This answer contains the discussion in the comments to the question that sparked this discussion, which was originally posted at the (now defunct) Theoretical Physics site. I have moved them here because they belong to this discussion more than they do to that question. Comment vote counts, at the time of transfer, are in brackets.
Requests to find a PDF or print copy of a paper when the exact citation information is already known are off topic. – David Z♦ Jul 1 at 20:11. (1)
...apparently custom close reasons get posted as comments. Anyway, we've generally held "find me a PDF" and similar requests to be off topic, but that could be opened up for discussion, if people think questions like this should be on topic. – David Z♦ Jul 1 at 20:15
@DavidZaslavsky I have to disagree, strongly, for this case. This paper is outstandingly hard to find in either print or electronic copies and it was only through this question that I found one (unlike many people that cite it (!), I suspect). While I would generally think "find me a pdf" questions to be off-topic, some such requests can, would and do require an in-depth knowledge of the physics literature, and there are very precious few places on the internet to find physicists that can answer them. – Emilio Pisanty Jul 2 at 0:12. (4)
While it is not usually used as a criterion on this site, I often find MathOverflow's criterion "would I ask this at a seminar?" to also work well here. In this case, my answer would be an emphatic yes: if I really need a paper, have looked for ages and can't find it, and really need a physicist to point out alternatives, a physics seminar is about the first place I'd ask. (I did.) – Emilio Pisanty Jul 2 at 0:18. (3)
If this site disallows questions like that then it risks failing people who put in effort to write answers when they have a question, and we really should be moving in the opposite direction to that, fostering high-quality questions and keeping our good users. – Emilio Pisanty Jul 2 at 0:22. (3)
@Emilio (3 comments up) yeah, I was thinking along the same lines myself. If we want to allow some questions of this sort, we (the community) can work out a guideline for what is allowed and what isn't. But as of now, that guideline, which would presumably allow this particular question, isn't in place. – David Z♦ Jul 2 at 0:54. (1)
I have asked the relevant question on meta. – Emilio Pisanty Jul 2 at 14:42. (2)