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The question Need a reputable source for the formula for the shape of Earth's horizon is solely seeking a source for a known formula, rather than asking for explanation or derivation of that formula.

There is already tentative consensus that the answer is no to Are questions asking for off-site resources on topic? Does seeking a reputable source for a known formula count as asking for off-site resources? Is tracking down original sources for computer graphics algorithms and formulae on topic?

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This kinds of questions are not generally good questions. The reason is that the purpose of stackexhange is to make comprehensive self contained answers as well as questions. Since this question itself only asks for a link its in direct contradiction with the purpose of stackexhange. How on earth is the person answering going to be able to fulfill the requirements of answering?

  • The litmus test here is that if the answer itself is going to be something we are going to consider a comment then the question is also wrong.

So while the question is good, no question about it. It meets all the other requirements of doing self research etc. It fails to fulfill the spirit of stackexhange as I see it.

That said I'm currently giving this question question the benefit of doubt. Its just that I am afraid that there is going to be very few people who are going to catch this question as its way too specific and requires me to do something i can not effectively do in other ways as to be a googling service for you.

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  • $\begingroup$ Also, another litmus test: will the question still be relevant (e.g. link not broken) in X amount of years. $\endgroup$ – Qix Feb 4 '16 at 6:12
  • $\begingroup$ @Qix yes, but in this case reputable would be scientific publication, which should be quite reliable. But who knows how the future will play out. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Feb 4 '16 at 8:11
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I am the asker of the question at issue. I believe my question is indeed on topic, for the following reasons:

  1. As far as I understand, stackexchange concerns (among other things) academic research. Finding relevant academic references is an important aspect of academic research.

  2. The main reservations expressed in the Are questions asking for off-site resources on topic? post concern the risk that such questions would "attract opinionated answers and spam" and that they would be too "nonspecific." It seems to me that asking for an (any) academic reference that cites a specific fact carries no such risks. Either there is such a reference, or there isn't.

  3. In fact, asking for an academic reference for a specific known fact is not at all like asking for a resource. The asker doesn't need that reference to do some other task. There is no unstated underlying problem that the asker is acually interested in solving. There is no underlying problem such that if someone here helped him solve that problem, this would render the request for an off-site resource a moot point. On the contrary, locating a reference is the underlying problem. It is needed for its own sake, rather than to resolve some other issue.

  4. The fact that is being requested is exactly the kind of fact that an expert in computer graphics might well be uniquely qualified to know. And if the expert does know it, the answer will be definitive and brief.

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  • $\begingroup$ Dufferent sites have different requirement. Only a few of the sites are concerned with academic affairs. $\endgroup$ – joojaa Jan 30 '16 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that this meta question should be treated independently from the one about off site resources, and this site was founded with computer graphics programmers and researchers in mind, so academics are definitely expected to form part of our community. I really can't judge this - it will be interesting to see what the community decides. $\endgroup$ – trichoplax Jan 31 '16 at 0:32

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