One of the things that bother me the most about book* recommendation requests is the endless stream of similar requests that can spout around any specific topic, for all the different possible reader levels and prerequisites.
"I'm an undergrad and I want to learn QM" says someone. "Me too, but can you keep it to minimal functional analysis?" says someone else. "Actually, can you cut down on the linear algebra?" and "I haven't taken analytical mechanics, so could you go easy on the hamiltonians and lagrangians?" say two more people...
...and on and on it goes. It is completely impractical to have a new thread for each such request: we should have a single, canonical book-recommendation thread for, say, ~undergraduate quantum mechanics, and close all the requests in the paragraph above as duplicates of the main thread. I see this as absolutely necessary to avoid the quality dilution and the clutter that would come otherwise, and which led us to ban the tag to begin with.
However, it is unfair on people coming to this site for book recommendations to give them no voice regarding what level of books are present in the answers to the canonical thread. If I do find the main thread and find it to be full of books that need no functional analysis, but I can't handle the linear algebra in them, I should still be able to invite answers at that level.
I understand I'm a little late to the game, but I was busy working on other policy for the site. (And, you know, my PhD.) I nevertheless would like to propose a change in how the recently adopted policy works on the question side of the affair. (The answer side is, on the other hand, well dealt with, I think.)
I propose we keep a single thread per topic, and that the specific requests of level be included as edits and comments to the answer.
Thus, in this scheme all the requests above would be merged into a single thread which would be formatted along the following lines
Good undergraduate quantum mechanics books
What are good books or online resources to learn quantum mechanics at an undergraduate level?
Level of resources
If you are looking for resources in this topic but you find the answers in this page too advanced or too basic, add a request in this list.
- Are there good books that use minimal functional analysis?
- I'd like resources with very little linear algebra.
- What are books with little resource to lagrangians and hamiltonians? My analytical mechanics is a little shaky.
This proposal does require additional curatorial attention, in deleting parts of the resource-level list as they get addressed and newer requests are added. However, I feel that this is quite small in comparison with the bulk of work of curating the answers. It provides input to the people who have very specific requests, while keeping the answers condensed into one big resource that's useful for future visitors, instead of scattered into lots of small, specific lists.
Finally, as I have argued elsewhere, policy changes are only half policy changes if they don't come with a documentation proposal. Thus, this change could come with the following paragraph added to the policy.
How do I ask a resource recommendation question?
First of all, search the site to see if the topic has been asked before. Adding the tag
[books]to your search may be useful. If the topic has not been covered, start a new question. Keep it general! We want questions and answers to be useful for future visitors. Ask for a specific topic. If you have a specific level or set of prerequisites that you'd like answers to address, add it, separately, at the end of the question.
If the topic has been covered, don't ask a new question! If the resources in that thread are too advanced or too basic for you, or you have some specific set of prerequisites that the current answers don't address, edit the current question to request it. Add your request to the list provided, or start one like the one in this question.
What say ye?
*To appease the purists, throughout this post "book recommendation" should be understood to mean "resource recommendation".