Where should I post question like:

Where can I find books on [some programing subject]?


Online sources for learning [some programing technique]?

Stackoverflow? Programmers? Should it be community wiki? or is it a taboo in the SE universes?

  • 1
    @Bill the Lizard: check this discussion about the differences between technic and technique. Some interesting stuff going on there.
    – HuBeZa
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 14:09
  • Whoops! I'd never seen the word "technic" before, and my browser's spell checker agreed. Sorry about that. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 14:12
  • @Bill your correction is in place. The word "technic" is archaic, and we better use the more common "technique". I'm surprised to see that the French-like spelling is more popular than the English-like.
    – HuBeZa
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 15:12

3 Answers 3


On the one hand, I've found such posts to be very useful (a recent query into OSX driver development led me to such a question on SO, which pointed out the seminal reference that I was unaware of).

On the other hand, too many of these questions turn into a subjective everyone-pile-on-with-their-favorite-reference answer fests which are unproductive.

I'd say that if you have a specific programming problem or task, and you don't think you know enough to ask a specific question about it yet, but you do need to get started, then asking for references is a reasonable question that should remain open.

You must keep it narrow. "I want to write a compiler, what book should I use?" is far too broad. "What online and/or text references to using OpenCV in Python should I refer to before starting my face detection project?" Should be fine.



Believe me, the question's already been asked, many times over.

I could pull one out for every represented language on Stack Overflow.

  • @George, I have already checked this list, and haven't found what I'm looking for - good resource, preferably free of course, for learning .NET lock-free coding.
    – HuBeZa
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:21
  • 1
    I just noticed that question was locked. Makes me sad.
    – moinudin
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:43
  • 2
    @Marcog if you want to add an answer, add it to the accepted answer. There's no reason to edit the question. Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:48
  • 4
    @HuBeZa: Isn't that just slightly localized? That might garner a chapter in a book. If we have a new question for every possible chapter in every possible programming language...
    – user1228
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:48
  • @George I didn't actually realise you could edit answers to locked questions. You can't add new answers though. Oh well, I'll accept it but doesn't make me not sad.
    – moinudin
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 13:53
  • @Will, I agree with Adam Davis: "You must keep it narrow".
    – HuBeZa
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 14:05
  • @HuBeZa: Again, to take your example literally, we'd have a thread about every chapter-level topic covered in every programming book for every programming language. Its too narrow.
    – user1228
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 14:43
  • OT: @Will, are you familiar with Kant's Categorical imperative? "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law." I think it's a good practice for SO. But I am a greedy man, raised in a capitalist society, and I want an answer to my question!
    – HuBeZa
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 15:40
  • @HuBeZa: I kan't see how your philosophical argument applies in this case. Because, if it did, I couldn't have made that pun.
    – user1228
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 15:48
  • @HuBeZa I think that for that topic, you could actually write it as a stand alone question, "How do I get started with .NET lock-free coding?" with more meat in the body (I've looked for a good reference, but haven't found any (or found X, Y, and Z, but have lingering questions). Where is a good resource for learning about this topic? What are the basic principles, tricks, and traps? When should it be considered, and when should it be ruled out?) It's a broad topic for a single question, but if you ask a small set of specific questions, chances are good one or two answers will be links.
    – Pollyanna
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 15:54
  • @Will, I interpret your words to: "if everyone will asks these kind of questions it will cause too many too specific threads." and it remind me of Kant's (in)famous philosophy.
    – HuBeZa
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 17:05
  • Page not found link is broken Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 6:38

problem #1

What's to say a good book today is a good book tomorrow? Or the next day, or the next day? In 2007, The "ASP.NET tips and Tricks book" (that Jeff Atwood and others published) was a great ASP.NET book, but today, there could be better choices.

problem #2

Secondly, it's somewhat subjective. There's no real 'fact' here. I may think Fooing widgets, 3rd edition is the BESTEST EVAR. You may think the 2nd edition of 'Baring Foos' is awesome-sauce. Either way, what happens when the OP picks one or the other? It's all opinion.

Finally, the answers could go on forever. There are 3.3k+ titles on Amazon for books about C# (according to an Amazon search on books for... wait for it... C#), so you could conceivably have 2,948 answers on the 'best book for C#'. Who's to say that one book is better than the others?

If you want a book recommendation, look at blogs or Amazon reviews. Stack Exchange is not the place for it.

You can ask for recommendations in chat!

Your best bet is to first see if anyone has created a chat room for what you're looking for and then if not, create a new chat room first, something like Recommend me some books. Then stay in your room, and possibly draw some people in from active rooms (like the tavern, the lounge, casual chat) with a polite, discrete post, something like:

Hey everyone. I am looking for some book recommendations. If you have them, join me in [link to your room](http://url.of/your/room)

Remember that while chat is realtime it's also archived, has RSS feeds, and can act like a forum as well. So You can create a chat room and as long as you keep it active, you can return to it days later and see what was said when you were gone. So you don't have to worry about missing any recommendations.

FYI, This is what what Jeff Atwood himself did when he wanted recommendations for a new router.

Do not ask about shopping recommendations on the main site. They will be closed. It is offtopic.

  • The problem with your problem list is that those are generally applicable problems. Problem 1 also applies to a number of other things; what is a good cryptographic algorithm to use today may be criminally inadvisable tomorrow. What is the best function to use today may be deprecated tomorrow, or worse it may change slightly between versions. Problem 2 also applies to the overwhelming majority of programming questions. In any good language, there are always multiple time-complexity-equivalent ways of doing something. And similarly such things will often differ by toolchain, tool version, etc.
    – root
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 13:51
  • Your point about there being 3.3k titles on Amazon is somewhat fair, but at the same time the fact that there are 3.3k titles can make it pretty difficult to sift through. Additionally, it can be difficult to tell whether a review is from a real person, or someone similar to yourself in their background. On SO, you can see who added a recommendation, and check them out to see whether it's something you'd want to follow up, without getting any noise about action figures they've bought or non-coding books they've read.
    – root
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 13:54

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