Most of us are regularly searching for reliable and decent sources such as books that clearly explain new topics. Due to the abundance of sources it is more likely to get lost than finding the right source right away. For instance, Google for sources on column generations or branch-and-cut and you will find thousands of books, websites, and lectures slides.

Should we provide overviews of high quality sources on some of the main OR topics such as MIPs, branch-and-cut, and MDPs? And if yes, should we do this with questions or with community wikis?

Edit: this question differs from enter link description here as that question is on the scope of resources such as tools and solvers.

Update: To express your opinion about whether we should consider such questions as on or off topic, please post an answer or vote on one. To express your opinion about whether this question is a good question, please vote on the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Michiel, I removed the multiple polling-style answers you posted in favor of an open discussion. If you have thoughts on the issue, please please feel free to post it as an answer; but it is generally better to let everyone have a voice in meta to express their own opinions rather pre-posting all sides of the conversation yourself. It's not difficult to infer what the community wants from the conversation while allowing for the possibility that there's an issue we have not considered. Polling is generally not a good substitute for discussion. Thanks. $\endgroup$ Commented May 31, 2019 at 23:34
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    $\begingroup$ Note that use of community wiki in general is not recommended, see also here. $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 1, 2019 at 17:45

1 Answer 1


No, I don't think we should.

Stack Exchange works well for questions and answers, but it doesn't have features for things like polls, and I think book reviews could end up becoming polls on how good a source is. Also, how good a book or resource is is mostly opinion-based, and these are discouraged network-wide, except for certain questions on meta sites.

Lastly, I just don't think it would be all that useful to have book/online resource reviews because:

  1. Stack Exchange doesn't support polling, so the layout would end up being unusual and probably confusing. The closest we could really do is post (community wiki) answers for every resource and vote on them, but even then there's only upvoting, downvoting, and not voting, instead of 1 star, 2 star, etc.

  2. People usually expect reviews to be attached to the book's official webpage, so many people might not actually find our review on OR.

  3. Because many people (probably) won't end up discovering our review on OR, they wouldn't be able to vote on it, so we would not have votes from a very wide group of people. Even for the people who do find it, it takes 15 reputation to upvote and 125 reputation to downvote posts on public beta/launched sites, and I would guess very few people would be willing to create an account and gain reputation just to vote on the quality of a resource.

So basically, I don't think this is a good idea because the resource reviews we'd make would end up being confusing, hard to find, and would have few votes on them, which overall would make them pretty non-useful. Book/paper/other resource reviews are important, but Operations Research and the rest of Stack Exchange are the wrong places to do it.

  • $\begingroup$ I completely agree with your view. However, I did not had polling or reviewing books in my mind, but more question like book recommendations: "I just start learning approximate dynamic programming. Which books or other sources should I read?" $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Michiel okay, I misunderstood. I'll edit now... $\endgroup$
    – Picachieu
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 17:28
  • $\begingroup$ Feel free to edit my question too! Would be appreciated:) $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @Michiel I do think this would end up a little like a poll with all the mostly-opinion-based voting, but hopefully the edit I just made should help address the question a little better. $\endgroup$
    – Picachieu
    Commented Jun 3, 2019 at 17:34

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