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Why is “The Definitive C++ Book List” question allowed, but other book recommendation questions are not?

Why is this question The Definitive C++ Book Guide and List allowable with over 1300 votes but every question on SQL programming books closed?

  • 13
    That question's been closed before, and got voted to reopen. Then it got protected with "historical" significance, then removed. Then it got protected again. It's been through a lot.
    – vcsjones
    Jul 20 '12 at 13:54
  • People obviously think it's important and useful. Jul 20 '12 at 13:57
  • the down votes are killing me . . . Jul 20 '12 at 14:02
  • @gnat, notice that I didn't indicate I wanted to post a question Jul 20 '12 at 14:04
  • For all the down-voters, I didn't post a question that got closed Jul 20 '12 at 14:08
  • 2
    @ThomasMcLeod Downvotes are different on meta.
    – casperOne
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:13
  • 10
    It's probably being downvoted because the "that question is open but these aren't, why?" discussion comes up constantly; that post even points to the C++ book list as one of the questions likely to spawn this exact post. There's only so many times we can have the same discussion Jul 20 '12 at 14:16
  • 1
    Some people think the question is important, and others do not. For example, it causes confusion and makes people ask questions like this. :-) There is just no concensus, so it's still there.
    – Bo Persson
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:22

Take a look at the "Linked" sidebar on that question. It's linked to on a lot of other questions on Stack Overflow and elsewhere on the Internet. We'd rather leave it there than break all those links. If there was one canonical reference for SQL books on Stack Overflow it would probably get the same treatment. (Don't go create a new one though. It is off-topic and it will get closed.)


I guess you didn't read all the way to the bottom of that question...

This question has historical significance, but is not a good example of an appropriate question. Read and learn from this post, but please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions.

See the FAQ for more info.

  • That still doesn't explain why the question is neither locked nor closed.
    – Dennis
    Jul 20 '12 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Dennis because the community wants it open.
    – vcsjones
    Jul 20 '12 at 13:58
  • 1
    @vcsjones: That question requests the question to get unlocked, not reopened.
    – Dennis
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:00
  • @Dennis it isn't closed because the community voted to re-open it. The history shows that. The general point is that the SO community has agreed that while not on topic, it is useful and significant; hence the notice.
    – vcsjones
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:04
  • 2
    @vcsjones: I can see that. List of freely available programming books also got reopened dozens of times. But ultimately, the mods brought the hammer down. I'm just surprised to see that that hasn't happened to the C++ books question as well. No matter how useful, it's neither on topic nor constuctive.
    – Dennis
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:11
  1. It is there because it has been there before the scope of StackOverflow is defined.

    (List of book kind of new questions will be closed on sight.)

  2. It still exists because it is valuable to the community, and the quality of the answers is high

    (Old questions that have no value towards the community (), or low quality answers are removed.)

  3. It is left opened for continual updates to the question/answers.

    (It is valuable, so it is not deleted, but it will lose its worth over time without update.)

However, it doesn't mean that you can ask such a question now, since the scope of SO has been defined.


This question has historical significance, but is not a good example of an appropriate question. Read and learn from this post, but please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions.

See the FAQ for more info.

And that's why. It was one of the first couple questions asked while SO was still figuring out what it was, kinda like the weird rebellious teenager phase. However, questions like this were determined to be off-topic and should not be asked so we react to them kinda like the Silent against the Question.

It's not locked or closed because it's been protected. Which keeps it from being locked or closed but functions in pretty much the same way.

  • 1
    Protection doesn't keep posts from being locked or closed, it just stops very low rep users from answering Jul 20 '12 at 14:10
  • Ah. I haven't really looked into the more esoteric parts of the FAQ. That's my bad.
    – Yawus
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:12
  • @Yawus: The description of "protected" is actually right below the question.
    – nhahtdh
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:14
  • @nhahtdh Now I just feel like a complete moron.
    – Yawus
    Jul 20 '12 at 14:16

The C++ language has a pretty central, unified leadership: Stroustrup, Sutter, Alexandrescu, etc. mostly agree on what constitutes best practices. They teach seminars together.

These best practices drive the direction of language evolution and standardization. All the compilers strive to support the standard precisely, with minimal differences because a main point of C++ is portability.

We can put a stamp of approval on books that effectively explain the consensus and how to write directly to the standard.

SQL couldn't be more different. The database vendors purposely design extensions to tempt programmers into vendor lock-in. While a standard exists, it's not widely known or promoted by the vendors. I met one Microsoft "schema specialist" who claimed there was no ISO SQL standard, when I pointed out how nonstandard his code samples were.

The specific work a database does decides its platform, and that decides the language dialect. So there isn't one SQL language with a set of best practices. C++ supports different styles and paradigms, but in the end it's portable without as much respect to platform. At least when done with a modicum of best/better practices.

  • No, I don't think this is it at all.
    – Ry-
    Jul 20 '12 at 17:54
  • @minitech Reading the other answers and comments, the proper answer in Meta terms is that "the community wants it/voted for it" and "it has page hits." That doesn't answer why, it leaves a mystery the will of the community and non-community readership. This is the underlying reason: there is a fairly limited number of good C++ books so the question is less open-ended than it seems. Jul 21 '12 at 6:45

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