Proposal: 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping

Are opinion based questions, like "What is a good free CAD software for 3d printing that supports Linux?" Be allowed. This kind of question may make more sense on SR, but I feel as though it should be on topic here.

In addition, should recommendations on 3D printers be allowed, as again, it is a 3D printing related site(HR will be coming out soon as well).

In summary, are recommendations, which are heavily opinion based, allowed on the site?

3 Answers 3


I don't think this should be a place for recommendations, more questions about specific usages; things like

  • issues with printing software; there could be tags for each
  • specific usage questions about each software
  • how to choose a plastic for your project
  • what characteristics make the best extruder

But there should be no questions explicitly asking what should I buy. At that point it becomes a flame war; and often suggestions will become obsolete soon after posting.

  • 1
    I understand the idea behind keeping recommendations out of most Stack Exchange sites but I wonder if there is any way we can have flexibility/guidelines around recommendations for part upgrades for printers? It is often challenging to find accurate information on printer and material compatibility when looking into a new hot end, extruder, etc. The ability to upvote answers could lead to some trustworthy recommendations... Not sure how well it would work in practice though... Oct 8, 2015 at 6:57
  • 3
    @KevinMorse one of the biggest problems with "what should I buy" in this realm is that the technology, brands, and products is changing quickly. An answer suggesting one product (cutting edge today) is either obsolete or the company went out of business a few months later. This ultimately leads to a never-ending stream of suggestions, which is what the Q&A format seeks to avoid.
    – user6153
    Oct 9, 2015 at 0:32

There is no way to completely remove answerer bias from most questions. Nevertheless, appropriate questions and answers should be facually based and not be opinion based on any stack exchange site.

For example:

  • "Which printer is best?" is off topic as it is completely opinion based.
  • "What printer is the most popular (as in number of people using it regularly)?" is on topic as it looks for a specific factual answer (number of regular users).
  • "Which cheap printer should I buy?" is opinion based and off topic.
  • "Which inexpensive printers are reasonably capable of doing X?" has some unavoidable opinion but would be on topic in terms of that. It could easily be a list based question which is only on topic if there is a finite and roughly constant number of these.
  • "How do I determine if a printer is capable of meeting my needs before purchasing?" is a much better question.
  • -1 for your second and fourth points; popularity is still completely opinion-based, and the fourth should be edited to focus on the issue: "I want to do X. How do I do that?"
    – fbueckert
    Oct 13, 2015 at 21:49
  • Popularity is popularity. How, exactly, are you going to limit popularity to only the site population? It turns it into a poll, which is still a close reason. Multiple, really. Too broad, Primarily opinion, even a case for Unclear can be made. At the end of the day, popularity is a poll. It's rather irrelevant to the problem at hand, which you haven't given an example for.
    – fbueckert
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:26
  • @fbueckert 1: I explicity state that I mean popular here to mean most used which is not opinion based. It does not ask about the opinions of the answerer but for information about the market. This is not asking what 1988 song was the best but what song sold the most singles in 1988. 2: Your comment about the fourth one misses the point completely. "How do I do that?" is the main kind of questions we want. But all of these bullets are discussing different ways to rephrase a clearly opinion based question "What printer is best" into something that can be on topic on a stack exchange site.
    – kaine
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:29
  • @fbueckert why would I limit it to the site population...that misses the point entirely. Asking about poll results is not the same as asking for a poll. This is equivalent but easier to type version of the software question. The answer is opinion based questions are off topic which we seem to agree on.
    – kaine
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:32
  • And how, exactly, are you going to gather that information? The point isn't just that that information is propietary for a reason; it's also that it's going to change on an extremely regular basis, and is generally a shopping rec in disguise. Why does knowing which printer is most popular a useful thing? What does that knowledge bring to the table? It seems more like an XY problem than an actual objective question that has long term utility.
    – fbueckert
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:32
  • You're right that we're agreeing that the questions are off-topic, but the reasoning for those points is somewhat suspect, which is why I'm arguing against them; focus on the problem that people are trying to solve, not what they assume the solution to be. That is generally what most recommendation questions can be boiled down to, and hopefully can be salvaged by editing them to be such. Those where they can't, because they don't actually have a problem should be closed.
    – fbueckert
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:34
  • @fbueckert Maybe but it is still better that "what is a good printer?" which is a more obviously bad example of the "What is a good free CAD software for 3d printing that supports Linux?" from the question. Doesn't matter, this isn't worth discussing. The answer is opinion based questions are off topic.
    – kaine
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:35
  • @fbueckert Oh and I would love to know that answer to "what printers are the most popular (as defined as frequently purchased/used)" because I think it would be an interesting look at the market. I you know where I can read that... cool.
    – kaine
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:37
  • Yes, okay, it would provide a little bit of interest. But the point of SE is write once, read many. You can't really answer that in anything approaching a timeless fashion, nor does it actually have any utility to, y'know, focusing on the skillset. Okay, so this printer is most popular. And? What does knowing that help you? That's the point I'm making; there's lots of cool questions you can ask that aren't really appropriate for SE. This is definitely one of them.
    – fbueckert
    Oct 14, 2015 at 3:40

There is as much aesthetic value as technical when dealing with fabrication. Trying to completely avoid opinion is a mistake. Two printers may have identical specs but one may produce prints that look better in certain materials or settings may need to be adjusted to make something look better. Looking better is an opinion but it is often something most people will agree on even if it's hard to quantify.

  • This concept of objective vs. subjective answers is a common and important theme on all SE sites. A good answer on any of these sites is required to the founded in facts. If pure opinions are permitted, this can result in conflict and (to me worse) untrustworthy answers. Questions that clearly only solicite such answers are not permitted either. You are right: subjective qualities and bias will show up but objective support usually can be found. Well defended opinions have value. We don't want people to fight over Mac vs. PC here but we want them to be able to ask about both and get facts.
    – kaine
    Oct 22, 2015 at 21:10

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