To me this would seem on topic (as long as they're books on topics to do with the great outdoors of course.) I have however had questions closed for this reason on SO before, so wanted to check - what do people think?

I'm editing this question and bringing it to the fore because it is 5 years old and the people who answered it are no longer active on the site. The current active users should have a chance to weigh in.

4 Answers 4


Of course it's going to be OK. Would you ask people to not recommend or discuss their experiences with courses, books, and teachers when they want to learn about outdoor activities?

Yes - there will always be bad questions that get closed. Vague, overly broad, underly specific, as well as narrow and isolated questions where no other person would ever need to have the same question answered that the moderators will close if they cannot be edited into shape.

The likelihood that many people may be inclined to ask the exact same question means we only need to watch and perhaps later, have a section in the FAQ once we detect a pattern to the bad questions. Worrying too much about something that hasn't happened yet is something that probably can be skipped at this point.

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    +1 Agree - although what would be more useful is have a list of recommended books per "appropriate" tag.
    – Aim Kai
    Feb 2, 2012 at 16:55
  • Good idea - they would work well in the tag wiki for activity specific books ( say mountaineering or scuba-diving ) - also see my meta question meta.outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/116/…
    – bmike
    Feb 2, 2012 at 17:54

My instinctive opinion is "yes! I like books, bring it on."

On reflection, however, I think book recommendations would be subjective and so not approriate for a Stack Exchange Q&A, see Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

Book recommendations would also be "too localised", new books are published all the time, say we had a book recommendation question with lots of answers. One day someone writes the canonical, best book on the subject ever. Would people find it to vote it up if it was on the second page of a long list of previous recommendations?

Also, do we really want to tell people to go and read a book instead of participating in our site? :-)

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    Arg.. it dumped my comment. Okay short version: This entire site is off the left side of that graph for subjectivity and book quality is no more subjective than what gear to carry in "X" situation or how dangerous wolves are or... Point being that outdoors advice is not science. However outdoors craft is a topic that greatly benefits from this sort of community system where it's important to be able to get opinions from experts who have done things. Feb 3, 2012 at 14:36

This site is almost perfect for certain types of book recommendations. If I am looking for a trails book, I'm much more inclined to get the one that has 40 upvotes than the one which has two.

I would say that I'd prefer that there only be one book per answer on that type of question.

  • This is a great point - would having a FAQ section preempt some great single topic questions? I'd hope both could exist on the site.
    – bmike
    Feb 3, 2012 at 21:09
  • -1 The book with 40 votes could be a popular book. The book with 2 votes could be much better but only just published and not had time to garner votes. Voting doesn't work for book recommendations.
    – Graham
    Feb 4, 2012 at 9:42
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    @Graham -- How is that different from anything else? An answer on how to do "insert outdoors thing" could just be whatever 40 people think is best, but the actual best answer could get only 2 votes. That's an inherent downside of "correct by popular vote" not of book questions specifically. Feb 4, 2012 at 18:07
  • @RussellSteen because books are published at different times. Book recommendations would be "localised" in time.
    – Graham
    Feb 4, 2012 at 18:25
  • @Graham -- An example of a question that is just like a book recommendation, only about a product. outdoors.stackexchange.com/questions/918/…. Everything is localized in time to some degree. Advice on technology is only good until the technology changes. Good outdoors books have a longer shelflife than your average programming language which I hear there is an entire SE site dedicated to. Feb 5, 2012 at 20:30

Here how it stands right now,

Book recommendation questions that were considered on topic and good questions.

Questions that were closed

And one that was turned into a community wiki

Personally, I think that book recommendations are on topic, but they need to be specific to a situation.

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