There are some questions about online resources, on EL&U, such as:

There are some more few questions that have been first closed, and then deleted.

The main problem I see with those questions is that every answer is equally valid. The other problem I see is that those questions becomes a list of resources without a small description that would allow the readers to choose the resource that better suits them. In this case, I don't see how those lists are useful. I could google, obtain a list of online resources, and that list would be equally valid.

Would not it be better to add an entry for questions about online resources in the FAQ? It would not stop users from asking that type of questions (or at least, that would not be the immediate effect), but at least there would be a place where those questions are declared off-topic. Users now see questions about online resources, ask a similar question, and then wonder why their question has been closed; if the FAQ would explicitly say they are off-topic, maybe users would understand they should not ask such questions.

2 Answers 2


Yes, we should add some of this stuff to the FAQ, and moderators can do so. But what exactly to add?

See Should we link to resources for learning English in order to prevent scope-creep? and What resources should we link to in the FAQ for learning English?

  • 1
    I was referring to the fact those questions are off-topic.
    – apaderno
    Dec 6, 2011 at 23:04

No, the FAQ should not have an entry about [barring] online resources.

I must say I disagree with all the logic in the argument above.

The main problem I see with those questions is that every answer is equally valid.

This is not true. Are you saying that the moderators here personally have read every single resource in all of these answers of these questions and that you are qualified to judge whether or not they are appropriate? I am sure that the only the person qualified to decide if they are 'equally valid' is the person who asked the question to begin with. His or her answer selection would be based on a variety of factors including background, language capability, education level, overall goals, which, if they were expressed well enough through the question, it would indeed lead to one and only one answer being the best regardless of how long the list.

I could google, obtain a list of online resources, and that list would be equally valid.

This logic is not true for at least two reasons.

First, this can be said of every single question here in the EL&U site. I could take the context of any of these questions, Google it, and in true Google fashion, get back 1,302,423,422 results in 0.13 seconds.

Secondly, let's say, for example, I am having trouble understanding some of the language in Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury. A quick Google search of “Understanding Faulkner Sound and Fury” yields 879,000 results (0.25 seconds). Most of the ones in my result set are about buying the book, which I consider completely invalid.

Are you telling me that on a website dedicated to the in depth understanding of English language through Q and A that at least one one of the members is not going to be an authority on Faulkner, perhaps having devoted their lives to specializing in his literature, and you want to suggest that those 879,000 Google results are equally valid to what this expert's qualifications could suggest?

Again, I disagree. In my opinion, this is way too presumptuous. In fact in my results above most of those links want me to buy the book. Searching for an explanation of a particular passage from the book, Google becomes even more useless.

I believe that questions like these not only should be allowed but be encouraged as this is one of the reasons we use this QA site to begin with – Google, or whatever resources we tried before coming here, failed, and we want to search a more niche community for the expertise to help us better understand the complexities of the English language and it's usage.

I thought that I would close this answer by pointing out a few questions that should be closed based on the reasoning in the question. I am going to decline. There are just way too many of them. So many 'What's the best word for...' or 'What's a synonym for...' or 'What does this passage mean....' questions I come across are subjective, and indeed the posts are full of 'lists' where any one answer is as correct as another.

But I will close by saying that all resources should be fair game if they help us come away from this site with a better understanding of the English language than before we got here, otherwise, we are defeating the purpose of the reason this site exists to begin with.

  • 2
    Questions asking about books, or online resources are closed as "not constructive" in all the Stack Exchange sites. "Every answer is equally valid" means that everybody can suggest a resource, but none of them would be more correct than others. In other words, the question would just get a list of resources that would need to be updated. What happens when a resource is not anymore available, or new resources are available? Stack Exchange sites are not made for list questions.
    – apaderno
    Oct 25, 2012 at 9:25
  • Then, this question is not about moderators. It is about reporting as off-topic questions that would be otherwise closed as not constructive.
    – apaderno
    Oct 25, 2012 at 9:27

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