I had posted a question about what books could help an adult English language learner. By way of example, I listed a few texts that I have discussed with a few students of English, but I wanted to know what other books would be helpful for other learners.

The question was placed on hold for being too subjective. I researched this question, and discovered it was a duplicate, but the original question was locked. This question was similar to mine, but it was derided for unfair reasons. It seems the only acceptable answer to this question is the New King James Version of the Bible, and that wouldn't necessarily be the most appropriate suggestion since this is a secular forum. Having the question placed on hold seems like a form of censorship and subjects my question to a reactionary bias.

In the Humanities, there often isn't any way to answer questions with the same objectivity as in the Sciences. One expects decisions to with an academic impartiality, and I am not seeing that with this question.

Without knowing what research materials have been helpful to a student, it makes it more difficult to help future English Language Learners.

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Censorship? Please, don't toss around the c-word like that.

Did you read through the Help Center before posting your question? It's pretty clear-cut:

To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where...

  • every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”

(emphasis in original)

I'd like to point out that, even though your question was eventually closed (rightfully so, as it should have been – at least in my opinion), you still received eight comments, and, near as I can tell, every one of them was cordial and helpful.

That's not censorship, that's people committed to helping learners learn and to keeping the site on-track and the questions on-topic.

As a community, I think we behaved quite admirably in this case.

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  • This is precisely my point. The question was well received, and a similar question was also well received. Closing a question like that is a form of censorship. – B.W. Dec 20 '17 at 23:09
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    @B.W. - No, deleting the question outright, or deleting your account and banishing you from the site might be considered forms of censorship. But closing the question in accordance with long-established site rules and guidelines is not censorship. Perhaps it's time to take a hard look at what that word actually means? – J.R. Dec 20 '17 at 23:17
  • Would you ban someone for making condescending remarks to members who are contributing to the community without pay? Of course not, that would be censorship. One tolerates. Putting a well received post on hold is by definition censorship. From my dictionary : "the act or practice of examining literature [and Stack Exchange posts] for the purpose of suppressing or deleting parts deemed objectionable on moral, political, military, or other grounds." is censorship. We in are relative agreement as to the definition. Are we not? – B.W. Dec 20 '17 at 23:45
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    @B.W. - Your question wasn't closed on moral, political, or military grounds. Questions are routinely closed on SE when they are off-topic for the site, and all SE sites have help centers that explain what is on- and off-topic. Your cries of censorship smack of perceived victimization. Gimme a break. – J.R. Dec 21 '17 at 1:09

Lists don't fit well into the SE model because lists of suggestions don't have one answer that completely answers the question. SE questions "...have answers, not items or ideas or opinions".

There are many good questions that don't fit the Stack Exchange model well. It doesn't mean that the discussion of those questions wouldn't benefit learners, it just means that those discussions really belong on another site more suited for them.

It's not just about subjectivity - we tolerate a lot of subjectivity about whether something "sounds awkward" or "seems rude" or "is too informal". The problem is that every answer to "list" questions is equally valid. You can't fairly pick one answer as The Answer to The Question.

We do have a list of Resources for learning English because we know that those suggestions can really help learners. I would recommend adding an answer to that resources thread as a start for a curated list of recommended books that we can all collaborate on.

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List questions always really turn out to be opinion-based and broad. Every person has their own mind about what reference is suitable for learners; which books are helpful and which aren't. I dare say out of a dozen books referenced a dozen more will be helpful - there's always another book out there!

What I can advise is you browse the meta here and check out the literature listed in the Resources for learning English and pick a few trustworthy ones.

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