Proposal: Literature

The questions voted on-topic seem weighted rather heavily to "what book should I read next?"-type questions (by author, style, series order...).

Is this the desired aim of the site? I have difficulty imagining what expert-level questions might be asked in such a forum - except perhaps seeking extremely obscure books and topics - and a lot of the example questions seem to me to have easy answers readily available (e.g. Wikipedia, fan sites, "People who bought this book also bought..."). On the Theater.SE proposal, there was well-reasoned opposition to even allowing recommendation questions, so seeing them as central to a proposal seems like it might be worrying.

Is this type of question really as central to the intended definition as the definition questions make it seem? If so - where do expertise and quality come in?

2 Answers 2


I think the issue is that when you first think of literature people have a tendancy to think "I like x, should I read y?", instead of more thought provoking questions, which is where the real experts of the QnA will shine.

From what i've seen, when it comes to literature people will find a good book or author, and then consume everything by them, and then become compeletely lost with what to do with their new-found thirst for literature and need direction.

for instance, when i was younger i was into K.A. Applegate, and once i completed everything by her i couldn't find anything else to keep my interest, so i kind of floated by for a while until i just happened upon Jim Butcher and Terry Pratchett. I've been obsessed with them ever since, but i've slowly built out my interests, at least in sci-fi and fantasy.

so yes, i think that it'll do fine even with recommendations being a central part of the site, because i believe there will be much more to it than that, that's just how the questions got set up.

or the recommendations will choke the beta and it'll fail. we'll find out if/when it makes it there

  • 1
    You're saying book recommendations are central enough to avid readers to justify serving as a major part of the site; very good point. But any idea what the other, non-recommendation questions might be? (Not only thought-provoking, BTW - IMHO, where SE really shines is more in the area of semi-obscure, highly-specific, hard-to-find expertise.)
    – Ziv
    Jul 6, 2011 at 4:06
  • Well the first thing that popped into my head was ways of identifying rare books/publications as authentic or reproductions. publication maintenance/repair/restoration will probably be another good part. i'm sure there are lots of other obsure questions that'll be asked, i just don't know them.
    – DForck42
    Jul 6, 2011 at 13:35
  • Another topic that'll probably spur interest are unmarked books or books that are unidentifiable except by text in the boo(ie, no book title or author).
    – DForck42
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:14
  • Those sound like good topics for an SE! But... they sound more like "book collectors" than "literature." Maybe I'm just being thrown off by the name?
    – Ziv
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:19
  • @Ziv, books are just an example, these could be asked for any type of literature. The issue i think you're seeing is that this SE was originally just about books but got expanded to literature
    – DForck42
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:24
  • I find your clarification confusing. What other types of literature are we talking about? If the site definition is in an interstitial phase, maybe you could explain what you see as its core subject(s)?
    – Ziv
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:28
  • @Ziv, literature, by definition, coveres all forms of written works. Including but not limited to: books, poetry, essays, and news articles.
    – DForck42
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:35
  • That's an important expansion (and you're right, it doesn't show much in the example questions). But, if I understand you correctly, you're saying people would be asking the same kind of questions about the non-book literature? Again: does that provide us with a solid core?
    – Ziv
    Jul 7, 2011 at 18:58
  • 1
    @Ziv, yes. I believe it will.
    – DForck42
    Jul 7, 2011 at 19:04
  • 1
    Recommendations don't make good reference material, and SE sites aren't just about now, they are meant to be a living reference. Additionally, "what book should I read next" is an obvious parallel to "what programming language should I learn next" which has just about strangled programmers.SE. Easy to ask/answer questions that seek or offer real expertise. In my experience, recommendations of this type are clearly bad subjective and will drown out really great questions that give the site real expert-level value.
    – HedgeMage
    Jul 11, 2011 at 18:20

I think the concept will be shaped mostly by the community, as in other se sites. There is no need to worry about the on-topic questions, they are guidelines after all.

  • 3
    Those guidelines are what help us get fledgling sites off the ground. An SE community without a strong core and a clear sense of what their site is trying to achieve is hardly a promising venture.
    – Ziv
    Jun 30, 2011 at 20:29

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