Resources questions are supposed to be off topic, we even have a specific close reason for resources questions.

However, there are a some questions which we have that specifically ask for resources and are even tagged with the resources tag.

Someone on here recently asked a resources question which is a fair enough request, but our policy says we don't want these types of questions mainly because the tools provided in the answers often go missing or are never updated etc.

The OP of the question above rightly asked why we allowed the other resource question and not theirs. I can only point to our site policy, but if that really is the policy why are the others allowed.

Is there a grey area here or is the resources thing a strict no? I just checked the section of our FAQ about resources and it seems to say resource questions are OK if they are specific.

It seems I have come full circle and even I am slightly confused... any suggestions?

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Maybe any request for resources outside of what is covered in the "Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese" should be allowed, after the question has been open say 72 hours it gets closed and the content gets merged with "Resources for learning Mandarin Chinese"? that way our main resource post gets updated with information that wasn't previously present and still conforms, kinda with the no Resources questions as they are being closed off. –  50-3 Nov 19 '13 at 2:17
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2 Answers

Over on the SE site I'm most active on, Travel, we have specific policies about what kind of resource questions are OK. We have an online-resources tag for websites and smartphone/tablet apps, and a guidebooks tag. We also have a maps tag, which is often used on questions seeking particular maps, which are obviously another kind of resource.

Basically we don't allow questions seeking recommendations for resources. So "please suggest an app" and "What is the best guidebook?" are out. This is due to the official Stack Exchange policy that "shopping questions are bad".

But we do allow questions seeking resources generally, especially when they are hard to find, require use of a foreign language, or there are specific needed features.

Acceptable answers to these questions might just relate how to find the resource. Perhaps a non-obvious or foreign-language search keyword is needed. But they might also link to existing websites with lists of related resources, or they might themselves include a short list.

So we don't allow asking "what's the best flight search engine" but we would allow "Are there flight search engines which support flights to a particular city from anywhere?". We don't allow "Is Lonely Planet better than Rough Guide" but we allow questions about guidebooks for places that are hard to find, or that have a niche speciality such as local flora and fauna.

I think a similar approach could well work here.

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The FAQ matches what I remember as the consensus from the discussion of resource questions. I've posted my opinion before.

I'm not saying that you should never ask for a list of suggestions, but when you do, you should ask for something as specific as possible.

When the reference list questions were proposed, I discouraged them.

I don't think making the questions community wiki will make them fit the model any better. Open-ended lists of resources can be placed elsewhere.

However, the community decided to make an exception for a small number of reference list questions, and I haven't noticed them causing significant problems.

For your question about the resources tag, it can be used for the sanctioned reference list questions, as well as any requests for resources that are specific enough to be on topic. I've added a link from the tag wiki to the help page.

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