A recent question about the availability of flip-up seatposts got me wondering if these questions are on or off topic.
To me, this seems like a pretty clear-cut example of a shopping question: the OP wants one and, presumably, wants us to tell him what his options are. It happens that in this particular instance, the answer is that he can't get one and has no options. But it's easy to imagine a similar question with many options as answers.
What's more, information about what is and isn't available "tend(s) to become obsolete quickly," which is the reason we give on our on-off topic page for closing shopping questions. In this particular case, somebody could fire up a Kickstarter campaign tomorrow, be selling these seatposts in a year, and then all the answers to this question would be dead wrong.
In spite of all that, this question has received a fair number of views, upvotes, comments, and answers. And absolutely no flags or close votes. I also seem to remember (although I can't find it at the moment) a similar question recently that the community didn't object to. This seems to imply that the community sees these as different than shopping questions.
So my question is: should we treat "is this available" questions as shopping questions and close them as off topic, or are they somehow different and on topic. If they're different, how so?