14

There are a few questions which I feel may be too localized, but I'm not quite ready to use the close vote. A few examples.

Are there beaches on the East Coast (US) where one can camp without a permit?

Where in Europe is wild camping permitted?

Are there any cheap 1:25K electronic maps for the UK or Europe?

Can I sail a raft on a European river with commercial traffic?

Is it legal to camp on private property in Russia?

Where in the Alps is it safe to drink the water without filtering?

What is the general consensus as to what constitutes too localized for The Great Outdoors?

  • Ha. I just asked a similar question about both tagging conventions and too localized. I'll delete the stuff in my question about too localized so we can keep that discussion separate (here in your question). – Laura Jan 24 '12 at 23:16
  • 1
    I don't see that any of those questions are too localised - however, I think that some of them are in danger of generating long lists of answers (oh, you can drink the water in x valley - for about 50 different x) – HorusKol Jan 25 '12 at 1:21
  • 1
    If an entire continent (ie, Europe) is too localized then what isn't? Same for Russia (omg, that's a big area). – Russell Steen Feb 4 '12 at 19:25
  • For a list of questions closed as too localised, Google is our friend. The list contains only two questions at the moment. – gerrit Nov 3 '12 at 14:31
22

None of those questions are too localized. It's a common misconception that I need to dispel early on. A lot of uses will come to ask very specific questions about specific destinations. That's awesome! We don't close localized questions, we close questions that are "TOO" localized.

So what does "too localized" mean?

I'm going to repost an answer from Skeptics SE because it exemplifies the misconceptions about "too localized."

https://skeptics.meta.stackexchange.com/a/547/32

I disagree that these particular questions are "too localized." The Stack Exchange UI is not very good at explaining what this reason means.

"Too localized" should be used for very tiny geographic regions or vanishingly small periods of time. It is used when a question cannot possibly be answered because nobody participating in the site is likely to know the answer, and even if it were answered, nobody else would care.

For me, the canonical "too localized" question would be:

Why is there a green Honda Civic parked out in front of my house?

This is too localized because:

  1. Who cares?
  2. Is it even still there? Go check.
  3. What are the chances that this question could ever be answered in a way that would benefit anyone else?
  4. Now is it there?

I have been dismayed to see knee-jerk closing of questions as "too localized" throughout Stack Exchange simply because they mention a time span or because they mention a geography. I think some people have misunderstood this close reason to mean ... "anything time-bound or location-bound must be closed."

In this particular case the Sklivvz reasonably thought that the questions are too localized in time because they reflect constantly changing knowledge or rapidly changing events.

This would be a valid concern, however, Stack Exchange was specifically designed to adapt well to rapidly-changing events. That's why it has Wiki features. Like Wikipedia, we are not content to wait for the first historians to write the book. We're happy to answer questions in the context of what is true today, knowing that as facts change, the answers can easily be edited or replaced.

  • "Where did the deer I just shot fall?" "When did my companions decide to rendezvous?" etc. – Shog9 Jan 25 '12 at 2:18
  • 1
    @Shog9 - Big difference between questions that will definitely never be useful to anyone ever again, and those that have a small base of users to whom they may be useful – berry120 Feb 1 '12 at 0:15
  • @berry: the size of the difference is pretty close to the size of that base of users. South-central Wisconsin turkey bow hunters vs. you & your hunting party, etc. – Shog9 Feb 1 '12 at 1:17
  • 1
    @Shog9 But if that's still information that could be useful to south-central wisconsin turkey bow hunters (and it can't be sensibly broadened) what's there to lose by keeping it there? It might only benefit a small number of users but it is benefiting them - and it's doing no harm to anyone else. – berry120 Feb 1 '12 at 1:20
  • @berry: sure - that's a small base of users who are probably worth catering to. You and your buddies last Saturday is also a small (much, much smaller) base of users, but in this case probably too small to cater to specifically. – Shog9 Feb 1 '12 at 1:45
  • 1
    @Shog9 Ah sorry, I think I mis-read your first comment - I thought you meant that was a group also not worth catering for. If I understand correctly now then I agree! – berry120 Feb 1 '12 at 1:54
7

Just my £0.02 - I wouldn't say any of those questions were too localised personally - specialist, specific, somewhat localised questions are good because they enable precise answers.

If it was unlikely that anyone would ever need the answer to those questions I'd agree they were too localised but as far as I can see that's not the case - I for one could use an extensive list of wild camping spots in Europe for instance!

  • What about questions regarding specific states in the US, or their international equivalents? Specific cities? "That trail down by the spring just across the bridge" would obviously be too localized, I'm trying to identify that line. – Timothy Strimple Jan 24 '12 at 23:36
  • The line for me would be locations within specific towns / villages - but not wider areas like counties / states or national parks. If you were talking about a specific beach for instance, I'd say that was too localised - beaches in a state or beaches in a county, not so. – berry120 Jan 24 '12 at 23:43
6

Recall that on the proposal page, there was a fairly highly upvoted announcement (+27) about this:

I think that geographically-specific questions are perfectly appropriate, as long as they are tagged as such. Think of how Stack Overflow is so successful in having vary narrowly-targeted programming questions, about obscure languages. I think that same success will probably apply to this audience as well.

I agree with this, we should err on the side of inclusion.

Now, let's look at the scope of the particular questions you mentioned.

  • Are there beaches on the East Coast (US) to camp without a permit?
    • Applies to anyone who likes the outdoors and lives on the fairly heavily populated East Coast, as well as anyone likely to visit there, a nontrivial number.
  • Where in Europe is wild camping permitted?
    • All of Europe? Sounds good.
  • Are there any cheap 1:25K electronic maps for the UK or Europe? -I'm not sure what 1:25K is, but it sounds like this applies to all of Europe again.
  • Is it legal to camp on private property in Russia?
    • Russia's an awfully big country, and beyond its native inhabitants, I'd imagine there are people who would go there for vacation and benefit from this information.
  • Where in the Alps is it safe to drink the water without filtering?
    • Getting more localized, but the Alps are a large and well-known mountain range, and a popular tourist destination. Sounds fine to me.
  • Can I sail a raft on an European river with commercial traffic?
    • I can see how some people might see this as too localized. However, consider this: is sailing a raft on-topic? It's an outdoors activity, so I'd argue so. Now, given that, what's the scope of the question? All rivers in Europe with commercial traffic.

So, all these questions should remain open. It's difficult to make rules to govern something like this, so until we do agree on some, I suggest we be very conservative about closing questions for this.

4

If the answers to the question would be useful to a local outdoorsman, the question should stand.

  • So me asking about trails specifically in my neck of the woods wouldn't be too localized? They could be useful to people in the greater LA hiking area. What about the same question to someone who lives in Alaska? It's the same question, but the number of people it could pertain to would be considerably smaller. – Timothy Strimple Jan 24 '12 at 23:39
  • 1
    I think, in both cases, the question would be fine. If an Alaskan hiking question is asked and answered, it's still a valuable resource to users external to our stackexchange. – mendota Jan 24 '12 at 23:44
4

Stackoverflow prided itself on specific technical questions, so my initial thought would be some loose metric like how many people visit the place annually. For example, I think questions relating to Isle Royale National Park in lake superior, such as details about the ferries, or what kind of animals/insects live there, wouldn't be too localized. Isle Royale is visited by only about 15,000 people per year, the least of all the United States national parks.

So, I'd think that if at least 10,000 people visit a given area annually, that's probably a reasonable metric to extrapolate how much of it is useful to others.

I think it scales more with visitorship more so than acreage, because asking something very specific to say one of Yellowstone's geysers is obviously very localized, however its visited by so many people yearly, that it could be a reasonable question.

  • 2
    I like the logic behind this, but I'm afraid it might be a little unreasonable to expect people to find out the number of annual visitors to their location before asking a question about it. – Laura Jan 25 '12 at 0:13
1

What about even more localized? Such as, "Is a guide required to climb Mt. Cotopaxi?" or "Is it reasonably safe to climb Granite Peak, WY without a rope?"

  • 2
    Going by Robert's answer, that's probably fine, as long as "Mt. Cotopaxi" isn't a hill in your backyard. – Kevin Feb 4 '12 at 2:15

You must log in to answer this question.

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