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We often migrate resource request questions to meta, and there's no denying that some resources are very useful to the users of this community.

Here's my attempt at broadly categorising these requests:

  1. For resources that help the community in doing research for better questions and answers.
  2. For resources that help only the OP and are probably useless to others.

I'd like to see us reach a community consensus. Please express your opinions in an answer. I'm writing one myself, and expect your votes on that answer to show your approval or disapproval.

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    Good question and good answer. We should probably also encourage people to see the FAQ question on resources before they post a resource request: english.stackexchange.com/questions/1482/… – RaceYouAnytime Jul 22 '17 at 13:10
  • I'm not sure I get this. I'm all for resource requests (actually in either main or meta, but the consensus long ago was set to meta). But this question is trying to judge what particular kinds of resource requests are appropriate or not? I'm having a hard time thinking of what's a bad resource request. Can you clarify? – Mitch Jul 22 '17 at 15:24
  • @Mitch This (quick) question is not bringing up new concepts. Just trying to conclude (again) what is already discussed in various comment threads, chats and meta posts over these years. I'll have to look for some bad ones to show you. But most likely they're now deleted. – NVZ Jul 22 '17 at 15:36
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    @Mitch We don't get many resource requests, and we don't get many bad ones in particular. But it'd be nice to have this act as a signpost when we come across new ones. – NVZ Jul 22 '17 at 15:38
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    Are you referring to resources that are not already included in What good reference works on English are available? In other words, if someone asks, "Would you recommend a good resource for finding idiomatic phrases?", we would (I assume) refer them to the Idioms, expressions and slang section of the aforementioned community-curated list. – Mark D Worthen PsyD Jul 22 '17 at 16:45
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    ... But if they ask about a specialized resource--that would likely help others in addition to the OP--and which we do not cover in What good reference works on English are available?, then that would be an acceptable resource question for EL&U Meta. Is that correct? – Mark D Worthen PsyD Jul 22 '17 at 16:45
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    @MarkDWorthenPsyD Correct. And then we'll add that to our list. – NVZ Jul 23 '17 at 5:13
  • Good question and answer, but item 2 is confusing. What kind of resource would be helpful only to the OP and nobody else? Can you think of an example? Or are you distinguishing specific issue requests from asking something so general that the answer is directions to the public library? – fixer1234 Jul 24 '17 at 1:49
  • @fixer1234 I've no examples for any of these from the top of my head. But we'll see which is which when we get new requests. – NVZ Jul 24 '17 at 2:14
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Requests for resources that help the community in doing research for better questions and answers should be on-topic on ELU meta.

This actually goes against our established SE policy that meta should be for questions about the main site, but let's make an exception here. We have a user base that are experts in the language, and who else would know about these resources, if not us? If these resources help the main site have better questions and answers, I am all for it.

I mean, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

I do not see this as anything other than a win/win situation. We learn about new resources; the questioner gets what they wanted; our list of resources stays maintained; the main website remains free of clutter.

Moreover, I see no harm done: Resource requests only ever come by very rarely so migrating these questions to meta and answering them here poses no major problems, and only regular visitors of the website read meta, so the tolerances can be much higher here. It seems especially harmless because reputation is not earned on meta, meaning that the behavior is not incentivized.

However, A Certain Course of Action Should be Kept in Mind:

We should refrain from telling people on the main site that these requests are answered here. Regular members of the website should know better than that. First, we should see if our existing list of resources already covers it first.

If it does, just close the question on main, and just guide the questioner to our list instead. It should only be migrated if we do not have an existing category in the thread for the resource request for us to help establish a list of resources for consideration.

Whatever then happens to OP’s question after we are done compiling the resources is unimportant. Keep it, close it, delete it, send it to heck, send it into a black hole, erase it from existence and replace its empty husk of a shell with a torch for all I care. Its already fulfilled its purpose by that point.

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    +1. I think any readout which would help someone learn or use English better should be welcome here. It's a fairly common, though not universal, pattern on Metas. We may not know the answers every time, but the questions are legit. And we don't get so many of them, I don't think we create a risk of drowning in noise. – Dan Bron Jul 23 '17 at 9:15
  • If someone would edit this and formulate this in better words without losing the idea in it, I'd appreciate that very much. I'm not finding the best way to organise this answer. It looks like a mess. – NVZ Aug 2 '17 at 19:31
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    @NVZ Despite my disagreement, I have written a revision for your consideration. I'm not applying a direct edit because I wrote a competing answer, and I don't want to personally run the risk of earning votes against your answer for something you have not directly reviewed, authorized and applied yourself. Also, regarding a more conservative suggestion, I don't think note 1, note 2, or note 3 serve any purpose that the post revision history seems to serves the same purpose. – Tonepoet Aug 2 '17 at 20:47
  • @Tonepoet Thanks a million. I often lack the right words to express my thoughts. Not a native speaker. :) – NVZ Aug 2 '17 at 20:59
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    If you didn't keep telling us you weren't a native speaker, we'd forget. :) – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Aug 8 '17 at 21:46
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As a known lexicophile, a lover of lexicons, I do hate to be a party pooper since learning about new resources is actually of interest to me, but staff decisions override any community decisions and most other forms of authority, so this really must be mentioned. A while ago in chat a link was provided to this post on Meta-S.E. by Robert Cartaino, who is the Director of Community Development for Stack Exchange. The most relevant portion of the post is this:

