The question https://stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-available-programming-books is currently closed as not constructive.

Though looking through the list of reasons

We expect answers to generally involve facts, references, or specific expertise; this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion.

Alright well, the top answer now has a mega list that involves references.

Now, let's say we delete all the other answers, those that don't add value. What are we left with?

A useful link-filled canonical resource of free programming books

The post is a wiki. "this site is collaboratively edited, like Wikipedia" So we are in the business of making canonical information. Mission accomplished on this one.

No one else might immediately find the question useful or search for it, but the question once read actually educates people with something new and useful that they feel good about learning. It should inspire a greater reaction than a shrug.

So what say you, you anti-list-of-x users? If all the other answers are deleted, is it not useful, factual and a reference based resource that helps the Internet be better?

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    Where are all these "facts" you speak of? I only see opinions, opinions, and more opinions. – animuson Mar 2 '12 at 20:11
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    Looking at the first list point "25 Free Computer Science Ebooks" is that a reference or an opinion? The fact is each item in that list (where the list is this-> stackoverflow.com/a/392926/321505) is a reference to a freely available book. An opinion is subjective, you cannot subjectively say whether a programming book is free or not. It's either free or not, I guess I am trying to say that is where the fact resides. Other answers such as "I recommend X it's the best" are indeed opinionated. Please clarify – phwd Mar 2 '12 at 20:17
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    You're misunderstanding the context of the word "reference." You're seeing a "link" to a book. However, a reference is only really a reference if something from that book is used within the context of the answer. That's like writing a paper which is only a bibliography... Sure, you have references, but what use are those if it's only a list and you don't use them for anything. – animuson Mar 2 '12 at 20:21
  • You're assuming the question is still a question and the post itself is not a resource of programming references. Reference has many meanings outside of bibliographies. The difference between en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Hollywood_novels or this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_books or this en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lists_of_lists is none. Context here is that a list of programming books is being curated as a wiki. – phwd Mar 2 '12 at 20:29
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    But that's not the kind of "referencing" we want in a question. Dive into the second sentence there: this question will likely solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. References are great when they supplement a real answer. – animuson Mar 2 '12 at 20:32
  • You are still seeing it as a question<->answer I am not. I said if you delete all the other answers, what are you left with it? I am trying to show you that what you have is a resource, it's no longer a question <-> answer relationship Opinion is subjective of which there is none in that particular post stackoverflow.com/a/392926/321505 (to prevent you from having this Q&A mindset again), polling cannot apply if all answers are clumped into 1 wiki post. We are abusing the system on meta as well meta.stackexchange.com/questions/7931/… – phwd Mar 2 '12 at 20:38

As far as its make up, reason for being and execution, it's still not constructive. Even at its current paring.

It is just a prompt for people to list all books they've found PDFs and other links to that are about programming or development.

If you deleted all other answers and leave just the MegaWikiOne then you're left with a non question. Something that spilled out of the tag repos (retroactively) and into a puddle of mudd.

Those sections individually, per programming language, exist more constructively as a section of their respective tag wikis. Showing new users some live and correctly licensed books they can start their programming hells in. After a while, you're going to have to stop reading all these books one day and fire up the localhost, IDE or chumby and start actually developing.

Next thing you know it'll be forever enshrined on a mantle if there's a link to it from the SE blog network no matter how many more reasons exist for it to just be deleted.

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  • Your'e right, I didn't think about users who would just link any and every book that is remotely related to programming. iswydt – phwd Mar 2 '12 at 23:48
  • So are tag wikis searchable through the site and google yet (in the same way questions are?) – George Stocker Mar 3 '12 at 0:23
  • So now it's a question of if it's searchable and not that it actually fits or is even constructive? @geo – random Mar 3 '12 at 0:28
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    @random You can add the books to the tag wiki all you want, but if no one on the internet can find the new 'useful' information, you shouldn't delete the old one that is linked to and easily searchable (and has a high pagerank). – George Stocker Mar 3 '12 at 0:30

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