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I have asked for sources to read from about a specific topic from the current language standard. As the language standard is new, and the functionality has been built into the language for the first time (from what I understand), why are such specific questions considered not constructive?

Will it not help to have a sort of repository of links that are updated to the current standard especially regarding something new in the language?

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15  
A repository of links is exactly what we are trying to avoid... –  Yannis Oct 31 '12 at 14:18
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Google, Amazon, and the SO Chatrooms are all better places to look for this sort of information. –  Andrew Barber Oct 31 '12 at 14:25
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at SO, more or less appropriate place for sort of repository of links... is tag-wiki. "An editable page that briefly summarizes the topic of the tag and that may provide links to existing questions that are often useful to many people..." –  gnat Oct 31 '12 at 14:28
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Unless there is a single specific source for this information, you will never get a correct answer for the question. SO doesn't like questions that cannot be correctly answered. –  Bo Persson Oct 31 '12 at 14:28
    
I agree with everything that's been said here; one exception though: it may be okay to ask about something like this in a chat room. –  Pëkka Nov 1 '12 at 13:39
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Does crowd-logic/crowdsourcing work in a chatroom ? I dont think so. –  AsheeshR Nov 1 '12 at 14:21
    
@AshRj crowdsourcing doesn't... but if you're looking for a good teaching resource on topic X, it's likely that an expert in X is able to tell you what the good sites are. –  Pëkka Nov 1 '12 at 14:57
    
@AshRj +1 for question... –  Tony Stark Mar 14 '13 at 10:43

2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

The purpose of Stack Exchange sites is being a repository of expertise, and knowledge, not a repository of links.

The problem with those questions asking for links to resources is that:

  • The resource could not be always available, or stop to be available. If that happens, the answer should be edited, but without any context is not possible to know what the new link to the resource is.
  • There can be new resources available. It means somebody would need to add a new answer every time a new resource is available.
  • Old resources are probably not so interesting for future users, who just need links to the new resources. The point of Stack Exchange site is not just being useful to who asked the question, but also to future readers. In fact, if the question is only relevant for the user, the question could be closed as too localized.
  • Every answer is equally valid.

The link rot problem is also present for those answers that reference an official documentation. It already happened that links before valid have been not anymore useful because the resource has been moved to another link, without thinking of compatibility with the past links.
The difference is that in such cases there is a context (e.g. the programming language, the function name), and it is possible to find the new link. The other difference is that such answers use the link as reference, but the answer is still readable even if link rotten happens. It is different from getting a link to a page that is anymore accessible.

Most of the times, a question asking for resources can be changed in a question asking how to do something; if the question is being asked because a real problem you are having, that is always possible. For example, instead of asking for links showing examples on how to use hook_node_load(), you could ask how to use hook_node_load() to achieve a task, and if there are other methods to achieve the same result.
If you are writing code, your final goal is writing code, not finding a link. Your problem is not finding a link you don't find, but writing code you are not able to write, or writing code that is more correct when you cannot think of the correct way to write the code.

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2  
So if someone were to copy and paste a web page's content, that would be considered ok, but just linking to the actual web page is wrong ?! –  AsheeshR Nov 1 '12 at 12:52
    
No, it would not be. Merely copying and pasting the content of a web page to answer a question is not acceptable either. What is acceptable is answering the question with your own words, and then (eventually) giving the link to a reference page. That is different from an answer that is merely a link, or that contains just copied-and-pasted text. I didn't say links are not acceptable; differently, it would not be even possible to link the documentation. –  kiamlaluno Nov 1 '12 at 12:59
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How can that be identified, especially if that text answers the question ?? –  AsheeshR Nov 1 '12 at 13:01
    
Your question is about questions requesting links, which you consider useful to build a repository of links. For such questions, the important part of the answer is the link; the fact the answer also shows an except of the linked page is irrelevant. Questions about resources are not constructive, whatever the answers show an excerpt of the linked page, or they don't show the excerpt. –  kiamlaluno Nov 1 '12 at 13:14
    
@kiamlaluno +1 for good answer.... –  Tony Stark Mar 14 '13 at 10:44
    
Any answer becomes obsolete with time, even if it doesn't contain any links. –  user626528 Jun 21 '13 at 6:23
    
@user160319 Yes, but there isn't anything worse than an answer saying "see this link" which forces you to read a long text, just to let you discover it is obsolete; it is even worse when the link cannot anymore be accessed, and you never know what the linked page said. In my experience with Drupal, not all the answers become obsolete. That is the case of answers about the Drupal API: There could be new functions, but generally an old function is rewritten to use the new one. –  kiamlaluno Jun 21 '13 at 10:00

Questions that are nothing more than a request for external resources don't really fit the Q&A philosophy and format of the site:

  1. Resources get outdated,
  2. Links tend to go stale,
  3. People tend to post and/or upvote their favourite resources, instead of the useful ones1,
  4. Spammers love those questions.

And more importantly, you are not presenting us with a problem to solve. We are programmers, problem solvers by nature, and we need to be challenged and entertained. Nothing challenging and/or entertaining about posting the first result of an Amazon search as an answer.

Lastly, without an actual problem to solve, people will just post answers ad nauseum, and the whole thread will quickly become extremely difficult to navigate and maintain, if not impossible.

Further reading:

1 Popularity != Quality. Unless you're a Bieber fan.

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5  
+1 for the Bieber remark alone.. I wish I could downvote on music charts, really.. –  Martijn Pieters Oct 31 '12 at 14:43
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@MartijnPieters "I am flagging this song because it is an exact duplicate of last week's number 1". –  itsbruce Oct 31 '12 at 15:49
    
@itsbruce: Oh, yes, please! Nickleback, begone! –  Martijn Pieters Oct 31 '12 at 15:52
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That being said, links (as well as textbooks) are still useful as references in detailed answers. I am thinking of something along the lines of '[citation needed]' on Wikipedia. I have found some baseless answers from respected community members, and sometimes, a link to a more definitive resource would have been able to clear that up. Something like the "Further reading" section you have at the end of your answer is great too. –  Ehtesh Choudhury Oct 31 '12 at 19:56
    
+1 for good answer.... –  Tony Stark Mar 14 '13 at 10:45

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