What are some good resources for improving communication skills?

It is an on topic request I think but in general I dislike the list requests. They are ripe for piling on and there is no one right answer.

So the question is: Are we going to allow them, and the potential blight they bring with them, here?

2 Answers 2


My inclination is NO, for all the reasons you've mentioned, plus the fact that questions asking for a list of "things" are really just a variation on shopping questions which are pretty much universally awful.

A question asking about techniques, methods, procedures, policies, etc. to address a specific problem are a better way to ask these kinds of questions, and the answers can include references to relevant resources (as long as they answer the question and are not just a link to some external resource)

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    Sounds reasonable. Basically, I think a "How can I do X" question is always going to be better than "What are some resources for X", and may still get some of the same resource links but with more full answers.
    – weronika
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 4:52
  • I am ok with a request for references to specific studies since generally they are a much smaller dataset assuming its not something like anything that every had to do with the workplace. Generally the question should be focused on a specific problem and have a reason for needing the reference. IE to provide as support to management per their process. Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 12:50
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    Focused question or specific problem is not sufficient condition. See this question for example. Not quite useful. Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 13:10
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    @Chad It depends on the question, but I'm generally OK with someone stating in their question that they would like some kind of evidence/study/etc. to back up answers (like you said, you often need it to convince your manager you're right). In some cases though questions on Workplace might actually become the references, especially if the site does well :-)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 18:02

This is usually site to site differing. I think DSP.SE allows this, where as in the Programmers.SE it is considered not-constructive.

This looks like an apparent contradiction but the utility might change. In case of DSP, one is usually referring to set of papers - and doing google search for papers even if easy, only when someone has read some of these paper himself/herself does it make sense to recommend. No one really reads tons of research papers unless you are following some citations or special recommendations - so this makes perfect sense here.

In case of Programmers.Se -if i ask what is your favorite book on design pattern? and you know you are now beating the Amazon's recommendation engine. It's just waste of time there. Though it is not completely banned there as well, it depends on the questions.

So essentially, for every site value of these references do make a difference.

In case of workplace, i think we are dealing with generalized subject matter even more than programmers; so allowing "my favorite books is ____" will collect huge crowd but not value.

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    If you ask "what is your favorite book on design pattern?", you'll get an onslaught of down votes, but if you ask "Is there a canonical book on design patterns?" you'd be on topic (ok, if you ask it now it'd be closed as a dupe). We welcome some book questions, but they have to be about specialized topics, not just what's your favourite...
    – yannis
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 18:38
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    My big problem with lists is when they get out of date. Some "give me a reference" questions will never have that problem (the way K&R is THE reference book for C, or Parkinson's Law is/should be required reading for all managers), others will. Solid references are an exception to the guideline.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 26, 2012 at 18:58

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