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Remind me again why we do not allow reference requests? While I can see this as being "not helpful" for a particular idiosyncratic problem, for a general problem ("Best books on the Seven Years War?") answers would be useful for the general public. Is this a Stack Exchange policy, or just the policy of the site?

I guess I understand the basic motivation, which is that a reference opinion is at some level always an opinion (although I guess you could say that about any historical "consensus" as well), so there is no single answer. However, there are useful answers that have an opinion component and I guess I don't see what is wrong with having multiple answers.

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    You might want to search meta - I think there are at least four questions that address this topic. In summary, reference requests are ephemeral (the answer changes with time), opinion based (Different people have legitimate different opinions on which is the best reference), and generally wind up encouraging homework questions or discussion questions. We've changed the rules to permit requests for canonical references. I think we could change then again if we can find a way to maintain quality questions. – Mark C. Wallace Oct 27 '15 at 0:10
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    "...reference requests are ephemeral (the answer changes with time), opinion based (Different people have legitimate different opinions on which is the best reference)..." I would suggest that the "stacks" format actually reduces these unavoidable variables. You know online what you are getting has a shelf life, and multiple answers help you judge consensus (or not) for yourself. If you are an outsider looking for, say, a book on the "origins of nations" you could read for months without ever hearing of Herder or Benedict Anderson, which would quickly pop up in stacks, for better or worse. – Nelson Alexander Dec 21 '15 at 3:15
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    Reference requests are standard, if not extremely frequent, on two stackexchange sites on which I am experienced. I was surprised to find they're frowned on here. I asked whether there are any good books on the topic of admission of new states to the Union. I wonder if the reasons given here for disallowing reference requests would apply to that? – Michael Hardy Apr 1 '16 at 19:24

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