administrative note:

I'm seeing these list-of-resource questions being posted in meta as a way to somehow allow questions that would otherwise not be allowed on the main site. Meta is meant to provide support for the operation of this site and we cannot let it morph into an alternative type of subject Q&A.


This is obviously predicated on the fact that everything that is not directly related to website policies, or the S.E. software, as defined in the help center is off-topic:enter image description here


Strictly speaking, this edict was only mentioned on Latin S.E's. website, so perhaps it can be interpreted as only being a binding ruling on their website, but the message comes with the strong implication of applying to the entire S.E. network. If it is binding on the whole of S.E., the corollary effect is that since we locally banned them on the main site, most resource topics may not be posted anywhere on English Language & Usage with the existing policies, including the Meta website.

I am not exactly sure how broad Robert meant to be with this edict, but it seems to me that we simply can't have these topics on meta, unless maybe we have some sort of excuse that gives it a relationship with English Language & Usage's policy or software.

Our most popular resource topic on meta is probably safe presumably being used to help define what kind of "commonly available resources" are off-topic in this custom close reason:

Please include the research you’ve done, or consider if your question suits our English Language Learners site better. Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic.


If that is really the case, I have some objections to some of the resources listed there as being "commonly available", since they aren't available anywhere online, but that is besides the point. The point is to note that the question itself is somehow related to one of our policies, so maybe it is permitted. [Sidebar: I say "maybe" because I am not exactly sure if he meant that to serve as a qualifier, or if the the broader context of the Latin S.E. subject makes it a general prohibition against all such topics. We should probably seek guidance on that matter.]

Otherwise we must stop making resource request questions on meta, or migrating them to it because it has a reserved purpose that they do not fulfill.

However, I would also like to mention that we are not currently stuck without an alternative. With all of the options presently available to us, it is worth note that there is a relatively new Language Learning website which expressly allows for resource requests in its help center at this present point in time.. Keeping in mind the standing restrictions we have here, I would propose we asking such questions there in the future, using their resource request tag, as well as redirecting newbies who ask them here to that website.

Otherwise, instead of writing new resource-requests questions on meta, I propose we add new subjects as needed to the existing list. This has three benefits:

  1. Everything is centralized, so if it is deemed off topic, it is easier to dispose of one thread, rather than many, preferably with a historical lock.

  2. Everything is centralized, so it is easier to locate. Using the share link under the individual answers which categorize topics can be used to direct people to more specific resources, and linking to the thread generally exposes them to other resources they might find available.

  3. Last but not least, it is arguably related to policy, and arguably allowed.

  • It's all good information. But I have already in my answer said that we will update our list of resources with whatever new information we get from new requests. And therefore any future requests for the same resource will be closed. – NVZ Aug 2 '17 at 15:43
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    Also, it's once in a blue moon or even rarer that we get any resource requests at all. So I do not think it's a good strategy to send the OPs to another planet. Give them what they came asking for (by migrating it to meta because we don't want anyone gaining rep from that or thinking that it's on-topic on ELU) and then update our list to have it for posterity. Whatever is then done to the OP's resource request doesn't matter. Delete it, or erase it from our dimension - doesn't matter. It's a win-win. – NVZ Aug 2 '17 at 15:47
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    @NVZ We've gotten many resource requests, but they have a tendency to be deleted swiftly. I've seen a few of threads were migrated here recently, only to be closed. Also, this is mostly promoted by RaceYouAnyTime's citing this question as the basis for the most recent migration. Anyway, sending them off to another planet would be sending them off of the S.E. network entirely. This is more like seeking asylum in a nearby country because the present regime is shall we say, too strict? Regardless, I don't see how it's worse than migration to E.L.L. or Writer's S.E.. – Tonepoet Aug 2 '17 at 16:05
  • I've also updated my answer. It's a mess now.. come to think of it. – NVZ Aug 2 '17 at 16:16

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