There are a couple of resource requests that were recently migrated to ELU Meta (e.g Is there an online speech comparison programme, What are some good and authoritative reference/data source for modern usage examples of words?). These questions aren't actually about the site; they're about the subject matter. I don't see any reason why they should be on ELU Meta rather than the main site. New people will not know to look for them here. If we want to continue treating them as off-topic for the main site, that's fine (although I think we should add an explanation of this to the Help Center and the tag). However, I don't see any way they are on-topic for the Meta site. So they should just be closed, not migrated.

A relevant answer by Robert Carantino to a Latin SE Meta question: Should we make a canonical “resources” question?

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    I've wondered about it, but perhaps one reason is that providing resource suggestions is about how to use the site: at least where to do your own research before asking a question. – Andrew Leach Sep 11 '16 at 22:26
  • An argument could be made for resource questions to go in either place. It is just a historical choice that that argument went for meta. To make them easier to find out of all the meta questions, they should be given the tag 'faq'. – Mitch Sep 12 '16 at 0:08
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    Here's a suggestion: how about making a canonical stub on Main for resource requests? It can be closed and locked, and simply point to the canonical Meta resource question. This way, it's searchable on Main but avoids duplication. – Lawrence Sep 12 '16 at 6:39
  • @Mitch There are nine questions tagged [faq] and the first one is the list of reference works. – Andrew Leach Sep 12 '16 at 11:50
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    @AndrewLeach: It does make some sense to me that a question like the following would be on Meta: What good reference works on English are available? It makes less sense in my opinion to use Meta for requests that are more specialized or that ask about resources that are not commonly available. – sumelic Sep 12 '16 at 15:19
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    The short answer is "resource requests" have no definitive, right, or even better answer. They're off-topic on Main for the same reason all list-requests are off-topic on main: they ultimately devolve into popularity contests. They're kept on-topic at Meta because they're useful but can't be discussed on Main. – Dan Bron Sep 12 '16 at 16:32
  • @DanBron: That seems to be the kind of reasoning that Robert Carantino criticizes. From what I understand, list questions are not inherently off-topic for Stack Exchange sites. Only some kinds are, if they are, as you say, at risk of "devolv[ing] into popularity contests." If they are at risk of this happening, then they are not actually useful contributions to the goals of this site, and they shouldn't be discussed anywhere, on main or on Meta. – sumelic Sep 13 '16 at 0:22
  • @suməlic Meta is specifically intended for more discussion- and opinion-oriented posts; this is where we generate consensus around ideas. Resources collections and other topic-relevant popularity contests fit nicely within that framework. This is a fairly common pattern across several SE sites I'm familiar with. But whether or not they're on-topic on Meta (clearly, my position is that they are), they're incontrovertibly off-topic on the Main site. – Dan Bron Sep 14 '16 at 16:36
  • To avoid a protracted debate over whether or not to include resources resources in meta, I'd suggest that a separate 'Resources' section be set up to replace the 'resources' subset of Meta. The inclusion of 'resources' questions in ELU could be considered by some to license everything from 'Is ACGEL better than CGEL in any respects?' via 'Can someone please tell me what the actual wording of the third paragraph on page 103 of the English edition is?' to 'What was the dog called in the 'Famous Five' series? – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 8:29
  • And as Dan Bron wisely points out, there would doubtless be a popularity- rather than quality-biased bunfight as to the views of which resources (grammars as well as style guides) should be accepted. Even at the present time, arrogations are made, unaccompanied by the caveat 'according to the views of Jespersen, Svartvik and Aarts' etc. University theses quoting merely supporting evidence for one side of an argument would be thrown out. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 16 '16 at 8:37

tl;dr It was the simplest way to take the questions off Main.

I've wondered about it, but perhaps one reason is that providing resource suggestions is about how to use the site: at least where to do your own research before asking a question. – Andrew Leach♦

I didn't find any reasons on ELU Meta for resources to be on-topic there. I also looked briefly at Stack Overflow for precedents (their analogue is the recommendation question) but didn't see any reasons there either. Since it appears that even Andrew Leach doesn't know, I'll assume there is no canonical answer, and present some speculations and suggestions of my own.

When considering recommendation questions on SO, Shog9 identifies the problem of providing canonical answers to questions that don't ask about how to solve a specific problem. Elsewhere, Robert Harvey notes that "we don't accept questions of this type on any Stack Exchange site".

This tells us why resource requests should not be hosted on Main. However, the resources elicited are useful and interesting, so it is natural to want to keep them. I speculate that they have been migrated to Meta because it was the simplest way to take them off Main. I further speculate that because there aren't all that many canonical resources to list, having a small number of off-topic posts on Main or Meta (both, actually) has simply been tolerated. They are useful, and they don't really get in the way most of the time.

Nevertheless, I agree with your view that resource requests are off-topic on Meta. The question is what to do with them, since I don't think the community is seriously considering just deleting them.

Of the four spaces available to ELU: Main, Meta, Blog and Chat, the Blog is the only repository of filtered ELU wisdom. I propose that resource suggestions be discussed in Chat and on Meta, but eventually collated on the Blog and referenced from the help pages. The existing Main and Meta questions can either be retained for their historical value or replaced with stubs. Either way, those questions should be edited to reference the blog(s) either directly or via the relevant help page.

In the unlikely event that the list of recommendations (the 'answers' part) grows beyond casual pruning and additions, we can consider launching our own version of SO's Software Recommendations.


Resources are on-topic for Meta.ELU.

They're usually tagged (like this question).

See the questions at What Good Reference Works On English Are Available.

Many of these are considered community wiki, so that every one can add to a more formal answer.


Yes, please update the help center!

In the comments to this question which was migrated to meta the OP correctly noted:

When I typed "Where can I find a list ..." many other questions appeared in this format that were not closed. After reading the rules, I didn't see anything discouraging a user from asking for data, so I decided to post. – Trevor Hickey 2 days ago


This indicates that we have a clear gap between what we describe as on-topic and what we judge to be on-topic. There does not seem to be a rule against list requests and yet the community voting including a moderator vote migrated the question to meta. This is doubly bad since the OP actually checked all our resources about on-topic-ness and still felt like it was fitting.

I don't think that one should have to google your way through meta.ELU to find out if a question is on-topic after having found nothing to the contrary in the help center.

So we should do two things.

  1. Add a help center section about off-topic-ness of resource requests.
  2. Consequently close and/or historically lock those requests that do exist on the main site.

I like Lawrence's idea of a stub that points to meta. Just fill it with all the words people might search for. Make it Community Wiki, lock it and add a stern warning not to post similar requests on the main site.

The people who post these request don't look at either the help center or meta. Thus, the rules or the existing posts on meta do not help. I cannot guess how many did search the main site, but searching forums or Q&A sites has more general applicability than SE specific things like meta and the help center.

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    I'm wondering, why point to Meta at all? Meta is for information about how the site works, as well as community discussions and other things that aren't really Q&A but are related to this site. Most people asking for resources aren't interested in learning about this site, or discussing this site. – sumelic Sep 12 '16 at 15:16
  • @suməlic I agree it could be on the main site as well. As Mitch put it, the resource requests lost that battle a long time ago. – Helmar Sep 13 '16 at 7:38

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