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I've noticed a type of question where closure and reception practices are inconsistent, namely questions about books/resources (including audiovisual and online resources). I'm aware there are subcategories to this type of question, which I consider to be:

  1. Questions trying to identify/locate a specific resource that is known to exist (the OP has previously heard/read/used a resource but cannot recall what it is and/or how to find it).
  2. Questions trying to identify any resource(s) about a given topic (i.e., seeking a recommendation and/or literature review).
  3. Questions asking about a specific resource (e.g., asking about the historical accuracy or bias of a work/author).
  4. Questions trying to determine if a resource meeting specific criteria exists (i.e., the existence (or non-existence) of such a resource is unknown by the OP).
  5. Questions seeking the best (or most scholarly/accurate/reliable/helpful/etc.) resource on a given topic and/or given specific criteria (the presence of the superlative is the key indicator for this type of question, which often indicates that it will gather opinionated responses instead of an answer).

Questions #2 and #4 may actually be one category for the purposes of determining if they are are on or off topic, but I've opted to distinguish between them (although many times the distinction will be subtle) in case others think they should be treated differently.

Also, each category may need further subdivision (particularly whether the resource being asked about is a type of Bible/biblical text vs. another kind of resource).

Here are some links to what I've found that appear to be related to these categories:

#1 — Questions trying to identify/locate a specific resource (the OP has previously heard/read/used a resource but cannot recall what it is and/or how to find it

#2 — Questions trying to identify any resource(s) about a given topic (i.e., seeking a recommendation).

#3 — Questions asking about a specific resource (e.g., asking about the historical accuracy or bias of a work/author).

#4 — Questions trying to determine if a resource meeting specific criteria exists (i.e., the existence (or non-existence) of such a resource is unknown by the OP)

#5 — Questions seeking the best (or most scholarly/accurate/reliable/helpful/etc.) resource on a given topic and/or given specific criteria

I'm not proposing that all of these are off topic (I've intentionally included previously-closed questions and not indicated when this is the case—I know many others have been closed that fit in these categories that are now dead links—some are linked to still on meta). However, I am proposing that we should be consistent about how we treat questions in each category. I'm also interested in proposals challenging these categories (whether combining or further sub-classifying them).

  • FWIW, ID questions have been banned on the Movies site. Quite a bit of backlash too. I prefer highly subjective laissez-faire moderation and would never propose to make any brand of question off topic either. Bad questions should be closed, good questions should be upvoted. We probably should do something about the "what's this tape I listened to in 1985" question. – Peter Turner Mar 30 '18 at 3:35
  • @MattGutting agreed, hence my statement right after listing them initially about them being the same category most likely. The distinction is very subtle (and has to do with the degree of specificity). – Dan Mar 30 '18 at 15:28
  • @PeterTurner there is a lot of wisdom in that approach. But it doesn’t work well with my personality (I prefer well-defined law codes; moderators functioning as judges with meta defining clear policies). – Dan Mar 30 '18 at 15:40
  • And I would prefer that everything in life were neat, tidy, and organized. Unfortunately, for the most part it just doesn't work that way. ;-) More to the point, though some rules are good, I tend to think that if there's not a very good reason to disallow it (such as the likelihood of answers being denominational popularity contests or the occasion for flame wars), it's better to allow a question than to shut it down. – Lee Woofenden Apr 2 '18 at 12:32
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Category 1

First, I'd suggest that the last item on your Category 1 list ("Where to find Catholic Missals...") is closer to your Category 2, since there could be multiple places to find them. In general though, I'd allow these, since there could be a single good/best answer. Taken case by case, at least. They don't necessarily fit into the "What topics can I ask about here?" categories, but most of them are reasonably factual questions that can have general interest. (I'd close the "children's cassette" and possibly the "Christian story/song" ones, but leave the rest.)

Category 2

For many of these I think I'd recommend closure. They all look like list questions, which are not necessarily bad. But where "ecclesiastical vestments of the 1200s" is likely to be a pretty small list (and thus, to my mind, allowable), "Where can I learn about Catholic terms and phrases?" is likely to yield scores if not hundreds of possible list items (unless you state them in very generic terms).

Category 3

These I'd probably leave open unless they violate some other precept. If the resource is known, and sufficiently described, someone who knows, or can do research, about it can probably answer questions about it (as, for example, I could about the Summa Theologica).

Category 4

As I stated in an earlier comment, I'm not clear on the distinction between this and Category 2, so I'll leave it for now.

Category 5

Of the three examples you give, I'm not sure where I stand on the first one. It depends on how I decide to interpret "takes the least amount of doctrinal liberties". Given that an evaluation of what are "doctrinal liberties" will undoubtedly vary by denomination, I'd probably be inclined to close as opinion-based. The same goes for your third example. The second example I'd close as opinion-based because what's easy to read depends on the person. And probably the same for anything that asks for "the best", or "the least amount of" something which will be interpreted differently by different groups. "Most accurate/scholarly/reliable" are probably objectively-enough defined that I'd leave them open, but otherwise I'd likely close them.

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