Ok, so Books right?

If one went to a major university and asked to major in books, the counselors would suppress a bemused chuckle. They would say "You mean literature right?" or "You mean taking care of and preserving books, right?". Not "that's a great idea, let's start a books department". Of course, Stack is not a university, but in my opinion this analogy holds for this scenario.

What about the Sci-fi site?

2 of the 5 on-topic questions for Books are about sci-fi books. That's directly on-topic for sci-fi, how is a user going to know whether they should post on Sci-Fi or on f'n Books?

Books to me, is really literature limited by length and source, which is ridiculous from a literary expert point-of-view.

Nor is this proposal about the preservation of books which is more relevant for this topic title.

Maybe this will all work out fine as is, but I think these are important concerns to be addressed.

Proposal: Books

2 Answers 2


There are good and bad points in what you say.

Topic and name

From the name, I imagine a site about books could include questions about:

  • Writing books. That's what Writers is all about.
  • Publishing books. That's also covered by Writers.
  • Managing books. The proposed Libraries is about professional book management.
  • Trading and collecting books.
  • Reading books.

Judging by the example on-topic questions on the Books proposal, the intended audience is firmly readers. I very much agree that Literature would be a far better name for that.

If there is interest in a separate site for book trading and collecting, it should come as a separate proposal. The professionals there would be booksellers, not literature professors.

Topic overlap

I very much disagree that the overlap with Science Fiction and Fantasy is an issue. There's an SF community, with plenty of people who read SF books and watch SF movies and series and so on, but don't necessarily care about other genres. There's a literature community, with plenty of people who'll read any genre, but don't care for movies. It's natural that each community would have its site, and questions about written SF would be on-topic on both sites (with different expected skew in answers).

There are precedents on Stack Exchange of sites with significant overlap. For example Ask Different is about all things Apple, and there's also a site about Unix & Linux. Many questions about Mac OS X, which is a unix variant under the hood and visibly an Apple product, could end up on both. In practice, AD mostly gets the GUI questions and U&L mostly gets the command-line questions. And there's an Ubuntu site, which is technically a sub-topic of Unix & Linux; yet both sites are working well, and the occasional migration isn't killing us.

Question types

One thing that worries me about the book proposal is that three of the example questions are book recommendations. We tried that on SF&F, and after a while we weren't so hot about them, because most recommendation questions were pretty bad (the questions were usually too broad, and the answers weren't very useful because they rarely explained why the answerer thought the proposed book was a good fit).

Before that, Gaming had issues with recommendations and ended up rejecting them. It's a trend.

Therefore, rather than just renaming Books and going with the existing definition and commitments, I recommend resurrecting or recreating a Literature proposal, and referring people interested in (reading) books to that (instead of the opposite.

  • 3
    +1, good points. The world is definitely not going to come to an end for the sci-fi site, if the books proposal gets launched. Also, the whole recommendations bit is going to be terrifying for whoever has to mod that site. Commented May 19, 2011 at 20:28
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    @MarkRogers I'm not a mod, just a member of the Literature site. Guess what: The recommendation requests ARE a nightmare. They are relentless, numerous, and often very obscure or specific. I have no solution to propose, and the mods on Literature are somehow managing to keep things under control, bless their hearts (the situation has actually improved a lot in the past few weeks, which is rather amazing). But you were right, back in May! Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 9:24
  • @FeralOink The Lit site has been trying a book recommendation policy since September 1st. Please voice your concerns in the situation report thread, especially if you've seen a change in the middle of that period (which I haven't seen mentioned elsewhere). Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 10:23
  • @Gilles Thank you for mentioning that! My comment was based on casual observation ONLY, not a frequency count or aged inventory check. Just want to emphasize that. But I do visit the Lit site at least 4x week, and perceive that it is no longer glutted with unanswered, or answered but unaccepted, book recommendation questions. Plus there seem to be fewer of the obscure variety requests. I'll provide feedback per your suggestion. Commented Oct 8, 2011 at 14:23

I definitely like the idea of changing the name from books to literature, that seems to be a far more encompassing idea.

As to the overlap with other sites, well, I'd say that there's some inevitability that there will be overlap with sites, but that's alright really. I think that this site would be fine for the non-sci-fi enthusiast who has a few sci-fi questions, which can be passed on to sci-fi if they are the much more detailed questions we like. I think there's room for everyone to participate.

  • Good response, one concern: Migration is extremely frowned upon, in this model migration would appear to be common place. Commented May 19, 2011 at 14:54
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    @Mark: I migration would not be that common, or so I would expect. I would only migrate a question if it was sci-fi related, and there were no answers within a period of time, say, a few days. I think that policy would enable the site to function for those with broader literature tastes. Commented May 19, 2011 at 14:56

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