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Edit: some people have referred to Area 51 being the place to ask this kind of question. Can this question be moved there by someone?

Edit 2: people see problems with this proposal: it would be too subjective, commercial interest of publishers, spam, etc. But maybe we can think in a positive direction - there are many people who benefit from discussion on what resources there are on a certain programming topic. There are excellent blog posts out there on certain topics. How could we build a site that helps solving the "what resources can I use if I want to know more about programming topic X?" The answers could be: this and that blog post, this and that chapter from books X and Y. I'm sure a lot of people could benefit from such a community powered index, even if the answers are subjective. What if we took that for granted? Think in possibilities instead of problems.

I'm a big fan of programming books. As I'm working in education I often like to use (parts of) books that already exist. It saves time and students get used to actually reading these books, which is a good thing. However, every time I ask something about programming books on Stackoverflow, my question gets closed. I think there should be a site dedicated to programming books/resources/tutorials so people can happily ask there, without getting the disappointment all the time from the rigid "the question is not suited for this site" replies.

Examples of questions I asked on Stackoverflow which are suited for this idea:

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closed as off topic by Manishearth, hims056, Toon Krijthe, Martijn Pieters, Shawn Chin Dec 19 '12 at 11:11

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This is not the place for this proposal. Area 51: area51.stackexchange.com –  Austin Henley Dec 19 '12 at 9:28
So, what is the place Austin? It would actually help if you told me that. –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 9:29
So you want a site about book recommendations, correct? (Just to clarify) –  Pëkka Dec 19 '12 at 9:29
@Pekka A site where people can ask questions about programming resources that are considered subjective on Stackoverflow, but actually very useful to a lot of people. –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 9:30
I see an issue here, some books can be better than others and you may have conflicts on the questions and answers. Is subjective the book matter. I have almost all books on c/c++ and other similar and only some writers are good to me. But to judge that I was need to read all that books, and work with them for years. And probably some writers are close to me, some others close to you. Amazon I think is the place for the books. –  Aristos Dec 19 '12 at 9:34
@Aristos Why did I get 110 upvotes on my clojure books question? stackoverflow.com/questions/2578837/comparing-clojure-books Because people find these questions and answers useful. These kinds of questions can't be asked on Amazon. They belong on a site like this. –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 9:36
@MichielBorkent You may get 110 votes and sure I wish to not pay for a fully library of books but know from begging what books are for me - but this is the case ? Can we be the judge for any books - is subjective and personal opinion. Let the other finds out what is the best book. Amazon do that years now. Also the book is connected with the pay of money to buy it - and only this make it subjective. –  Aristos Dec 19 '12 at 9:39
@MichielBorkent upvoted or not, book recommendations are just not a good fit for the reasons Pekka mentioned below. Other subjective questions are not a fit as well. Some subjective questions are a fit for Programmers, but you have the read their FAQ to understand what is on topic or not. If you want to create a new site, then check out Area51 as has been suggested. –  psubsee2003 Dec 19 '12 at 9:41
@MichielBorkent in response to your edit, Area51 is a place where you physically propose a site idea. There is a Meta-like discussion site, but it isn't really for proposing sites, it is for discussion current and past proposals. So moving this there really won't solve anything. If you feel your proposal will work, go and propose it. –  psubsee2003 Dec 19 '12 at 9:44
@MichielBorkent Also if you know it, there is a pay fee for referred books on amazon or other site - how you deal that ? the spam. The site will going to be one big advertise book store, clone of amazon review... no good idea. –  Aristos Dec 19 '12 at 9:46
@Aristos What if the site would just be a non-subjective index of what chapters/pages of what books, blogs, tutorial, etc you could use on a specific programming topic? –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 10:00

3 Answers 3

Don't get me wrong, I would totally love to see something like this - a site where experts recommend books and resources. A resource I can check out when wanting to learn a new language, for example, and maybe even get a custom-tailored recommendation for my specific situation. How cool would that be!

However, I anticipate problems with this approach. A site like that would effectively become a giant list of shopping recommendations. There are good reasons why those are deemed off-topic on Stack Exchange sites, it's not an arbitrary decision because the community hates people getting good advice: the experience is that it doesn't work in the long term. See eg. Jeff Atwood's article on the issue.

A book shopping recommendation SE site would probably suffer from the same problems "list of X" questions suffer from on SO:

  • They tend to outdate quickly, and there is little incentive in keeping them up to date

  • They tend to attract spam and link-only answers

  • The voting isn't going to tell you much about the book recommendation's quality. Everyone with the required reputation can cast a vote.

also, casting the concept into an entire website makes me think how you plan to cast the required circle of experts to make valuable recommendations. What would draw them to a site like that? Who would do the tedious task of curation when there is no long-term rep to be won - seeing as the number of questions is likely to be finite? There are only so many topics one can need a book on.

People asking for lists of programming books have been directed to Amazon and its reviews in the past. I'm inclined to think that is the best way of dealing with this. Or a community initiative outside the SE - like a Wiki, curated by the top 10 SO users in a tag. But a Stack Exchange site? I don't think it will work.

I'm open to being proved wrong, of course!

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See my comment to you in the main question. –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 9:37
I read your comment - the same problems apply though, as far as I can see. I would love to see a functioning resource that does this, but I'm not sure the Stack Exchange approach is the right way for it. –  Pëkka Dec 19 '12 at 9:40
- little incentive to keep it up to date: what if the voting system took care of that? The more up to date, the more upvotes it will keep receiving –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 9:54
- spam: community powered sites can cope with spam, it gets downvoted - quality: true, but the answers could also include free resources with no commercial interest. it would still be subjective, but still it would be a great way to find resources –  Michiel Borkent Dec 19 '12 at 9:56

Area 51 is the place for site proposals such as this.

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This would be the proper place to propose new sites: http://area51.stackexchange.com/
Be sure to check that there isn't already a similar proposal. :)

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