I posted an answer to this question which is just saying "There are devices precisely for this", does this still count as a life hack? Should questions as such be on-topic when the "hack" is "go buy one of these" ?

I'm inclined to say yes, I just want to get it on record and from the community what the correct approach is.

  • 1
    A poll isn't the right way to get consensus on meta - especially not in the early days of the site. People need to talk this out if they have opinions on the matter.
    – hairboat
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:27
  • @abbyhairboat that's fair, was just trying to help. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:28
  • No problem. It's a good question that should be addressed on here - just not via poll :)
    – hairboat
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:28
  • I think this could use a scope tag (and maybe answers too). I'd edit them in myself, but I don't have the rep for it here, and suggested edits don't work on meta. Commented Dec 27, 2014 at 19:42

3 Answers 3


I think that what we're looking for is the simplest solution to a problem. If you recommend a device that's been made to solve the problem, and you think that it's the simplest solution, then that's perfectly okay.

I feel like if we didn't allow people to suggest devices that actually solved problems, then it would just be a competition of finding the most convoluted way to avoid using already made devices. If the lifehack is more work than the product that it's trying to avoid, then it isn't a lifehack.

Now to fit in with what the definition of a lifehack is supposed to be. Since the most commonly accepted solution isn't really a hack, it should be important to note if the simplest solution isn't a hack.

An example of this would be if a person asked how to peel an orange. The common solution would be using an orange peeler. There might be other methods, but if using an orange peeler is the simplest method, then it can simply be noted in the answer that there is no lifehack for peeling an orange, and using an orange peeler is the best method. Then, ideally, the answer would continue to share the other methods anyways, for the sake of providing the most complete answer possible, and avoiding a mess of multiple short answers.

  • agreed. I see potential for X/Y problem here though (People asking for X but needing Y) in the form of "Is there a device for X?" when a better solution to the unstated problem is Y. Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 22:01
  • Thats why I started the "substitute tool" tag...for the "x for y" issue mentioned above.
    – Phlume
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 17:41

No. A specific tool thats made for this specific task is not good.

Keep in mind that a lot of stuff that can be bought in [where you live] can't be bought [someplace]. The regulations about what is in shops differ widely across the world and so does supply.

Lifehacks should aim to solve questions with tools as generic as possible. I think its all right to assume people can get hold of wood or some similar building material, a tool set to work that wood, regular non-electric kitchen tools, everyday stuff like pencils, ballpoints, glasses, buckets, a sharp knife etc.

Your answer to that question presents a very sophisticated tool that only serves that one purpose, its unlikely to be found in a random kitchen and will not be available in places where consuming of milk and cheese is uncommon.

Such stuff is fine as comment to the question or as note in an answer, but can't stand on their own.



I think if it is a tool, then it would be akin to a product recommendation, and therefore off-topic (google the problem to find an amazon purchase solution).

I feel that in the spirit of the site the "lifehacks" are an everyday substitution/solutions that users/readers can apply to circumvent the problem without having to but a product or tool.

However, using an existing too made for something else to solve a different problem should be on topic. For example: Using a leaf rake as a make-shift sifter on a wheelbarrow as a quick solution to clean dirt from sod chunks to save the soil and compost the grass/roots.

Sometimes though, in the case of this question: What is the best way to open clamshell packaging?, the hack isn't about the tool, but as in the best approach to using the tool. For me, my answer implies that a single cut along the side can cause skin injury, but by opening up two sides of the package, the user is able to reach their hand into the package easier.

All in all I think it is a case by case basis, but straight out answering with a product or tool recommendation should be frowned upon.

  • 1
    This makes a lot of sense to me!
    – liebs19
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 21:44
  • why the DV not sure how it's a "bad answer"?
    – Phlume
    Commented Dec 11, 2014 at 17:40

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