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The community here has closed a lot of questions that ask for music book recommendations, and there have been some discussions here on meta (here), where people say that most likely, those questions won't be accepted here.

But recently there a software recommendation question (here) which is on topic.

I can't see the difference between these two kind of questions. They both ask for lists and are bound to be primarily opinion based.

How can we allow the one kind and not the other?

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    +1 Good point. I personally don't have a problem with helping to guide musicians towards resources, electronic or books, that will help them to gain key skills. Like many other recent discussions on meta, it seems to me that the best solution is to let common-sense be a guide, as often happens already. Questions which return rambling, vague lists will not be helpful; questions which are more specific are likely to receive more focused answers, guiding users towards key books, apps and resources. But, yes, it is difficult to reconcile this with the site "rules". – Bob Broadley Aug 20 '14 at 15:25
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We have also had a lot of discussion about software recommendations, and I think the consensus is not that software recs are on topic, but that some can be, if the question is written well. I think book recommendations should be treated similarly to software recommendations.

My personal opinion is that these sorts of things are more suited to discussion in the chat room, but as there is this uncertainty, I now wait to see what other members of the community do: if there are four votes to close a list type question, I'll usually add the fifth, or if the question is badly worded it will perhaps tip the balance towards a close from me.

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    I agree that stuff like this is best handled via the chat room, but unfortunately there‚Äôs rarely a critical mass of chat users to make it work in practice. – Bradd Szonye Aug 25 '14 at 23:58
  • It seems like an important distinction is whether the answers are mostly a matter of opinion (e.g., "What is the best X?") versus factual aspects of the different pieces of software (e.g., "Which recording software packages can also do MIDI sequencing?"). Am I right in thinking the latter kind of software question is more likely to be on-topic? – Todd Wilcox Sep 18 '15 at 13:42
  • Now this question seems much more opinion based, both in question and answers, and yet has remained open for four years, so to a relative late-comer, it seems hard to tell whether to vote to close this question or not. – Todd Wilcox Sep 18 '15 at 13:45
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    I'd agree that one is off topic. Posts that may have been allowed back then despite being off topic when we were a young site and struggling to grow are less likely to be allowed now. – Doktor Mayhem Sep 18 '15 at 14:10

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