An updated response
In the past couple days, I asked some of the more experienced mods and SE employees about what's going on with journal questions. Opinion was divided, making it sound like these questions are sort of a corner case of list-type questions. The impression I get from the community (based on the current 8-2 total) is that we're going to allow these sorts of questions. Based on that response, here's my take on things:
For starters, DavidKetcheson is right: some questions legitimately have lists as answers. Opinion questions (that ask for lists) for which there are "no" wrong answers (or rather, that allow a wide range of admissible answers) are definitely not suited to the SE format. They allow too much in the way "me too" answers that don't add much to the discussion, even though it's possible to have really good answers. However, questions like, "What languages are most common in computational science?" or "What are good numerical linear algebra books?" do have factual lists as answers, and thus, are reasonable questions on their face.
However, I believe we as a community need to be careful. A good answer to a recommendation question has some of the following characteristics:
- It states reasonable recommendations (e.g., "Green Eggs and Ham" is not an answer to "What are good numerical linear algebra books?", but Trefethen and Bau is a reasonable recommendation).
- It justifies each recommendation in some way. (e.g., Trefethen and Bau is a good linear algebra book because it gives a broad overview of numerical algebra in a clear, expository format. Breaking the book up into lectures makes it easy for self-study, and the examples they use often shed a new light on familiar concepts.) Sometimes, grouping recommendations can be okay; it depends.
- It provides links where appropriate
What I liked about the answers to the software question was that the better answers of that question had links, as well as paragraphs justifying the response with quotes from the aims and scope of the journals, or personal experience (either reading the journal, or experience submitting to the journal), and those justifications really put the recommendations into context. What I didn't like about some of the answers to that question was that they were a sentence or two stating that software was in the aims and scope for the journal recommended (in whatever subfield).
In that vein, I'm more inclined to think that a journal question is not a list question if answers tell me:
- Again, reasonable recommendations.
- Something about the quality of the journal. Is it prestigious? Is it terrible? (I think it's fine, although perhaps impolitic, to recommend NOT to submit to a particular journal in a given subfield.) Is it widely-known, or is it more obscure?
- Who reads the journal? Is it a general audience journal, or limited to specialists? What disciplines do they come from?
- What kinds of articles are in the journal? Are they more applications-based? Are they more methods-based? Do the journals require computational results? Do the journals allow proofs? Are articles shorter (a few pages) or longer (10-20 pages, or more)?
- Does the journal allow you to post pre-prints or post-prints on the arXiv? Do they allow supplemental material?
- If I want to submit something, how long will it take them to turn around a review?
I say all of this because I too want to know what journals to read, and I've learned that not all journals are equal. Merely getting a list of journals doesn't help me (and it probably doesn't help anyone else), because my time (like everyone else's) is limited. If an expert tells me in what situations and why I should read a journal, I'm much more likely to actually try and read it than if they don't, and their answer is profoundly more valuable. If they give me a list without any of that information, it's virtually worthless to me, because they've given me no context. With minimal effort (a Google search), I could probably cobble together a list that answers the question. With some effort, I could probably answer some of the questions I posed about journals (read the aims and scope, skim some articles, hunt down the impact factor). To actually get an expert opinion on a journal I initially know nothing about would take considerable effort, and I think those expert opinions are most likely to be valuable and save people time.
If a lot of the answers are short, or lists without justification, I'm much more likely to comment that I think the question isn't constructive, because it isn't a good example of what the SE sites can do when they reach their full potential. I think the answers to the PDE question could be better, and I think for these questions to have useful answers, the moderators (myself included) are going to have to keep an eye on them to make sure that we have good answers that are valuable for people.
I'll also move to wikify any journal question.