I have seen several questions asking for references that someone (or more than one) has marked as too broad. E.g. https://stats.stackexchange.com/review/close/190889 asks for references about using machine learning to build a trading portfolio.

I fully agree this would be too broad if the OP was asking for a solution to the problem, but he/she is not; they just want a place to get started.

I don't see how this is too broad, but perhaps I am missing something.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ +1. FWIW, "machine language" usually refers to the bytecode language used to control processing units, as opposed to "machine learning," which is what the referenced question asks about. $\endgroup$
    – whuber Mod
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks. I copied the word down wrong and have fixed it. But it's just an example. $\endgroup$
    – Peter Flom
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 13:27
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ That one seem OK but I have marked as too broad ones which give no idea of (a) what the OP already knows, (b) what background they have in statistics, mathematics, the underlying science, (c) what searches they have already undertaken and why what they found was unsatisfactory. $\endgroup$
    – mdewey
    Commented Jun 14, 2018 at 14:29
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I voted to close the example question since it is imo unclear whether the reference should be about ML for trading strategies, about supervised learning for continuous targets, about online learning of the strategy while trading, etc. (so "too many possible answers" from Glen_b's answer). And I don't think reference requests should ask for "pieces of code". However, should this perhaps be "unclear what you're asking" rather than "too broad"? $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 15, 2018 at 13:21

1 Answer 1


A reference request could be too broad. For example, some reference requests would run into the "too many possible answers" criterion for being overly broad.

As such, askers of such requests should take care to do what they can to narrow the scope of their question (e.g. make it clear what they know and what they need, for example, so that a book of about the right level and scope may be suggested).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Multiple possible answers is no longer a valid reason to close a question, yet this problem seems to persist. See here: stats.stackexchange.com/questions/604996/… is this a case of "Needs more details or clarity"? $\endgroup$
    – AdamO
    Commented Feb 10, 2023 at 18:22

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .