As we know, there are many books that explain how to write a compiler/interpreter in depth that are usually geared towards beginners. Though they usually have sufficient explanation surrounding each line of code, there naturally could be questions about the specific design choices made or requests for further explanation of the given code.

Some example questions may be:

  1. In X book, what function does the following // Example Code Block have?
  2. Why has X book chosen to include Y feature over Z?

Are these types of questions, where the poster asks about the content of specific books, on topic? They have the potential to make broad or opinion based questions, though occasionally there may be a valid question that pops up that leads to relevant discussion.

Question 2 may definitely have an objective answer that could help in understanding compiler/interpreter implementation better though Question 1 is merely an 'explain this' question.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe we need a product-recommendations tag? $\endgroup$
    – Adám
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ It's not so much about asking for recommendations on certain books but asking specific (or not so specific) questions about those books. I've edited the title now; it should be more clear. $\endgroup$ Commented May 29, 2023 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Wow, I completely missed that. And even with the new title, it took me several read-throughs to make the question body mean what the title is asking. Maybe have a go at making the body text clearer? $\endgroup$
    – Adám
    Commented May 29, 2023 at 12:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Every September, without fail, CS.se gets at least a couple of questions asking specific questions about TaPL. You have been warned; we're probably going to get that here too. cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/tapl $\endgroup$
    – Pseudonym
    Commented May 30, 2023 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


Questions must be answerable

If the question unanswerable without the source material and the source material is not freely available online then the question is likely off topic.

Perhaps an exception might be made for academic papers behind a paywall.

However, if enough detail is provided for the question to be answerable and the question itself is on topic we should allow them.

Q1 above lacks sufficient context

Q2 asks us to second guess why an author thinks one feature is more important than another. That seems a more reasonable question provided we could answer it as a pro/cons style question about feature X versus feature Y. In that sense the reference may be superflous.


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