Some SE sites seem to dislike requests for references.

Are we considering the following two questions on-topic:

  1. What is a good book which covers in-depth topic XYZ [from ABC angle]?

    Seems like very useful, but some people freqently consider them objectionable due to being "list" questions.

  2. What are some of the most essential research papers on topic XYZ?

    This also sounds a bit list-y, but research papers can usually be ranked (e.g. by citations #) so it sounds not so subjective or listy.

  • 1
    Some SE sites? I'd say most, only a handful of sites tolerate them.
    – yannis
    Dec 21, 2012 at 21:11
  • @YannisRizos - "some" because I don't know about most. I'm only an active participant in a few, so I am only aware of some. Feel free to edit if you have more of data points.
    – user4012
    Dec 22, 2012 at 6:18

2 Answers 2


Not going to give a definite answer (yes or no) as I'm a sort of outsider, but I wanted to give my insight hoping that it helps.

I'm a moderator on Linguistics SE and there we allow reference requests. There are two main reasons why we do:

  1. The site is relatively small and such questions are not so frequent.
  2. The papers are going to be of a small number anyway.

If and when the site grows and the number increases uncomfortably, then we'll cut them. But if you check the link I gave, they do not go over 5 answers and only one actually reaches that number.

I'll get to the point.

Questions get Not Constructive not simply because they ask for a list. That is not sufficient. If the questions asks for a list, but the list is going to be of 4/5 elements, then the question is fine as it's narrow enough.

So what I think is that you should consider this: if you allow such questions on Politics, what kind of answers are you reasonably expecting?

I'm not aware of how many politics-related texts, papers, articles or books there are, but if you know that this is going to be a problem, then say no. You might give it a try and see how it goes.

In any case, if the site decides to allow them, then I suggest to put some requirements (make the question as narrow as reasonably possible).

  • 6
    Well, since you've posted your first (helpful) post on Politics you are no longer an outsider. Welcome!
    – yannis
    Dec 22, 2012 at 21:46
  • @YannisRizos Thanks! :) I meant outsider as I'm not really into all of this, and so I lack the experience to know enough about references and the like, which I have on Linguistics. :P
    – Alenanno
    Dec 22, 2012 at 21:47

The issue with reference requests in a field like politics is that to a very large degree, even the facts on a particular topic can be quite subjective. I agree with a lot of what @Alenanno has to say in his response but fear that these types of questions will result in a litany of materials because each political viewpoint will offer up a collection of readings reinforcing their own "facts".

In addition to the number of responses and the length of lists such questions are likely to generate, these types of questions would be quite a challenge to successfully moderate to ensure only the most factual, unbiased selections are allowed to stand.

As such, I vote no on these types of questions.

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