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Here we have Are book recommendations a good fit for this site? a thread for book recommendations.

I'm pleased that I learned about The Art of Electronics from this question..... book recommendations help fulfill the educational goals of this site and should be allowed or encouraged. Of course, if in future it is observed that book recommendations are causing a problem, I would be happy to revise my opinion on this.

For those who are students/learning new subjects would need some help to have a idea what book would be easy to understand/standard book/the book which is mostly preferred (for instance, The Art of Electronics:Paul Horowitz and Winfield Hill from here). In our EE.SE, we have many experts who can recommend good books for beginners but it is considered as off-topic.

So, I want to know why book recommendations are marked as off-topic?

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I can offer some reasons why from the older sister-site Stack Overflow.

Book recommendations were once on-topic. This spawned a whole lot of very low quality "recommendation" threads, where anyone could recommend anything. It was completely subjective and there were no prerequisites for recommending a book - some people even recommended books they had not read themselves. So essentially you ended up with a list of everything ever written about the topic, both good and bad.

The stance since then is roughly that although it is not advised, you can have book recommendation lists there, if they are carefully moderated and updated by a lot of users. The book lists that weren't carefully supervised have all derailed into low quality.

Lessons learned: allowing book recommendations was a bad idea. Lists of recommendations in general does not fit in well with the Stack Exchange Q&A.

If EE was to allow book recommendations, it would have to learn from all the mistakes done by SO:

  • There must be established rules for how one proposes that a book should be added to the list, and for the procedure of adding it. Ideally, those recommending a book must have read it, and all of it, but this is impossible to check.
  • The list must be actively moderated by many people, all who need to have excellent domain knowledge. Repuation can be used as a blunt way to measure it.
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A recommendation is in its very purpose heavily based on opinion. This is why questions where the answer is an expression of an opinion are offtopic too.

Additionally things change. Technologies advance, best practices get superseeded etc. will that be still a good fit in a year? in five? in 10?

Remember that the Q&A here isn't just to help the OP, but primarily to build up a database of factual knowledge that people later can revisit. Likely nobody will keep the answer up to date all the time.

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Stack exchange has evolved significantly from what it was 7 years ago when the question you referenced was posted. The recommendations on what is on topic have changed.

The old questions are still kept around because they are still useful

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Just to clarify what I think the situation is. Please correct me if I have misunderstood the current rules: -

  • When making an answer, if you want to mention such and such a book as being quite useful then, this should not be regarded as a problem. Of course, any book recommendation is a personal opinion and should be taken as such.
  • When making a question, if you ask for book/literature recommendations and, expect answers to contain such recommendations, don't be disappointed if someone informs you that asking for these recommendations is off-topic.
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    \$\begingroup\$ When making a question you should help new users to write a good question. When making an answer, you can use books as a reference or direct people to resources if it supports your answer. The answer should stand on its own, (no link only answers) but you can supply links to material or references to books. \$\endgroup\$
    – Voltage Spike Mod
    Commented Sep 26, 2023 at 16:20

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