We've had a couple of questions recently that look to me like 'list questions' — i.e. questions that will elicit a number of equally valid recommendations as answers (as per https://genealogy.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask). However, these may be sufficiently specialised that they need 'experts' to answer them and are unlikely to generate a huge list of answers. Are we happy to accept list questions that meet these criteria?

Recent examples are:

Books and articles about life in 18th and 19th-century German villages

Is there a standard reference for alternative forms of a given or personal name?

ETA: Two people have suggested the second question isn't a list question.

The tell-tale markers that made it look like a list question for me were:

I want to look for a reference work


So, is there a standard reference

both of which suggested the answers might turn into a list of reference books. The alternative (as Duncan points out :) ) is a single one word answer.

  • :-) note the second question is not a list question, it's a yes/no question (and the answer is 'no').
    – Duncan
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 4:45

4 Answers 4


The fact that they haven't been closed, and have been answered, shows that the current community isn't interested in banning all list questions flat out (I don't think that the 2nd question is a list question BTW). The first one straddles the line, but has managed not to tip over it. The community is hungry for questions right now. I think that we're all just happy that people are coming out to play. I for one am willing to allow some leeway and don't want to be heavy handed.


Not an "answer" per se, but based on my read, both of the example questions include (a) an explanation of the actual problem, somewhat specific, someone wanted to solve, and (2) the answers posted added value and included reference to seemingly worthy materials.

While there was likely some subjectivity involved in how those answering selected their references, but as we've said, allowing some subjectivity is not a bad thing. (Especially so, we're serving an international community.)


While I endorse the idea that a blanket ban on "list questions" is a negative feature of SE, the proposed solution of opening the door a little bit seems impractical.

The two questions you reference seem to have found (different but equally effective) forms of words that say "This is not one of those bad questions" by including the terms high quality or standard reference. Others will surely follow the trend.

The criteria implied in your question for permissable "short list questions" introduces the possibility of apparently arbitrary rulings that will serve to confuse further those who have their questions rejected "because a non-expert could generate their list".

  • Not my proposed criteria -- I'd just observed that the community hadn't moved to close these, so must think there's something to set them apart. And if so, we need to understand what. Some sites allow "niche list" questions on the basis outlined; others ban them all. I just want to know what's acceptable here.
    – user104
    Commented Mar 5, 2013 at 9:21

I'm going to chime in on y'alls question today. I've asked questions, I've answered questions, & I've spent a lot of my time researching. The site has been very flexible in the list questions; however, a list question can be too simple. I've answered questions that were weak and in my humble opinion I attempted to correct them with my answer. This is a drag when some folks render comments that are dismissive and/or insulting. In other words, the site will lose favor with some of the more knowledgeable Genealogist by allowing that to continue. I can research and answer questions of my own and I know for a fact, that I'll be happy.

I respect everyone on the site and hope the best for it in all things. Y'all will make the best of the site that it is feasibly possible, of that I have no doubt.

  • Hi, Ezri -- do you have an example of the sort of problem questions you refer to?
    – user104
    Commented Apr 17, 2013 at 11:19
  • 1
    Andrew Wilson remains an enigma. It's not that they were rude, but I tried to point out to the person was dismissing my answer that their theory of whom was the Mother was most likely incorrect due to the large age gap. I had spent a little time researching their question and I believe offered a well thought out answer. Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 1:34
  • 2
    You did put a lot of work into that answer; it's unfortunate that the OP didn't appreciate it, but I do hope that isn't typical of this site.
    – user104
    Commented Apr 18, 2013 at 15:52

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