Please help me pick one of these bicycles and store benefits

Why exactly is my question receiving down votes? As I said in the comments if its because it asks about the bicycles and the shop benefits then I am happy to split them into two questions. Instead of receiving any feedback though I'm receiving lots of downvotes and an answer that spends more time telling me to go with other options then discussing the ones I'm interested in.

I'd really like to know why and how I can improve the question. On the Graphic Design stack exchange we have a guide to asking critique questions. Do you all have a guide for writing bike-suggestion product-rec questions? Perhaps its something for you all to consider if not.


4 Answers 4


Generally speaking, shopping questions don't function well on Stack Exchange sites. This is because they tend to be very opinion oriented and have too many possible correct answers. See this post for more info.

Loosely speaking, the golden standard for Stack Exchange is a question that has a single best answer. This means that if you ask what features you should look for, your question is more likely to remain open and get upvoted. For example, there is an objectively correct answer to "What should I look for in a bike for road racing?" but there is no objectively correct answer to "Which road bike is better?" See this question for more info about that.

I saw in the comments that you mentioned the product-rec tag. It's really only been in the past year or so that the community has really become fully aware of just how problematic shopping questions are, which is why you'll see a number of open questions with the product-rec tag. Many Stack Exchange sites ban them outright. There has been some discussion about doing that here, but it hasn't actually happened yet.

  • Well I mean right now one of the top questions on your page is bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/20518/… which has a good answer and upvotes... it also has yet another tag bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/shopping which appears to have lots of questions in it.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 21:43
  • The first question you link to is a shopping question, yes, but an extremely specific one. This meta thread might illuminate how this site aspires to handle shopping questions in general. Based on the logic there, your question can't really be answered definitively as I don't think there's any way to provide a canonical answer. Commented Mar 4, 2014 at 22:43
  • @Ryan You'll note that the question doesn't have any upvotes, just the answer. Personally, I think that one should be closed too.
    – jimchristie Mod
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 12:58

The first comment on the question explains it perfectly: It's a shopping question. These kinds of questions can work when the asker explains what, exactly they want and for what specific use.

But your question is asking for the "best" bike for one of several uses. That means it boils down to preference and opinion. People just plain don't like questions that boil down to "which bike is the best bike?"

I'd also note that the questions you link to in the same comments thread are much more specific questions than yours, which is probably why they remained open.

  • I'd counter that the first comment doesn't say anything because it says "Becomes dated" which I took, and I think this is a fair thing to take, is that the bike components and prices might not exist in say 2015 or 2016. So I asked for clarification and instead of getting any it was down voted. Now I've got some clarification so I'll make the necessary edits. Thanks.
    – Ryan
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 1:46
  • 4
    @Ryan The second paragraph in this answer is the important one. And for what it's worth, I wish people would have simply voted to close rather than downvote since closure votes don't hurt your rep.
    – jimchristie Mod
    Commented Mar 5, 2014 at 13:00

It's not just that it's a shopping question...

The tool-tip for the downvote button says "This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful." When people downvote without commenting, you can assume that people felt the tooltip applied.

Your question is extremely unclear:

  • It's not clear because you don't give any information on the bikes you're looking at, you just link to the specs. The only way someone could advise you is by following the links you give and studying those specs. There's also the problem that even if someone's willing to take the time to follow the links, they might not be work in the future, making the question useless.

  • It's also not clear because other than "commuting two days a week," you don't really say what you're looking for in a bike. You're making people guess which bike would suit you the most.


It's a "feature" of SE I think.

When asking the question, you need to know enough about what you're asking about to be able to phrase the question in a "tight" way.

I think this is a pity, since people who need the most help, people whose question is basically "I don't know what's going on here, can somebody help me?" (i.e. a very "loose" question), naturally fall foul of this.

It's particularly ironic because the people who frequent the SE sites have an enormous wealth of knowledge, and probably could help you, if they were so inclined. And then there's the objective (good) versus subjective (bad) argument - I'd suggest that possibly the most useful answers on here are subjective, because they're based on peoples' real-world experience.

But on the flip side, especially when the question is "what bike should I buy?" you can imagine there could be hundreds of permutations that come into play. Maybe something as trivial as what colour you want the bike to be. So how do you safeguard against a thousand "what bike" questions appearing, all basically the same but with subtle differences?

I think the trick you bear in mind is that when you ask a question, people will look at it not so much as how the answer will benefit you, but how it could also benefit the next visitor, the visitor after that, the visitor coming along next year etc. It's quite amusing because you realise you have a knowledge-base site whose primary goal is not be be a knowledge base, but to keep itself spick and span. But for better or worse, that appears to be SE policy.

If its any consolation in your particular case, by the time you buy your second bike, you'll know exactly what you want!

  • 1
    Within a few months of buying the second bike, you may discover even more of what you want and have to buy a third bike. You don't stop needing more bikes until you don't have room for another one.
    – freiheit
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 19:31
  • @freiheit need = have plus one! Always. There is a semi-serious point here, though, and this is for your first bike, don't break the bank.
    – PeteH
    Commented Mar 8, 2014 at 19:35

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