It seems like a decent number of off-topic questions are book requests/advice on which book is best for topic X. Someone should add to the FAQ section on "What not to ask" a line: What is a good book about __________?

Admittedly, I'm not sure how many people read that section of the FAQ before asking a question, but it seems common enough that it should fit in the appropriate section of the FAQ.

This is similar to Can we add "recommendations" to the list of "What kinds of questions should I not ask here" in the FAQ? but when I read that I think of what IDE, or language, or design pattern is best, not a book recommendation.

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    Asking for recommendations surely includes books. So the request you link to would cover that quite nicely. And we can't reasonably extend the FAQ to include all kinds of specific sub-topics not to ask about.
    – Bart
    Apr 27, 2013 at 19:09
  • Fair enough, I've just seen a lot of these lately. Perhaps I need to be more active in pointing people to the FAQ. Thanks for the response. Apr 27, 2013 at 19:37
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    If it's about books, feel free to point them to the tag wiki excerpt which states "DO NOT EVEN THINK OF ASKING THIS QUESTION. List questions (shopping lists) are not suitable for Stack Overflow and are going to be closed as "Not Constructive" immediately.". ;)
    – Bart
    Apr 27, 2013 at 19:42
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    @Bart unless you are C++...
    – hayd
    Apr 28, 2013 at 0:18
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    @Bart: The problem is that people who want to ask "find me a book/tutorial" question won't think of them as "list questions" or "shopping questions" or whatever generalized name we want to use. Apr 28, 2013 at 2:26
  • @NicolBolas Have a look at this feature request the OP linked. Surely telling users not to ask for recommendations would cover it? I agree that the other terms might be confusing.
    – Bart
    Apr 28, 2013 at 6:28
  • @hayden The history of the question you're hinting at is a bit more involved than a simple "because it's C++" though. But I'm sure you're aware of that.
    – Bart
    Apr 28, 2013 at 6:52

1 Answer 1


Questions of this type are shopping questions. They have been banned on each of the three trilogy sites for some time now, and many of the rest of the sites in the Stack Exchange network also prohibit them (though there are a few notable exceptions such as Unix and Linux where they're mostly tolerated).

You can safely close these questions as "not constructive" or "off topic", though I prefer "not constructive" as that makes it more clear why the question isn't allowed.

Further reading:

  • What exactly are the "three trilogy sites"? Are they Stack Overflow, Sper User and Server Fault?
    – user216620
    Apr 28, 2013 at 15:31
  • @DavidBlayney Correct. Apr 28, 2013 at 16:01

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