Are questions simply asking for recommendations for books on a (political) topic on topic for this site?

I am aware that this has been discussed before here and here but as far as I can tell this was never conclusive. I recently saw this question which is what made me ask myself this question.

To me, this question feels off topic because it is asking for general information on a wide topic, as opposed to other reference-request questions I have seen which tend to be trying to find specific information but I am interested to see how other users feel.

  • Maybe blend in something about requests for reference material generally? That is, not only books.I have frequently wanted to ask "where do I learn about x-y-z?" And the rebuffing is frequently severe.
    – puppetsock
    Feb 26, 2020 at 23:07

1 Answer 1


A completely fair question, however, I think the problem with the question in question is then more about the generality/vagueness of it rather than it being a reference request (for which there is a tag)? Also, as the OP wrote in the question, he definitely respects and acknowledge that it may be considered too philosophical (in which case it was implicitly suggested that the question be migrated), and should (and have now done so) add 'broad' to that.

I think, to answer your question, book recommendation questions are (imo) on topic: tags for them (such as reference-request) exist on many other sites, and have been very useful for me as a user many times. I often find myself explicitly searching through others reference recommendations on stack, and I believe there's a reason for the tags to exist. I also think that even though no conclusion may have been made in the meta questions you refer to, I am not sure this question adds much more to the discussion. I e.g. agree with much of what is said here, and can see many of the problems with these type of questions as well. However, I still find those type of questions useful. Instead, we should really be explicitly discussing removal of the reference-request tag, or to include stricter requirements on such questions. As the tag reference-request exist, I think it's only fair to ask such questions, especially if being mindful about the possible vagueness it might take, and taking at least some precautions, and trying to be specific.

To conclude, yes (as this is a very opinion based question), but the real question should be about the broadness/vagueness many of these questions may take, and the question is then whether we can tolerate that in order to have the benefits such tags bring or not. I think both sides have their good points, but in the end I think there are natural reasons that such questions become quite common across the whole of Stack exchange, and I think many find them annoying, and many find them useful, so having a tag for them makes it easy to both ignore as well as focus on them respectively.

I also acknowledge that even though I may be part of the community as a whole, of mathematics.stack specifically, I am however very new to this site, and I respect fully if the cultures on different sites doesn't always coincide.

  • 1
    Perhaps the best solution is to create some sort of canonical meta question about what a good reference-request question looks like since as it stands, the tag wiki kind of encourages these very open questions. Feb 13, 2020 at 13:35
  • @CoedRhyfelwr That would indeed be a much better question, and a very good one in my opinion. There seems to be some interesting discussion here as well: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/57383/… Feb 13, 2020 at 13:39
  • @CoedRhyfelwr As I've understood that those sort of questions are not really welcome on politics.stack (despite the tag), and since I guess (to which I agree) that the nature of the question (even though explicitly not intended as such) would perhaps have generated too much bias in the answers, I've decided to delete the question entirely. Even though I respectfully disagree with how it was handled initially (and almost felt it had to do more with the subject than the form), I completely respect it, and want to (despite it not being custom) sincerely thank everyone who voted to open it again. Feb 15, 2020 at 12:18
  • I'd also rather look at it from a more open scientific/sociological/psychological perspective anyways, and guess it was thus better suited for less political forums from the beginning. Feb 15, 2020 at 12:36

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .