YES, Resource questions are fine as long as they conform to SE's guiding principles (category 1 above): practical, answerable questions based on actual problems
Arguments in favor:
- We can encourage new learners and/or new users to ask honest questions about Japanese without being shut down, yet avoid becoming diluted with off-topic and open-ended questions.
- We do not have to blindly disregard useful questions and answers that could help the site grow.
- We can maintain the air of professionalism by still closing clearly unhelpful questions.
- This is going to be HARD. Consider whether you actually agree with my decisions on off-topic/on-topic in the examples below. If we move the boundary, there will be quite a bit more contention over anything that sound vaguely like a 'resource question'.
Here's the main rule from our FAQ on questions: "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face."
- Practical : The question has to have some point. A decent (though not foolproof) guide to this is "would this question ever help anyone else?"
- Answerable : Most resource-questions fail this. There should be an answer. Any rational person (not just the original person asking the question), should be able to come by and say "yes, this single answer answered the question". Virtually all "what's your favorite ___?" questions fail this.
- based on actual problems : Given that this is a language site, the usual "problem" is "I would like to express X", or "What does Y mean?". "I would like to learn to read kanji" may be signs of an underlying psychological problem, but the important thing to note is that the "problem" in this case is the person, not the language. The problem that you are trying to solve is the bit that we're arguing needs to be related to the language.
Here's our current FAQ sections on questions to avoid:
To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where:
- every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?” (fails all 3)
- your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?” (actual problem?)
- there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.” (actual problem, practical... in my perfect world, these questions would all have one single-word response "Yes")
- we are being asked an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?” (practical, actual problem)
- it is a rant disguised as a question: “______ sucks, am I right?” (fails all 3)
Now let's turn to some of the questions
1) "Answerable" resource questions:
Yes Written resources for scientific and philosophic japanese?
Practical: Yes, Answerable: Yes, Actual Problem: Yes ... Note that the title could be better
Yes Is there an online list of frequently used words in the news?
Practical: Yes, Answerable: Yes, Actual Problem: Yes
Yes Free, online resource for kanbun readings of particular texts?
Practical: Yes, Answerable: Yes, Actual Problem: Yes (problem is reading old japanese, language related)
Probably Yes Children's audio books good for listening practice?
Practical: Partly, Answerable: Yes, Actual Problem: Maybe. This one is similar to the "streaming japanese TV" question. "Actual Problem" is perhaps better because these resources are actually harder to find. Ironically, this question's most on-topic section is the resource question, the rest of it starts asking for generic recomendations.
2) Not "answerable" Resource questions:
No What should I look for in a dictionary to help me study?
Practical: Yes (but only on the surface), Answerable: No, Actual Problem: No
This one is a thinly disguised "What's your favorite _____ ?" question. It's not answerable in this case because the author made it so generic as to be absolutely useless. There is no actual problem here, unlike several of the other dictionary-related questions.
Probably No What are good sources for streaming Japanese language television?
Practical: Yes, Answerable: Yes, Actual Problem: Maybe. I have to say I'd be more sympathetic to this question if we were living in pre-youtube/nikoniko days, where finding Japanese tv programs was even remotely difficult. Given that we're not suffering from a lack of native-produced television program, it's hard to see where the "liveness" is an issue. How would you declare this to be on-topic, but exclude "Where can I find episode 14 of pokemon, season 3?"
No What techniques/resources do you use to learn Japanese?
Practical: Maybe, Answerable: Yes, Actual Problem: No. This might be our textbook example of “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
No What's the best utility for identifying kanji?
Practical: No, Answerable: No, Actual Problem: No. Clearcut "What's your favorite ____?" question.
No Appropiate anime or media to learn japanese
Practical: No, Answerable: No, Actual Problem: No. I attempted to answer this question by reframing the question "What are the pitfalls of learning Japanese from anime?" which I believe partly redeems it, but the question itself is simply not a question.