As I'm sure anybody who's been frequenting the StackExchange network knows, questions asking for lists of recommendations are nothing new.

Such questions are almost universally shunned, and it's fairly well established that such questions are not a good fit for the site. They do, however, tend to keep showing up.

In our case, it's book recommendations: https://islam.stackexchange.com/questions/1045/what-is-one-single-book-you-would-suggest-to-someone-new-to-islam-or-interested

Now I agree with the general philosophy that such questions are unsuitable for the StackExchange site mechanic, and I voted to close. However, I also realize that the answers to such a question could be of significant value, not only to the poster himself but to any future visitors.

So I'll throw this out to the community: How do we want to handle book recommendation questions? Should we…

  • …just close them as they come up, as it the general practice across the network?

  • …somehow rephrase the question, so it would better fit the site?

  • …community-wiki the question and let the users answer as they wish?

  • …compile a definitive book list (à la this classic SO post) and just point everyone to it?

  • …consider some other option which I can't even think of right now?

  • So what is the final answer 'yes' or 'no'. Now considering it yes, close them all, if I close now, again after some time, if it gets resolved and then becomes OK allow them, then what? Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 9:53
  • It is extremely hard to follow the rules in here, may I know more about this,,, islam.stackexchange.com/questions/9162/… contradicting completely to this post. Explanation is requested and is highly appreciated. Commented Apr 10, 2015 at 11:44

4 Answers 4


I think we should follow what most of the network is doing, and close them as they come up, unless they are extremely popular, highly viewed questions.

If you ask me, book recommendations live and breathe "Not Constructive".

If a book recommendation is extremely popular, I say we then make one definitive list, but we should not rely on that. We will face that barrier when we reach it.

For now, just close every book recommendation you see. They are not welcome on the rest of the network hence they're not welcome here.

  • 3
    Part of the problem is that often not constructive questions are the most popular, highly viewed posts. You can't add that as a disclaimer here and still have an effective rule. Either you let your community slip a few buy because they are popular and then set a bad example for everybody else with popular questions being not good questions -- your you decide it is not in the best interest of your community to have these and instead focus on other kinds of questions. Remember, you will attract what A) what you have and B) what you permit/reward.
    – Caleb
    Commented Sep 16, 2012 at 20:11

Book recommendations are very subjective. It's not a good fit for the site. I've seen through a few SO pages on books. A lot of the recommendations, even the highly upvoted ones are not always the best.

You'd eventually attract experts of the topic to the website, who usually have written books, and book topics often have a lot of bias towards books written by popular members of the community.

That said, they are still useful. Maybe something like an Islamic Book Club chat would be more appropriate.


I'll definitely go for the first option i.e. Close them. It's better to stick to fundamental Q&A i.e. about the subject of Islam, and not Q&A asking for books/recommendations/online sources about/related to the subject of Islam.

Making it a community wiki is a bad idea, because then it will turn into a nuisance. Since currently I see many old and new users find it hard to realize that this site is different. A site which is on the subject of Islam and not Islam SE: Not a Muslim Peer Support Group or a Islamic site. So they might end-up vandalizing the the wiki and it's neutrality. We rather not have them.

The mentioned SO classic was asked in times where they were considered OK. Plus they have been largely debated:

TCS seems to be lenient about this.


I cant decide between the first and the 4th point. I'm more inclined towards the 4th point.

I would suggest we all take efforts and for once and all make a comprehensive list of good books. this would be good because given that we would most probably not need to worry about the book data being updated later on. Its one and final.

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