# Should we allow “list of X”-questions?

Many questions currently on the site are things like "Give me a list of options for X".

There is a decent amount of precedence for these kinds of questions being discouraged on StackExchange sites. For example, on Meta SE: "Should we have a “List of X” close reason?" and on the Gaming Meta: "Best/favourite/subjective list type questions".

Specifically on StackOverflow, there used to be precedence for older, popular questions to be grandfathered in as long as they were community wikis (ostensibly to prevent rep farming), but apparently now all those questions are closed.

There also seems to be some precedence on SuperUser to require "recommendation" type questions to be tagged as software-rec. There's some discussion on Web Applications to consider following a similar paradigm.

Just on the front page, here are some examples of what I'm talking about:

I could list more but got tired of copying and pasting the title and the link for every example.

What should our stance on this site be for these kinds of questions? What moderator actions (if any) should be taken on them? I'm not fully familiar with all the discussions, so I'm not going to list out pros and cons myself. I'll leave that to the answers.

Edit: for the record, I've changed my mind on this since writing it.

Personally, I happen to not mind list questions. I find that there are often a lot of resources out there that I haven't found that other people know about, so those kinds of questions seem useful.

I can also understand the desire to discourage these kinds of questions for rep farming. In my case, it doesn't necessarily seem fair to get 50 rep points just because I was the first person to link to something relatively popular. There are some more extreme examples out there in some of the other "list" questions.

Also, in my personal usage of StackOverflow, I've sometimes gone through some of the grandfathered community wiki list questions and have enjoyed reading them (in the case of the "favorite programmer cartoon" one), or learned something new from the "hidden features of C++" question (which is now closed).

One of the options moderators have is to force questions to be Community Wikis. To me, this seems fair. It leaves the question there for the community to build upon, and it mostly solves the rep farming concern (or at the very least, doesn't encourage the behavior as you don't get rep for asking/answering those kinds of questions after they're made into CWs).

I can understand the larger, more mature sites looking down on those questions entirely. SO has a relatively huge userbase compared to the other sites, and those kinds of questions can add to the noise. But in the younger, smaller sites, I think having those questions can actually help build the community as they give easy questions for people to rally around. Getting people in the habit of participating, even if it's just to post a link to something they know about, is probably going to help those users keep coming back.

Edit: seems like the general consensus is to make these types of questions community wikis.

• I second the community wiki solution. I think lists are perfectly valid questions--not every question has exactly one answer and allowing multiple answers to exist seems perfectly fair to me. They should, however, be community wiki to avoid rep farming while still allowing up/down votes on answers. – Sean James Aug 2 '10 at 1:45
• Community wiki sounds like a good idea to me. These questions are useful for finding new resources (graphics, music, etc.) that one might not have known of beforehand. – Bryan Denny Aug 2 '10 at 3:08
• This answer—even with the edits—doesn't match the current guidelines, and all of the questions linked from the OP have been closed or deleted. I started writing an answer to this that would clarify the situation, but realised it might be better if you did. (Does this sound sensible?) – Anko Aug 9 '15 at 19:39

I like list questions, as long as they are not duplicates. In fact if we DO start closing them users will keep trying to reopen them as new topics. I'm sure the mods will be marking new "Where do I get free sound" questions as duplicates for years to come. They are honestly one of the first questions any new game developer would ask. Also, they show up nicely in google search results if they're edited well, so can drive new users to the site and expand the community. Finally, as game development is changing relatively quickly many of these list questions could actually need new answers within a year or less. By allowing the users to add new answers we can use this site to keep nice resources lists to solve a variety of problems.

So my personal view is to force these questions to be community wiki, and to proactively close duplicate list questions. Other than that I think they are a positive for the site as a whole and advance the general cause of sharing information within the game development community.

• +1 I agree wholeheartedly, I think it would be nice if we could have a visible guideline for posting list questions. Doubt that would get added though, as the general community looks down on these 'questions' as a whole. – Jesse Dorsey Aug 1 '10 at 15:07

The style of question described is at odds with current policy on what is and is not considered on-topic.

If allowed, such answers have also difficulties with other current guidelines:

The community policy is to avoid using community wikis as a crutch for otherwise-bad questions.

Unless a question manages to overcome the difficulties described above, requests for "a list of options for X" should be closed.