I agree that users of physics.SE (new and/or old) can't curb their need to ask for resources based on this question (based on the tag), as explained herein. However, many users still ask questions which are duplicate. For example, this thread. So, would it be possible to create a new tag so as to open the Book recommendation FAQ (after necessary edits), so that it could be linked/suggested to users who might ask duplicate questions?

And/Or, can we have a library feature/tab added somewhere at physics.SE which comes to the immediate notice of most users, if not all (i.e., as soon as they open physics.SE w/o login in/signing up, and which should not come off as an ad or notification, but can be viewed all the time)?

Under the library feature/tab, the book FAQ list can be added along with other repositories of physics, such as a/an list/FAQ of legally available lecture notes on the WWW domain which can be deemed off as standard/good, as well as a/an list/FAQ of video lectures on physics from numerous universities (and their video archives). The lists can be maintained by moderators as well as reviewers or those who have one thousand reputation (or above), and it may be able to stop the "abuse" of the tag "resource-recommendation" as well as build a library of sorts for physics.SE which would, in turn, benefit many.

Edit: I also noticed that the Book recommendation FAQ of physics.SE is missing references to discussions on book requests for special relativity. Although I couldn't find many questions asking for books on SR, I found this thread which should be linked in the Book recommendation FAQ (in future after necessary edits, if at all), IMO.

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    $\begingroup$ Changes to the basic interface should be brought up on the mother meta. No one here has the power to do this. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 1:09
  • $\begingroup$ My bad, I was not aware of that. I will make the proposal there ASAP. However, my formal proposition for the creation of a new tag still holds. :) $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 1:16
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    $\begingroup$ You write with too many slashes. ;-) $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 31, 2016 at 7:40
  • $\begingroup$ When you say "abuse" of the resource-recommendations tag, what exactly do you mean? Do you mean behaviour within the current policy which you think shouldn't take place, or posts that break that policy? Either way, what are specific examples of the practice? Otherwise, that's a strong statement unsupported by evidence. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 13:09
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty: When I said abuse, I meant the post (linked above) by the user who made the duplicate post. No, I don't mean the behaviour within the current policy should change. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ Give me a couple of hours. I am at work. I shall explain my stance when I get home. Regards! :) $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ If you mean this question, that's just the system working like it should. Somebody asked a question which was a bad fit for the site and it was closed. The fact that it was closed as a duplicate of a closed question is more indication that the question was bad (but ultimately just an administrative decision to help make the site more internally connected). $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


The question Book recommendations is a historical artifact, from days before recommendation questions were banned (and later on re-allowed), and it is really an experiment that did not work. It really serves no purpose:

Both of those enable many more features than just a static text list, both in terms of sorting (newest / frequent / active / votes / relevance to search terms) and in terms of further search within those lists. The site also has a lot of advanced search options that can help you dig deeper into those results.

The only element that the overarching Book recommendations question offers is curation: some form of guarantee that the questions will be good and represent our top-of-the-line selection. However:

  • We already have a system for sorting the good posts from the bad posts: it's called voting. This is why you can sort search results by their scores.
  • Curation requires an active curator: that is, for an overarching book-recommendations question to actually work, it requires a group of people to actively dedicate their time to maintain it. So far, there is a small number of people who have kept the tag itself in good repair, and none of them have shown any interest in maintaining that question. If that changes, then we could bring it up again, but until it does I don't see the point.

Are you envisioning further functionality than what I addressed above?

The other thing you seem to be proposing is

Under the library feature/tab, the book FAQ list can be added along with other repositories of physics, such as a/an list/FAQ of legally available lecture notes on the WWW domain which can be deemed off as standard/good, as well as a/an list/FAQ of video lectures on physics from numerous universities (and their video archives).

This is not really something that has worked well in our format. We deal well in specifics, but categories like "video lectures on physics" are much broader than what we can address here. We do have a bunch of questions specifically asking for video lectures, and each of those is more specific and therefore works. If you want an overarching list of the content we do have, use that search; if you want content added to the site, ask a (suitably specific) question.


The lists can be maintained by moderators as well as reviewers or those who have one thousand reputation (or above)

suffers from the same problem pointed out above. Recruiting users for this sort of effort has in general proved very hard. If you can show that there's a sizable population of people willing to invest the time into this, then that's a different story - but you need to show it first.

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    $\begingroup$ Incidentally, the reason I gave up on maintaining the master recommendation question was that our restrictions on what recommendation questions we would allow were significantly loosened. When I made the master question in the first place, the intent was that we would have relatively few recommendation questions, few enough to reasonably fit in one answer, and be aggressive about closing others as duplicates. That's no longer the way we want to treat recommendations. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Mar 31, 2016 at 14:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Emilio Pisanty: I agree with all the points you added here, now. Actually, the reason I asked the moderators of physics.SE to create a new tag was because of the reason which you elucidated in this post and comments from you therein, especially this comment. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 17:48
  • $\begingroup$ And I wanted to open the Book recommendations post, because, it is a pretty good list and could have been expanded, in future. Also, a reason was because it is missing references to discussions on book recommendations for SR. So, I was hoping if it could be edited. Also, I have recently been quite active on stack exchange sites, namely physics.SE and know a bit too less about most of the issues, in other words, I am not mature enough. But I was hoping if I could maintain this/these list(s) after gaining enough experience. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 17:56
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    $\begingroup$ "Could have been expanded", yes, but (the desirability of that set aside) who is going to do that? There aren't really signs of a community that will shoulder that burden. That said, if you want to take up the maintenance of that question, go for it - it is closed, not locked, so if you want to add in SR threads you can just do it. (Your edits need to go through review until you hit 2k rep, if they get rejected ping me here and I can have a look.) Keep your edits infrequent and substantial, though: each edit puts that question up top the front page, and we want to minimize that. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty: Thank you. I will keep that in my mind and make amendments ASAP. Regards! :) $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 18:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Janus That's sort of the point: don't do it ASAP, do it right instead. That is, take your time and make sure you get everything in on the first try. But yeah, go for it. $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 18:38

I don't understand what purpose this new tag would serve. We already have to identify resource recommendation requests.

We also have an established procedure for dealing with duplicate questions, namely flagging. (Or voting to close if you have enough reputation.) Overly broad recommendation requests can be closed as duplicates of the master book recommendation question, while others can be closed as duplicates of specific topical recommendation questions.

  • $\begingroup$ BTW, now that we're on the books question, what do you make of these reviews? They're not on the reopen votes review history for either day, and the review link doesn't show any review history. Bizarre. Or is that what the trail of a mod action looks like, maybe? $\endgroup$ Mar 31, 2016 at 18:18
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Huh. I'm not sure why a review would be invalidated; certainly there's no mod power I know of that does that. Perhaps there's some information about this at Meta Stack Exchange, but I'm sure you could do as good a job as I could of finding it. $\endgroup$
    – David Z
    Apr 2, 2016 at 6:15
  • $\begingroup$ The clearest explanation of what an invalidated review is that I've found is this one, which sort of explains why they're not on the review queue history. It's not clear at all why they were invalidated, though - I might ask a dedicated question on mother meta about this later. $\endgroup$ Apr 2, 2016 at 11:02

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