteria-- because the question failed to provide clear criteria to evaluate books based on; in my opinion it's this thorough analysis of which criterea are relevant and why, coupled with good, well supported answers for each criterea, that 'saves' the otherwise problematic question. Obviously, a new question doesn't have that answer posted on it, so it needs to stand on its own merits. You can fix your question, though, so that you can more probably get the answer you're looking for, just by rewriting it to ask for that answer. So:

  • ask for how to best expand your options in terms of a single thing (like 'first-party E6 full caster spell options' or 'first-party E6 player race options' or 'first-party high-level E6 feats')


  • ask for an overview of the different directions one might go in terms of expanding one's library for the purposes of expanding the material available for an E6 game

Now, you're still going to possibly run afoul of the 'too broad' close votes (though I think you really shouldn't), but there's not a whole lot you can do about that.

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ +1: While, theoretically, a good answer shouldn't "save" a question, in practice it does happen, and I agree with you that it's probably happened here. \$\endgroup\$
    – Miniman
    Aug 8, 2017 at 6:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ This would be good advice to make a better shopping question. But shopping questions are now OT. \$\endgroup\$
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 8, 2017 at 12:20
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @mxyzplk I don't think these changes result in a question that is still a shopping question, at least as defined by this site. There is quite a bit of discordance with regards to the definition of shopping here, so since the question-as-edited is clearly allowed by the network-wide 'how to ask a shopping question without it being a shopping question' guidelines (version one has now been edited to avoid mentioning books so as to avoid triggering the unthoughtful) I think it's a reasonable shot at getting past the gratuitously overbroad portion of shopping interpreters. \$\endgroup\$ Aug 8, 2017 at 19:00

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .