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For example, I want to ask a question about an up to date trade offs comparison on all of the known database implementations (or as many as I can get my greedy hands on) and I'm trying to find a home for my question on Stack Exchange. I know that this question is not correct for stackoverflow and so this was my next stop.

But beyond that specific example, would this be the right place to come with questions that have to do with finding material that is focused on helping improve a programmer? If it is, does that only mean reading material or would things as broad as cookbooks be allowed?

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The best place to ask for book recommendations is Programmers Chat as far as general programming stuff goes.

Specific the Database question, you might try Database Administrators' chat room or reading over the general site to see what's there.

General recommendation questions are off-topic on all sites network wide.

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