Personally, I think they should stay.

Book Tag

Programming books don't come cheap and as a student you don't know which one to buy given the plethora of books available.

Say I want a book on testing,

  • I could buy Software Engineering: Practitioners Approach by Roger Pressman
  • I could buy a book by Ron Patton on testing
  • or the classic: The Art of Software Testing by Glen Myers
  • I have read all the three books so I know that, although prima facie they look the same, it is only when you open and read them that you come to know that each offers a slightly different perspective on testing.
    Although Glen Myers' book is a classic, it hardly contains any cartoons which a beginner might expect and cartoons are present in Ron Patton's book.
    So, I think the tag should stay and we should encourage the use of it.
    On the down side, users will post shopping lists which must straight away be closed.
    How I believe it should be used is:

    I want to buy a book on testing. I have short-listed a few. Could you please tell me which one to buy? Here is the blah blah blah list

    As an answer you should not give an out right recommendation but rather state the down points and plus points of the book:

    Pressman's book is good if you just want to have an overview of testing. It also contains introduction to various life cycle models along with their drawbacks. Ron Patton's and Glen Myers' books are dedicated to the topic of testing. However if you are a visual learner who prefers some not-geeky infographics, then Ron Patton's book may be the one for you

    The same would apply to any book on programming language. Head First books are great for beginners.

    Anyways, I have posted the topic here just to get a feedback from the community.
    I believe students/beginners must be allowed to post such questions given their lack of experience. And in all honesty, this is an area where the expertise of a veteran comes in handy.

    Or maybe we can create a question that contains reviews on various books from various veterans. A list of all things and when a user posts a question on a book, he should be referenced there. In case the list does not contain what the user asks for, we should expend and effort to get them what they want.

    • Any type of book review questions are pretty much frowned upon. – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 3:45
    • @AshRj yeah I got that from the downvotes I got. At least it chould be incorporated in SO policy to state the reason for downvoting – Little Child Jan 12 '13 at 3:46
    • 2
      Downvotes on Meta mean "I disagree". There are a multitude of questions here on why comments/reasons for downvotes will not be implemented, if you search – simchona Jan 12 '13 at 3:47
    • +1 for letting me know :) – Little Child Jan 12 '13 at 3:50
    • See my last question. – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 3:51
    • Congratulate me, I was also paying attention here so I saw your question – Little Child Jan 12 '13 at 3:53
    • 1
      Yet you posted this :) – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 4:29
    • 1
      Software Engineering: A Practitioners Approach by Roger Pressman is not about testing. – Bill the Lizard Jan 12 '13 at 4:30
    • 3
      It is not about testing but it includes chapters on testing. I have the book sitting on my desk as I type :) – Little Child Jan 12 '13 at 4:46
    • Can I buy just those chapters? – BoltClock's a Unicorn Jan 12 '13 at 4:57
    • @AshRj when you reference another question or answer, you should link to it. Just because it is your most recent question now, doesn't it always will be. – psubsee2003 Jan 12 '13 at 8:48
    • @psubsee2003 It is referenced below as a comment. And believe me its not that hard to miss if you have a look at my profile/questions, it will stand out pretty prominently because of the large number of downvotes – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 9:22
    • @AshRj I understand that and I had no problem finding the question you were referencing, but I was just suggesting a more general course of action, especially for Meta where comments tend to have a much longer lifespan. If someone looks at this question 4 months from now, you are going to make them hunt through your question list to find what you are talking about? – psubsee2003 Jan 12 '13 at 9:30
    • @psubsee2003 In this case, Yes :) Generally, no. I always add the reference. – asheeshr Jan 13 '13 at 7:34

    Recommendations are not constructive, and in some cases, completely off-topic.

    While I understand the dilemma, these types of questions aren't appropriate for the Stack Exchange format.

    As I write this, all but one of the questions on the first page of the tag are closed; that's pretty damning right there.

    | improve this answer | |

    I just brought up the Amazon pages for the books you list:

    You can actually flip through several pages in two of them if you want to get a feel for them, but beyond that each book has numerous reviews...

    And... This is my chief objection to trying to shoehorn book reviews into Stack Overflow. There are already sites that make this very thing their bread and butter - they've been doing it for years, and they're pretty damn good at it. Meanwhile, we've been working on this system for collecting answers to specific questions. We've shaped and honed this tool for that purpose just as they've refined theirs, and... Well, you're pretty much saying we should encourage the use of kitchen knives for driving screws just because we can.

    Use the right tool for the job - you'll be happier that way.

    Incidentally, I do believe there is a place for book recommendations on Stack Overflow and Stack Exchange, just as I believe there's a place for tips, tool recommendations, etc. But it's not in ad-hoc questions and answers, it's in carefully-curated wikis created by individual communities to aid folks who don't yet know enough to ask good, specific questions.

    | improve this answer | |
    • 1
      In this specific case, Software Engineering - Pressman has a 2.5 rating on Amazon. However, by going through the reviews, you can see that the low ratings of 1,2 are given by disgruntled students whereas the 4,5 ratings are from working professionals. However, none of this is obvious from first glance. This is where i think SO needs to come in. Amazon is not the best place to look for accurate reviews on technical books or atleast thats what i have observed over the last few months for many different books. Some of the best technical books have mediocre to poor ratings. – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 4:57
    • That's why there's that handy bar chart that lets you jump to the top reviews for each rating level. SO doesn't even have a facility for aggregating review scores, much less sorting and grouping them - you just get the most popular reviews floating to the top, which can mean they're good reviews, or maybe just that... Well, a lot of disgruntled students agree with them. – Shog9 Jan 12 '13 at 5:04
    • Reviews are crowd-sourced, and crowd-sourced knowledge is the basis of sites like SO and reviews on Amazon. You are arguing to go against crowd-sourced 'wisdom' on Amazon. Doesnt that defeat the purpose of reviews on Amazon itself ? If it does not, then this means that the process itself is broken, which again implies that reviews are unreliable. – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 5:14
    • See this as well meta.stackexchange.com/questions/161970/… I dont want to repeat the same arguments from there. – asheeshr Jan 12 '13 at 5:17
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      @AshRj: crowd-sourcing isn't a silver bullet. You can't ask for everyone's opinion on something and expect the opinion most relevant to your needs to magically rise to the top. That's why SO encourages specific questions, and why Amazon makes it easy to scan multiple reviews. – Shog9 Jan 12 '13 at 5:20

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