# Question 6157: 'List of freely available physics books' — A broken window that we should fix

Question 6157 is a broken window:

List of freely available physics books

Were it asked today, it should get closed as Not a Real Question.

It's being used to justify the asking of other bad open-ended questions :

Question marked as inappropriate and closed

How should we fix this broken window?

• I have deleted some comments, they really belong in the answers or not at all. – Manishearth Apr 5 '13 at 7:17
• Just a sidenote, "broken windows" is nowadays strongly criticized in social sciences and psychology. It's a nice metaphor, but it's often used to legitimize zero-tolerance policies, and has no basis in data. – jdm Apr 6 '13 at 10:20

No, I absolutely disagree with both, EnergyNumbers question and his answer and the from MSO imported term "broken window" he uses.

The limited number of such big list questions about important study material for students and researchers should just be well curated, since the site is intended to be useful for students and researchers (according to what is written in the About) who need to learn things and often have to familiarize themself with new topics in the course of their live as active and flexible researchers.

Questions on spezialized and/or well defined by the targetted level or otherwise localized study material (including books if needed), such as about twistors or other minor subjects such as this for example, for which not a large pedagogical literature and tons of books exist (as it is the case about broad topics such as statistical physics, quantum mechanics, qlassical mechanics, etc) exists, should be allowed and tolerated as it has always been the case until the end of 2012. Such well defined requests for study material are neither bad (their answer is helpful for many peopl) nor open-ended as EnergyNumbers claimes, since there simply to not exist that many books / turorials / lecture notes / introductions on Arxiv etc, that fit as answer to a well localized question.

The only issue (in fact a non-issue!) is, that somebody should take care of adding the new specialized questions about such study material to the corresponding lists, such that things are systematically ordered and well organized. Apart from this, there is absolutely nothig to "fix". I could curate and regularly update the lists of study material and I would do it if it helps.

• I agree with Dilaton, these lists are very, very useful. I don't really see the point of spreading all the references in different tag wikis. – DaniH Apr 6 '13 at 11:35

Are the tag wikis accessible via a search engine? Because as of now, I imagine there are plenty of people who find the answer to this question after googling it or whatever. So if you put it into a tag wiki and it isn't easily findable that seems to defeat the purpose.

In that case, you could just lock the question, but still keep it there.

• Very interesting question. And one for which I don't know the answer. – dmckee Apr 10 '13 at 17:37
• Googling "newtonian mechanics tag wiki" gives the tag wiki as the first result, so it is accessible. Googling "newtonian mechanics" doesn't have a single result from physics.SE in the first page. The tag wikis just need to increase their "score" in the search engines, so they appear as first results more often. – becko Apr 11 '13 at 15:06
• I just don't think that simply locking the question is a solution, because then regular users can't contribute to it. – becko Apr 11 '13 at 15:07

I propose that that question List of freely available physics books be closed and locked; and that we move the answers' contents to a tag wiki, after which the question should be deleted.

• I've felt this way for a long time, but there always seemed to be a consensus in favor of a few well curated list questions. Perhaps that has changed? – dmckee Apr 4 '13 at 21:48
• As far as I'm aware, it has always been the plan to eventually move the answers of all those book recs to tag wikis. I've just been too busy to actually do it. But given the increased attention to these sorts of questions lately, maybe I'll make a push to handle this question. – David Z Apr 4 '13 at 23:40
• Update: that is a very large list. I promise to work on transferring it to tag wikis as I have time; of course anyone else is also welcome to help. We can coordinate in Physics Chat. – David Z Apr 5 '13 at 16:14
• Please don't close or lock the question! It will quickly become outdated. Putting the list into a tag wiki isn't better - those pages are extremely hard to find, and not everyone can edit them, so it will become outdated to. I see so harm in just leaving it as is. – jdm Apr 6 '13 at 10:12
• @DavidZaslavsky I agree with jdm. Closing the question will surely make it outdated. Is it worth it? As dmckee said, there used to be a consensus towards maintaining a few useful list questions. Are we sure that this consensus is no more? – becko Apr 7 '13 at 0:30
• @jdm the harm in leaving it as it is was made very clear by the question. In any case, this information doesn't become outdated very quickly, which is the whole reason we were willing to give book recommendations a chance in the first place. (As opposed to shopping recommendations.) But now the tag wikis exist, and they are the proper place for that sort of information. Anyone can suggest edits to them, just like posts, and we can always link to them from the comments on any future recommendation questions. – David Z Apr 7 '13 at 1:27
• @DavidZaslavsky Can you tell me which tag wiki is planned to hold the contents of this question? The tags of the question are empty. If you want to move the contents of the question to tag wikis, perhaps someone should say so in the question itself, so that other people coming to the question can learn about what is needed and can help. – becko Apr 8 '13 at 23:23
• @DavidZaslavsky Since the question is locked, I think only a mod (a.k.a you) can edit it. Perhaps you should edit it with instructions on which tag wikis will hold the contents of the questions, so other users can help in the reorganization. – becko Apr 8 '13 at 23:26
• @becko That question covers a whole range of different topics, so its information will be split among several tag wikis. Basically, just add each link to whatever tag wiki(s) correspond to its topic. I put the first link in the general-physics and newtonian-mechanics (IIRC) wikis to serve as an example, but then I got busy so I haven't gotten to any others. I will consider editing a notice into that question though, thanks for the idea. (I might have to unlock, edit, and relock it.) – David Z Apr 8 '13 at 23:36
• (and by "consider" I mean I'll do it soon, when I can devote some more attention to this) – David Z Apr 8 '13 at 23:39

The question is indeed broken. It's locked, so we can't add new books. Also we can't vote on them. How to fix it: