Sometimes we see questions which seem to be simple requests for external resources. Another variant on this is the request for titles from the literature on some topic.

This is something that I have wondered about before, but I have in mind this question, at the moment. It is an understandable question, and could possibly lead to useful answers, but it also seems that the answers would be primarily opinion-based. Then again, many useful answers to musical questions seem to shade into opinion. Looking again, there is now an answer to this question which looks to contain useful information, and which mentions the first thing that I thought of when I read the question (the books of Jimmy Wyble).

From the help center page about on-topic questions, questions should not be about:

requesting external resources (questions should be specific and answerable on this site; external links are for references and supporting material)

Further, one of the reasons for closure is that a question would require answers which are primarily opinion-based.

Should a question such as the one linked to above be flagged as opinion-based, or for some other reason? Alternatively, given that many useful musical questions necessitate a measure of opinion, should such a question be flagged at all?

2 Answers 2


Since i posted the question being referenced i should probably comment. For context, here are at least two questions specifically asking for external references, being passed and upvoted:

Online counterpoint materials

Resources for "popular" counterpoint?

For those of you interested in consistent moderation, reflecting on differences/similarities to my question could be worthwile.

Lastly, a question coming across as unclear might have to do with something else other than the actual question.

  • One user managed to answer my question perfectly. There could have been more answers elaborating further.
    – Erik
    Feb 27, 2018 at 19:27
  • Whether the question is unclear or not is not yet proven, since other users with appropriate knowledge no longer have the opportunity to answer it. Regarding the request for external resources, it has evidently been allowed before based on the links i provided for comparison.
    – Erik
    Feb 27, 2018 at 19:39
  • It's clear to someone who understands the concepts of counterpoint, which has been well defined since it's conception. As for how tonality in music has evolved through history is also rather well established. The question - as has been proven by one user already - should be rather straight forward to someone familiar with these things.
    – Erik
    Feb 27, 2018 at 19:51
  • I never asked for help on how to phrase a question.
    – Erik
    Feb 28, 2018 at 5:52
  • 2
    Both questions are now locked since if they were asked today they would be closed. With over 12,000 questions on the site it is very possible that there are old questions on the site that don't match up well with our scope. Also remember, we want to answer questions directly here as much as possible since that's why we're here. Just pointing to an external source isn't really what this site is about (though an answer with external support is always welcome, but the meat of the answer should be here).
    – Dom Mod
    Feb 28, 2018 at 16:19

The first approach to take with any question that seems to have issues is to see if it can be improved. I feel that often, a comment suggesting how the question might be edited to fit the on-topic rules may be a friendlier and more productive action than a flag - especially with new users.

If that doesn't work, then, given that "requesting external resources" is mentioned on that page as off-topic, simply flagging as off-topic is appropriate.

This is one of many SE sites on which answers that have some basis in opinion are fine. I'd think that something that's 'primarily opinion-based' for our site would be something that's essentially subjective - 'what's the best guitar multi-effect pedal', for example. As currently worded, I agree with your comments on the example question that any issues are more likely to be with breadth and specificity; as I'm not an expert in jazz counterpoint though, I'm not going to flag, because for all I know it's possible that genuine experts in that topic would see a clear path to an answer.


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