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    • CommentAuthorHarry Gindi
    • CommentTimeApr 7th 2010 edited

    For example, consider this thread. It is a reference request that was answered a while ago. However, a user recently added an answer. I highly doubt that the person who asked the question has not been able to find a book in the past two months.

    This sort of thing happens pretty often, usually when new users (who curiously very often have only one reputation point) dredge up an old reference request. Perhaps we could have a time limit on reference requests to avoid having them bounced up to the front page after they are no longer relevant. Any thoughts?

    Edit: I have voted to close as "no longer relevant", since this appears to be the case.


    I strongly disagree. MO is for posterity, not just the person who asked the question. It's perfectly reasonable for you to decide it's not worth posting that long afterward, but if people want to do so, I say let them. The people looking for those references in the future will appreciate it.

    +1 to Ben

    I feel like with reference requests, the best answers are going to show up in the first ten answers, and if not in the first ten answers, certainly in the first two months.


    @fpqc- You're probably right most of the time, but that's not a good reason to close the question. So they'll get bounced up to the front page occasionally; what's so bad about that? Old questions getting new answers is a feature, not a bug.


    I find it annoying to have old irrelevant community wiki reference requests bounced up to the front page. Scott has closed old community wiki threads that were continually bounced up, for instance. I just get the feeling that nobody actually reads these posts and we should just close them to save space.


    I strongly agree with Ben. Why are reference requests different from other types of questions? Just because a question is answered is no reason to close it. Better answers may come along. Old answers may become obsolete. For example, a book may come out which supersedes some notes, or some new result may be proved which allows for a greatly simplified exposition.

    Think carefully about this question: what is the point of closing a question? I can think of essentially two general reasons for closing, and neither of them is to save space anywhere:

    • We close questions to keep MO civil and on topic ("on topic" has a lot of stuff crammed into it here).
    • We close questions that people should not answer because it's not clear what the question is. These are questions where you expect the author to clarify something or sharpen the question somehow, after which you'd vote to reopen.

    I don't agree with the reasoning that a question should be closed because people don't want to see it any more (btw, please vote up Qiaochu's feature request on meta.SE). Frankly, the questions (I can think of) that have been closed for that reason have really been off topic from the beginning. They've also been really vague. A proper focused reference request simply will not invite scads of answers, so this won't even come up.

    Incidentally, I actually agree with you about voting to close that particular question, but it has nothing to do with the fact that it has the [reference-request] tag. Pete Clark said it quite well in a comment:

    I am surprised that this got so many answers without anyone asking (publicly) the questioner what s/he was looking for in a measure theory text. Without that information, the question becomes "Please list some measure theory books that some people have liked", which is pretty close to just "Please list some measure theory books". Even a community wiki question should have more of a focus than this, IMO. – Pete L. Clark Feb 1 at 8:59

    • CommentAuthorBen Webster
    • CommentTimeApr 7th 2010 edited

    I think in part fpqc was making the point that some out of hand big-list questions have been closed basically because Scott was sick of having them on the front page (and I don't blame him), and that he thought this question should be grouped with them. That's the point I disagree on; I just don't think this question is likely to get that out of hand.