We currently have a system where there are a bunch of canonical resource request questions linked here, which theoretically cover all the bases; then theoretically almost all questions can be closed as duplicates of them. The problem is that sometimes the scope of the question or the scope of the answers doesn't live up to that standard.

For example, this question is our canonical resource request question for particle physics and the Standard Model, which is hugely important. The OP said they didn't have much background, so all of the answers gave texts appropriate for early-stage undergraduates. At least five other questions at a wide variety of levels were closed in favor of that one. I think it's a bad move to close a question where the OP wants a book that assumes QFT knowledge (e.g. here) as a duplicate of a question where the OP needs a book that carefully avoids going into QFT at all.

In this case I put a bounty on the question, edited it to be more ambiguous about level, and AccidentalFourierTransform came through with an excellent answer, but there are still many questions in bad shape relative to their 'close as duplicate' scope, such as

  • this one on cosmology (asked by a 14 year old)
  • this one on conformal field theory (requesting a low level)
  • this one on quantum information (requesting 'foundations', but which has as duplicates questions about quantum computation, and the AMO physics of building quantum computers)

Note that if you check these questions, they don't sound narrow anymore, because I've edited them.

I invite anybody else who cares about the state of our book recommendations to join me in fixing types of questions up; I can only put up so many bounties at once, and the scope of my knowledge isn't nearly broad enough to fix up every question this way.

  • $\begingroup$ I'm unsure what type of actions your proposed improvement programme actually entails - it would probably be helpful if you could elaborate on that. $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2018 at 13:30
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    $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty My policy prescription would be something like "If you're about to vote to close a resource request question as a duplicate, check that the proposed duplicate has a sufficiently wide scope. If not, please edit it to broaden the scope, add an answer with wider scope, or don't vote to close in the first place." $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 15, 2018 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ But is the problem the ongoing closure of new questions, or the fact that there are existing closures pointing to duplicates of insufficient scope? $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2018 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I would personally be happiest with the old questions un-closed, but that seems rather difficult to pull off. Plus, there would be more questions that way and I'd have to spend more bounty rep! $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 15, 2018 at 13:40
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I edited a bunch of questions and put in a wave of reopen requests. $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 15, 2018 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Sure. My point is: what are you suggesting that people do? $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2018 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty If you're sympathetic to the cause, you can go around editing questions for scope, answering broad-scope questions that have only narrow-scope answers, bountying them, etc. My general impression is that the status of the resource-request questions in your subfield could be much improved! $\endgroup$
    – knzhou
    Jan 15, 2018 at 13:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you very much for your effort. $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2018 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ A question that requires some fixing is What is a complete book for quantum field theory?. I'd do it myself but I'm not quite sure how to reword it to make it broad enough to include the duplicates, but specific enough to be on-topic. If you (or anyone else) feels they can fix it, please edit it. Thanks! (For the record, I brought that post up in meta (cf. here) but only E.P. said something. It would be great if more people would add their opinion...) $\endgroup$ Jan 16, 2018 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty,.@AccidentalFourierTransform Why don't we create a page like " Resources for learning Physics" as done here on Chemistry.SE? $\endgroup$ Jan 23, 2018 at 3:12
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    $\begingroup$ @ApoorvPotnis You mean something like this page or this one? $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2018 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty I mean something like the second link. Why is it closed? I think it surely is constructive. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2018 at 12:16


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