I noticed this question: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/194812/list-of-freely-available-programming-books

I feel the question is against Stack Overflow policy. Asking for 'some' or all free programming books is very vague, and will result in a very large amount of "correct" answers. This can be very well seen from the top-rated, compiled answer. I can't really even say if the question is a real question at all.

Seeing that the question is very old and has gained an amazing amount of reputation, it seems the moderators agree that the question is allowed. Can you explain to me why this is a good question? Wouldn't it be better to compile the information to e.g. Wikipedia? Also, will the compiled best answer become outdated at some point or will someone update it ad infinitum?


1 Answer 1

  1. This question was asked at a time in StackOverflow's early history, when such questions were more acceptable to the community than they are now.

  2. The quality of the material in the question is very high, and clearly of interest to the community at large.

  3. The question is marked "Community Wiki," so no one gains reputation from upvotes on the question or any of its answers.

  4. The question is considered one of the legendary, historical questions of StackOverflow, and therefore merits preservation on that basis alone.

  5. The question cannot be safely migrated to another site (like Programmers.SE), because it might be summarily closed and deleted there, which effectively amounts to content destruction. Moreover, it is better for other sites to develop their own community, without interference from questions like this being migrated to them.

  6. The question is locked, so it can no longer be edited, closed, deleted, or answers added to it.

  7. Just because the question exists on the site, doesn't give you carte-blanche to ask similar questions. To reinforce that point, I have added my custom StackExchange™ SuperCollider ArchiveHeader™ to the question.

  8. Finally, it is possible that someone could potentially ask a new question like this that is so good it survives on the site, in spite of its off-topic nature. But it is highly unlikely.

  • Ok, points 1, 4 and 5 explain a lot. So the reasons are historical. I still feel Wikipedia would be far better for preserving information like this. Actually, I'm astonished the list doesn't exist in Wikipedia -- maybe licensing prohibits copying it over? Mar 30, 2011 at 7:53
  • Point 8 doesn't make sense in this context. This question is many things, but subjective is not one of them. I didn't look very hard, but I didn't see anything in the history indicating that anybody was asking for "recommendations", "best", "favorite", or anything else that would indicate subjectivity.
    – Gabe
    Mar 30, 2011 at 8:35
  • @Gabe: It's a "poll" question, asking for a list of items with no single correct answer. In any case, I removed the word "subjective."
    – user102937
    Mar 30, 2011 at 14:17
  • 2
    @dancek: If you move it to Wikipedia, our community loses control over it. It's probably off-topic at Wikipedia anyway; they don't like random lists either.
    – user102937
    Mar 30, 2011 at 14:37
  • @Robert Harvey I'd also point out that the question's accepted answer can be edited so it can continue to be a good repository for free online programming books. Mar 30, 2011 at 18:05
  • @Robert Harvey: I don't really see the point WRT control (neither of us controls SO). Also, lists are allowed and even recommended in some cases on Wikipedia, and there are plenty of lists of books already. Mar 30, 2011 at 22:06
  • Not sure what you are getting at. Just because you can, doesn't mean you should.
    – user102937
    Mar 30, 2011 at 22:21

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