The problem with “list questions” — questions like “What are some interesting results about this object?” and “What books are there about this subject?” — is that they do not call for answers, they call for items. The Stack Exchange platform is not well-suited for lists.
Lists don't tend to generate discussion. Usually, the outcome of a list question is:
- either only a few answers, which makes the answers as a whole woefully incomplete, so that even all the answers taken together do not make a good answer to the question;
- or many answers, sorted in a way that doesn't cater to relevance, with no indication of why one would prefer this or that answer, with many duplicates, etc.
Voting on items tends to privilege whatever was posted first, and secondly the most popular items. It practically never highlights the best items (whatever best can mean in context) or the most relevant ones.
All list questions should be community wikis.
Making the question community wiki doesn't change anything to the quality of the answers. On this topic, please read the future of community wiki.
List questions sometimes work on Math Overflow and CSTheory because there's a major entry barrier: only a select few like-minded people participate on the site. This significantly reduces the bad, poorly sourced content. The lists of items might not be complete or rated but at least most of the items tend to be relevant. Experience shows that this isn't the case on less selective sites.
Math.SE might be able to afford a few duds now and then, but CS.SE doesn't have the established user base and traffic volume to accommodate a bunch of low-quality questions.
My personal opinion is that we should handle list questions as liberal as possible for now.
The proper response to expected train wrecks is not to watch them accummulate and cordon off the perimeter and send excuses to the families when they happen. Rather, we should prevent the train wrecks in the first place.
If the community has grown, we discuss this question again.
No, on the contrary, quality can only go down. The time to eliminate bad questions is now, not after the site has failed because there were too few actual questions amid a sea of lists.
Questions on Stack Exchange must be answerable. That means that there is the expectation that one answer will be a sufficient resource on the question. If every answer has one item, that doesn't happen. For example: do not ask “what is the best book about X?” or “I want to read a book about X, what are the possibilities?”, because they call for items. On the other hand, a question like “What collection of books and articles would make a good background for a semester course about X?” can be a good question; different answers might give different reading lists, sometimes mentioning the same book but in a different set and with different rationales. Then each answer is useful on its own.
In a nutshell: don't ask for a book, ask for a curriculum.