We've already had this discussion four years ago, and this discussion three years ago. The first produced Shoq9's opinion to simply disallow them, and the second Torben suggested a single CW style approach.
I'd like to reopen the discussion, in part because the community of now is pretty different from the community of 2012, and in part because I don't like either of these answers - and I want to see if anyone agrees with me.
First, the problem. "Big list" questions are the kinds of questions that ask for a list of things that isn't ever a single concrete list. "What do I need to bring to Kindergarten" really isn't a big list: while there are some variations, it is possible to in one post list all of the things a normal US student brings to kindergarten.
"What is a good book for a three year olds to read" is a big list question. It has the following characteristics:
- Tends to be opinion-based ("What is a good...", "Where can I find good...")
- Asks for something indefinite in quantity (there is no definite quantity of books)
- Isn't so specific as to be easily narrowed to one or a very small number of things.
These questions aren't good fits for the Stack Exchange model, in large part because of the layout of the site. If thirty or forty people leave answers, you can't just easily browse all of those answers - they're split across multiple pages, and there's a lot of white space between them.
However, for some sites, they're a necessary evil. Sites that are more subjective (yup), or sites where the users tend to be less technical (yup), or sites whose topics cater to the concept of lists (yup) need to allow them in some fashion. How... is the $64,000 question.
The common choices for how to handle them range from:
- Disallow them entirely. Most SE sites do, in fact, from my experience. If the question is "What is a list of...", it's closed as too broad, or sometimes unclear what you're asking. This is Shoq9's suggestion in the first linked question.
- Allow them, but require them to be Community Wiki immediately. The top answer collects all "answers" into one answer, becoming that one big list. Advantage: it's easy to read (it's all on one page). Disadvantage: it's impossible to read (it's one big answer). Torben's suggestion was to do this, and he included an example.
- Allow good ones, by some definition, and handle them like normal questions, but otherwise disallow them. Advantage: good questions are enabled, bad ones closed. Disadvantage: you have to stay on top of them moderation-wise.
I'm reopening the discussion because I have seen a few good (and bad) list questions recently, and also because this is one of the areas we can both take advantage of and take a hit in, in terms of trying to improve our question count. A recently updated coherent policy would be a big help here.
In particular, if those of you with experience on other sites who do have different list policies could link to those policies (and their discussions), I think that would be very helpful to getting other ideas for our site.