Based on the positive response to the shopping closure tag question I recently asked, I think the best way to handle this would be to edit the "cannot be generalized" tag to incorporate this specifically.

I would propose to change the text of the tag as follows:

Questions that cannot be generalized to apply to others in similar situations are off-topic. In particular, "shopping" questions asking about recommendations for specific programs or universities are off-topic. For assistance in writing questions that can apply to multiple people facing similar situations, see: What kinds of questions are too localized?

2 Answers 2


I don't think "shopping" is generally a subtype of "Questions that cannot be generalized to apply to others in similar situations."

Many of the shopping questions we get are very general. For example,

The fundamental problem with these questions is not just that they are too broad, because if they were narrowed down a great deal they'd still be off topic. The problem is that they are shopping questions. I don't think that "shopping" is a subtype of any of our existing close reasons.


On some other sites I might agree, but I suspect that on academia.SE, the biggest cause of the "cannot be generalised" closure is "Here is my specific situation in great detail. What course should I take / how should I deal with my supervisor / what colour of pen is it best to use?". Answering that with something that might be interpreted as "don't ask shopping questions" will just confuse.

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