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Can someone explain to me in detail why this question was closed as off-topic, and how I might change the question to an appropriate form?

Book and paper references about over-engineering

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What's unclear about "Questions on Stack Overflow are expected to generally relate to programming or software development in some way, within the scope defined in the faq."? – Arjan Apr 6 '12 at 19:32
What's unclear about it is that my question fulfills the criteria listed in the faq, but nontheless it was closed. – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:35
I'd say it fulfills the criteria of What kind of questions should I not ask here? – Arjan Apr 6 '12 at 19:43
@Arjan: which criterion specifically? – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:45
See Popular's and slhck's answers. – Arjan Apr 6 '12 at 19:46

Your question doesn't involve any concrete programming problem, which is a good indicator for being off-topic on Stack Overflow. Check out the FAQ again:

a specific programming problem

You don't have one. You're merely asking for references on a certain concept. This, in essence, boils down to a "Here's a list of …" collection. We don't encourage these kinds of questions. Nowhere on the network these are on topic.

It's easy to say "Migrate this to Programmers.SE!". People often suggest this, not being familiar with both communities, but the folks from Programmers have made it clear often enough that this is not what they want.

That's what I meant by my original comment. Programmers is not the trash can of Stack Overflow, in the sense that not every question that is marginally related to programming and off-topic for SO is good for Programmers.

If you were asking for a specific explanation of the concepts instead, that'd be way more constructive. The references to books and papers should follow in the course of a good answer.

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Software engineering is on-topic at Stack Overflow. Your question wasn't closed because it was about software engineering.

Your question was closed because it's a "list of X" request — in this case, X is "books and papers" — and those are considered inappropriate across the Stack Exchange network.

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Thanks. Do you know how I can phrase a question so that others on the site can share with me their expertise in why and how to avoid over-engineering in a large software project? – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:49
@StrongBeliefs Just don't ask for the references. Show what you already know and ask specific questions about what you still want to learn about. – slhck Apr 6 '12 at 19:51
@StrongBeliefs in addition to what slhck said, you may get better results at Programmers SE. Note that I agree that your original question would not be wanted at PSE any more than it was at SO; however, since this is about high-level architecture (not a specific bit of problematic code), PSE would be the better site for your next, more focused post. – Pops Apr 6 '12 at 19:57

The issue is (I believe) that there's not a "right" answer to this question - it's more of a discussion type question.

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Thanks, that's very helpful advice. – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:36
Arjan, if you could be more specific, I'd appreciate it. – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:37
I wouldn't say Programmers is a good suggestion. It's not the trash can of Stack Overflow. – slhck Apr 6 '12 at 19:37
@StrongBeliefs - the way to say "thanks" in the StackOverflow world is to uptick (or mark correct, or both) an answer. – Scott Wilson Apr 6 '12 at 19:37
@ScottWilson: I can't, I don't have enough reputation. – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:38
@slhck: It would help me a great deal if you could explain why you think my question is "trash". – Strong Beliefs Apr 6 '12 at 19:39
I removed the Programmers suggestion since it seems controversial. I have seen many "discussion" type topics on that forum, but a quick search for "literature" shows a lot of closed questions. I believe my answer to @StrongBeliefs question is correct. – Scott Wilson Apr 6 '12 at 19:43

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