I've noticed that some people (Matthieu), even mods such (Mark Trapp) keep adding the text 'Is there a canonical book on..' on many book related questions. Sometimes fundamentally changing the question that was originally asked. Sometimes the person asking the question justs want a list of resources to follow in reading, not one particular volume that he must read and which is considered canonical.

Also this is highly subjective, one person's answer to what is canonical may differ wildly to another's.

Is there any good reason for these edits?

If we are searching for a canonical text on any given subject shouldn't there just be one community wiki question with all others closed as exact duplicates? I can't understand why these words keep being added to these questions.

and on and on...

  • This isn't an exact duplicate, but I think your question is answered here: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/2665/… Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 14:03
  • Lists are even less subjective than asking for a canonical reference. At least with asking for a canonical reference, you have the chance of it being constructive if the majority of the target audience agrees that a book is the canonical reference (e.g. Design Patterns, GOF).
    – casperOne
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 15:17

2 Answers 2


Asking for the creation of a list or a poll of "best of" things is not appropriate on any Stack Exchange site. Some think that questions about asking for a book that covers a very niche area or is the defining book for some field is allowed - a stance that I used to have. However, I now feel that resource lists should be included on a tag's tag wiki page so that you can find books, websites, podcasts, and other top-notch or "must read" publications about a particular topic.

  • 2
    That would be a good project, moving these lists into the wiki for that tag. The question could then be closed.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 14:16
  • @ChrisF I'm not sure where I suggested it, but I proposed that tag wikis become part of a structured tag clean up (along with removing bad tags). In the structured clean up request call, someone might propose a good tag that has bad questions and/or a bad wiki (and denote this), and if people think it's important, it would be voted up (or voted down if it's really not important at all). If that tag was selected, going through questions and pulling out awesome information that's not unique to a situation would happen.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 14:19
  • questions are more visible then tag wikis though, for the frequent, educated user it wouldn't matter much, but the questions stick around and can show up on Google searches. that could be part of the reason for sticking with the canonical book questions rather than adding them to tag wikis.
    – Ryathal
    Commented Feb 3, 2012 at 19:50

book suggestions are only allowed for canonical books on a topic, this is done because book questions aren't the goal of programmers and having questions that encourage lists/discussion results in closing questions.

book questions are allowed to exist because they are a nice resource to point to but also need to be restricted or they become a pile of crap.

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