I'm operating under the understanding that we generally don't allow list questions unless it provides some real value to the site. It seems that the lists in particular that are discouraged are ones that request more book suggestions on a certain theme or of a certain type. Is the tag becoming a replacement for now?

3 Answers 3


The tag just needs to die across the entire Stack Exchange network.

It is indeed the same type of discussion starter that are but with more opinion and flavour guessing.

Knock that tag down and follow it up with all those questions asking about other works of scifi that feature a certain plot point, character trait or universe construct.

In the end, they're not Q&A questions, they're book club discussion topics.


There are different types of list, e.g.:

All recommendations are lists, but not all lists are recommendations.

In terms of what should be closed, I feel that the first category is fine (with every correct item listed in the one best answer, not one answer per item), and the second and third should be closed (they are essentially unanswerable). (These are really covered under the "are list questions allowed" question, though).

The StackExchange sites in general (excluding meta) tend to frown on questions that lead to one-item-per-answer type answers, with voting being a poll.

If you look at questions tagged and we are currently very inconsistent. I think that reflects the mixed feelings that you can see in meta at the moment. Hopefully that inconsistency is resolved soon, as it makes it hard for people to know what is acceptable to ask.


Looking at the questions currently tagged , I see two types. Some of them are indeed lists in their worst form, for example Book recommendations that deal with the Fermi Paradox. They ask for a list of works, and require a purely subjective rating (as opposed to a relevance or importance rating, which can have some value). They are firmly

Other recommendations are different: “if I enjoyed …, what else might I enjoy”. These are definitely subjective questions, but they can be good subjective. Earlier the community was rather in favor, though maybe some people's opinions have evolved based on the kinds of questions that were actually asked. My problem with the existing questions that fit this category is that they tend to be overly broad. Example: I enjoy reading Heinlein's books. Which other authors write in a similar style to him?, Is there anyone like Terry Pratchett in the sci-fi world?.

I would tend towards allowing focused recommendation questions (“I enjoyed authors A, B and C, except for works W and X, and I dislike D, what should I try in subgenre S?”). But I haven't seen any question that's remotely focused enough for me to consider it good.

Then there are a few questions tagged which don't fit this mold, such as What order should I be reading the Discworld books in?, Are there any better English translations of Solaris available, beyond the original translation from French?. Following the reasoning behind the removal of the subjective tag on Stack Overflow, I've removed the recommendation tag from these questions.

Given how disparate the questions tagged or are, I think they are meta tags and should not be used. But that's a topic for another day.

Note that my examples are not meant to single out any particular asker, I just took the first example that I considered representative of a category.

  • It is puzzling to me that the community did seem to be in favour, and yet these are being closed. If recommendations are ok, but the specific questions are bad, isn't that a call for a down-vote, not a close-vote? I agree that focused recommendation questions are great - and despite what people say, they are extremely common across the SE network, with very high votes in many cases.
    – Tony Meyer
    Feb 1, 2011 at 7:45
  • I think you were right removing the recommendation from those questions. However, I think that recommendation on a question asking for a specific book/movie/whatever is appropriate, and not a meta tag (it does describe the question).
    – Tony Meyer
    Feb 1, 2011 at 7:47

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