Following up from OK, so what IS allowed here?, what are our opinions on fielding listening recommendation questions?

Here are some choices made by sister sites:

  • Science Fiction & Fantasy: No recommendation questions, whether personalized ("I like X, what will I also like?" or categorical ("List of works that have Y in them").
  • StackOverflow/SuperUser/ServerFault: a separate stack, https://softwarerecs.stackexchange.com/, was created because they're off-topic there.
  • Arqade - requests for game recommendations off-topic, as per their Tour.
  • Movies & TV - seems to be off topic based on (old) Meta posts, though the Tour doesn't state it explicitly.

In short, there seems to be a rather widespread consensus against them. However, that doesn't mean that we have to accept it here. Focused recommendation questions - not just "I like early Bowie, what else will I like", but the sort of questions that utilizes the expertise of the community, might be a better fit. Perhaps questions like "I enjoy the repetitive loops in Iggy Pop's The Passenger when jogging. What other songs have a similar song structure?".

Answers to this question should state if requests for recommendations should be entertained at all, and if so - what limitations and restrictions should be placed on those we accept.

  • Accepting them will violate the basis of an SE site. They are hardly out of "opinion-based".
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:01
  • @MARamezani Post that as an answer, so people can vote on it. Feb 24, 2015 at 19:01
  • Oh, I wanted to state my opinion. I'll convert it to an answer as soon as I get the time.
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:02
  • 3
    Remember, folks, this is Meta. Up/downvoting is a measure of agreement, not of answer quality. Don't hesitate to downvote the choices you disagree with! Feb 24, 2015 at 19:08
  • 1
    What about examples of songs/tracks from a particular genre?
    – MMM
    Feb 25, 2015 at 15:20
  • @MMM again, it's a potentially endless list, with no objective right answer. Additionally, genre categorization will lead to opinion arguments. Feb 25, 2015 at 15:24

7 Answers 7


I don't think we should accept them at all.

Edit : because although I think it's a great thing to do, I think there are places that can do it better than a general music fans SE site. Music forums allow for more chat and back-and-forth; Wiki pages allow you to browse through and read about associated artists.

Also, it's a 'many-to many' problem. People who would be satisfied by the same recommendations will ask the question in many different ways. SE is brilliant at 1:1 questions and answers (one specific question, one specific answer); it can do pretty well at 1 question : many answers, too. But many questions : many answers seems like it would be messy.

  • Can you explain why? I'm not for or against, just like to read your opinion. And yeah, sorry for my bad english. Feb 24, 2015 at 19:13
  • have edited to add some more bad English of my own :)
    – user16
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:21

No, listening recommendations should not be allowed.

Even if strict, objective parameters are defined for a request, it will still generate an open-ended list of possible answers that can never be definitively completed. A new album matching the request could be released in the future, making previous answers incomplete, and new answers equally valid.


I think asking for music recommendations is very interesting, though it should not be a topic of the MusicFans Q&A, but our chat room. Here we can freely exchange our favourite bands and songs with everybody who wants to join without any restrictions (except of "Be nice!").


Experience on Stack Exchange sites about computer-related and creative content-related topics shows that while some recommendation questions can work, it's only a small subset of them that do work. (I speak from experience on Science Fiction and Fantasy, the defunct Literature site, Stack Overflow, Super User, Unix & Linux, Software Recommendations where I'm a moderator, and more.)

Recommendation questions tend to devolve into list questions, i.e. questions where answers are items rather than full answers. The Stack Exchange format is not well-suited to this kind of questions. Voting on answers doesn't work: answers float up not because they are good, but primarily because they came first, secondarily because the item they cite is popular, and only barely based on the suitability of the item for the requirements of the question.

A good recommendation must encourage answers that strive to be complete. The community must hunt and downvote or delete answers that cite a single item, no matter how good that item is, unless the answer validly claims that one should listen to such-or-such and nothing else.

Bad: I like X and Y, what other songs should I listen to?

Fine: I want to introduce people to this genre, this is their background culture, I'm looking for about a hour's worth of listening. What should I play for them? [And do make sure to delete answers that recommend a single 5-minute song as not answering the question.]

Moderating recommendation questions can be difficult, so my advice is to allow them with a stringent policy. (You can find the policy of the defunct Literature site here; the few threads where questions and answers met the policy brought out some excellent material, but it wasn't really enforced and the threads that failed the policy were mediocre.) If the community doesn't manage to consistently enforce the policy, then recommendation questions will be more trouble than they're worth, and banning them outright is better than letting all the bad ones stand for a 1% gem rate.



Music recommendation, even "in the same style as", are primarly opinion based, as well as being List Questions.

Shopping recommendations are also off-topic in almost every SE from the Network, and even in SEs where the main problems of shopping aren't so present, e.g. things getting older and price problems, such as RPG.se, we ended up declaring it off-topic anyway because it leads to too many opinion based answers.


Recast them as genre-identification questions. In general, this is what I do.

The reason is this: "Listening recommendations" is a list-style, wholly opinion-based question format, oriented around a certain person, but genre characteristics are at least semi-objective, can be helpful to many people, and can include a listing of good examples as a support to understanding the definitions. By identifying the sub-genre, and providing a set of examples, you meet the objective of the original question, while still crafting a Q&A of general interest.

Of course, not every listening recc question can be reformed this way. But, in my experience, most of them can.


Yes, listening recommendation questions should be allowed, but only when the request comes with clear and objectively answerable parameters.

Recommendations based on "things I would like" should be closed by the mods and community. But requests based on objective parameters such as "death metal songs in 6/8 time" should be allowed, since they're not trivially answerable by Google or non-experts.

  • 3
    Your approach is sound, but the thing we should remember is: "It's really hard to come by that type of question which is actually of some value."
    – M.A.R.
    Feb 24, 2015 at 19:13

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .