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 recommendations tag becoming a replacement for list now?
The recommendations tag just needs to die across the entire Stack Exchange network.
It is indeed the same type of discussion starter that lists 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.:
- Lists with a finite, small, number, e.g. "What sci-fi film scores and soundtracks have won an Oscar?"
- Lists that for practical purposes are infinite, e.g. "What science fiction contains elements of human transformation?"
- Lists that are very long, e.g. "What works were most influenced by The Prisoner?"
- Very broad recommendation lists, e.g. "What are some interesting alternate history stories?"
- Fairly specific recommendation lists, e.g. "Novels like Larry Niven's The Mote in God's Eye"
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 list and recommendation 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 recommendation, 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 recommendation 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.
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.