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I saw this question and was surprised that it had up-votes and no close votes.

On every Stack Exchange site I've participated in, questions asking for recommendations are off-topic because they are inherently opinion based.

Are they on topic here?

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That is not a shopping question; that was supposed to be a question on the meta that we could use as a reference for new users. It was migrated by @RobertCartaino without a meta or chat discussion, and we aren't sure why.

  • Good to know. But for a general answer to "should we allow shopping questions" what should we say? I can remove this specific example, but we should have a Meta consensus on the overall question. – David Stratton May 20 '15 at 21:56
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    You can decide collectively if such a canonical question is a good fit for Mythology SE (or otherwise close it), but Meta is a support site for questions about the site itself; it is not a place to ask questions that otherwise would not be allowed in the main Q&A. – Robert Cartaino May 20 '15 at 22:01
  • @RobertCartaino Mythology is an obscure subject, and not many people have read "actual mythology" (as evidenced by the number of questions we get asking about things said in wikipedia articles). The point of the meta question is to encourage those users to read translated versions of the myths, and thus become more acquainted with mythology and ask better questions. The point is not to ask a question that would otherwise be off-topic on the main site. That's why the question is on the meta, and is tagged faq – user62 May 20 '15 at 22:56
  • @RobertCartaino "Meta is a support site for questions about the site itself" -- that's what the question is for: it's there to support new users and help them become more acquainted with the subject matter. It's a resource I've directed several new users to, and I think it will help new users participate in more constructive ways. There is a reason why the question is targeted to "new users" – user62 May 20 '15 at 23:01
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    @Christofian Beginner questions are not off topic. I would not necessarily call this question off topic, but it is not meta. – Robert Cartaino May 20 '15 at 23:03
  • @RobertCartaino I disagree with you for what I think are good reasons: could you take a look at my new answer to this question so you can understand my reasoning? – user62 May 20 '15 at 23:16
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    @Christofian I understand what you were going for, but this site was created to share knowledge with enthusiasts of all levels. Your self-answered post shares a bit of insight and hard-earned experience with beginning enthusiasts. That's all the more reason to share it on main Q&A. There's nothing inherent to an introductory question that makes it unfit for the main site. It is not "meta" to the subject. I'm sorry you do not agree, but putting this on meta as a 'faq' is really pushing the definition of a "frequently asked question" about the site. That is not what meta is for. – Robert Cartaino May 21 '15 at 0:41
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    You might want to have a look at how other sites handle faq questions of this sort. – Shog9 May 22 '15 at 1:11
  • @Shog9 Thanks. FYI the question is still on meta. – durron597 May 22 '15 at 1:29
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In general

On every Stack Exchange site I've participated in, questions asking for recommendations are off-topic because they are inherently opinion based.

There are some sites where exceptions have been made:

These, though, are a bit different from "recommendation" questions on many other Stack Exchange sites. They're asking for scholarly advice about learning things. Admittedly, that doesn't sound too different, in principle. But they can be narrow enough that only a few references are actually valid.

That said, they're controversial and often off-topic, or at least discouraged in many communities. And there are often warning banners attached to questions to help answerers know about the site's policies. Physics has the following (used here, for example):

Before answering, please see our policy on resource recommendation questions. Please write substantial answers that detail the style, content, and prerequisites of the book, paper or other resource. Explain the nature of the resource so that readers can decide which one is best suited for them rather than relying on the opinions of others. Answers containing only a reference to a book or paper will be removed!

I don't think we should have such questions. There's room for subjectivity in the sites I mentioned above, and I think that that's even more the case on Mythology. So I think that we should not have such questions.


This specific case

I think that the questions is far, far, far too broad for a question on Mythology Stack Exchange (excluding meta), and off-topic, because we don't necessarily welcome requests (see the top part of this post). However, I think it's fine for Mythology meta because it's discussing sources - in a way, similar to What are good sources when answering questions?. Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch, but there's a connection there nonetheless.

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That question belongs on meta

I created that question in response to questions like these:

These questions all have one thing in common: they're asking questions about mythology based on something said in a wikipedia article. For example:

On the Wikipage of Mjölnir, it is said to be made by the dwarves Eitri and Brokkr. Wikipedia also states that they created other items for the gods. Those items being: Skidbladnir, the ship of Freyr, Mjölnir, Draupnir and Gungnir.

Wiki Quotes:

"the Sons of Ivaldi are a group of dwarfs who fashion Skidbladnir, the ship of Freyr, and the Gungnir, the spear of Odin, as well as golden hair for Sif to replace what Loki had cut off."

"Eitri succeeded in making the golden boar Gullinbursti, the golden ring Draupnir, and the hammer Mjöllnir."

Aside from the fact that these questions tend to get closed for other reasons, these types of questions are less interesting because they aren't talking about actual myths. If you don't understand why that's a problem, imagine if someone asked the following question on SciFi.SE:

According to the wikipedia page about Harry Potter, Harry's aunt and uncle didn't like him. Why was that?

We're a site about mythology, so we should encourage people to ask questions about actual myths. If you look at, to pick one of many examples, the wonderful and interesting questions HDE 226868 asks, you'll notice that they are mostly about a translated version of a specific myth. I think that's a big part of what makes those questions interesting.

The meta post is designed to encourage new users to ask questions based on things said in actual myths as opposed to questions about things said in wikipedia. It is not supposed to be a "shopping" question, or anything other than a guide for new users. As such, it belongs on meta and not the main site.

  • +1. Some of this answer should probably be in the faq question itself – durron597 May 20 '15 at 23:16
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    You want a question that helps to address questions commonly asked on the main site to live... Off-site? Where it won't show up in the related sidebar, or linked sidebar, or FAQ lists, or be available as a dup-target, or... You're shooting yourself in the foot. Stop. – Shog9 May 22 '15 at 0:10
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    @Shog9 thanks. We're discussing this on the chat, and we will probably move it to the main site, with (hopefully) a policy to close other recommendation questions as duplicates of that question (I think that's what we should do, but I don't know if that's the community consensus yet). To be fair to myself, this wasn't a knee-jerk reaction but an attempt to explain the community consensus. In response, the community team put forth good arguments, and we (as a community) are listening to them. – user62 May 22 '15 at 18:45
  • @Shog9 there is precedent for having resource questions on meta btw meta.ell.stackexchange.com/questions/735/… – user62 May 23 '15 at 16:36
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    I'm not sure how much of a regular you are on SFF.SE, but your SFF example falls really flat since it is IMHO 100% false. Such a question (Harry potter "why") would be welcomed at the site, and answered with something, most likely, unexpected (such as Rowling's interview that sheds extra light compared to just reading a book). – DVK May 24 '15 at 1:34

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