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Are general sightseeing questions on-topic on The Great Outdoors?

For example, a recent question, which the author deleted, asked about how many covered bridges people could drive across in Maine, USA. It would not have occurred to me to ask it on this site, so despite having spent some years here I'm still confused about the scope.

Which one of the following hypothetical questions would be on-topic or off-topic, and why (notwithstanding other good/bad question criteria)?

  • Where can I find old, wooden churches in southeastern Sweden?
  • Is there a list of roadside art in Flevoland, Netherlands?
  • Where can I find a list of the locations of all works in the Swedish Solar System model?
  • What high (above treeline) mountain roads are publicly accessible in Troms, Norway?
  • More peaceful alternative to Stonehenge in England?
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    In your scenario, would How many trees in California can you drive through? be considered a sightseeing question? Thanks. – Sue May 18 '17 at 1:44
  • The first three seem marginal to me. The last two seem definitely on topic, particularly the last. You are visiting an outdoor archaeological site probably with astronomical significance, build by people highly attuned to the outdoors and whose working life was mostly outdoors. – ab2 May 18 '17 at 4:01
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    @Sue I would go on a limb and say that outdoors question would involve some activity considered 'outdoorsy' (hiking, climbing, rafting, fishing et al) than just going and visiting a place and asking for the places to visit. I might be terribly wrong, but then, the travel SE becomes mute if we consider anything done outside as an outdoors SE question. – Ricketyship May 18 '17 at 5:51
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    I suggest you guys avoid travel recommendation questions just like on Travel.SE. It's all primarily opinion based and not a good fit for the site. I would also avoid stuff that is 100% Travel.SE territory. So only question #4 would be somewhat on-topic. – JonathanReez May 18 '17 at 10:09
  • I would like to post an answer to this subject on the weekend when I have more time and after some reflection. – Ken Graham May 18 '17 at 12:24
  • @Sue I think so. I'd probably have asked that question on Travel, but rather because I personally don't experience driving as an outdoors activity (it feels like I'm indoors when I'm in a car). See also Is on-road driving on-topic? (which you have seen already). – gerrit May 18 '17 at 13:22
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    I am not on TravelSE, and not at all familiar with their rules and scope. It might be worth comparing/ contrasting which of the example question would be on- or off-topic over there. – cobaltduck May 18 '17 at 14:39
  • @cobaltduck I've been on Travel for a long time and I think they're all on-topic (but they're not all good questions). – gerrit May 18 '17 at 14:43
  • gerrit, Thanks for your opinion about the tree question. I've been looking through the sightseeing questions at Travel. My initial impression is that a number are similar to what we have here, which helps me understand why you asked this question. Also, a lot of Travel's posts in general seem opinion and experience based, which is the same here. There are also lots of price recommendations. I'm not judging, just mentioning it for the people who are reading this. Okay, time for more research! – Sue May 18 '17 at 18:38
  • There's a question asked by gerrit about the criteria for deciding on-topic and off-topic questions. I agree with the answer given by imsodin on that question. If we are a small community of experts on outdoors, we should remain so. In order to attract a larger crowd, we cannot and should not dilute our original content. It's ok to be a small community where we learn from each others' experiences. @Sue Thanks for taking the discussion in the right spirit. Appreciate it greatly! – Ricketyship May 19 '17 at 5:30
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    Also, Sue has a valid point. If the question about covered bridges is a sightseeing one (which I feel it is), would this not be a sightseeing one as well? I would say we have to go and close that as well. – Ricketyship May 19 '17 at 12:01
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    @Ricketyship Although trees are a more natural phenomenon than bridges, drive-through trees are not really (and are frankly ridiculous), so I would agree with you. – gerrit May 19 '17 at 16:29
  • @gerrit I've requested to close the question. It's good that we are debating these things to keep the community active and focused. – Ricketyship May 20 '17 at 6:49
  • @Ricketyship and gerrit, I appreciate that closing the trees question was as valid as closing the bridge question. Ricketyship, I especially like the way you wrote that reason for the close-vote. It's perfect, and can work for a number of the gray area things we're trying to deal with. I do wish we had some more input here, and hope more people will join us! – Sue May 20 '17 at 23:06
  • @Sue Thanks for being open to a discussion on this. We as a community need to define some boundaries (I know there's a lot of disagreement on the need for boundaries as well, eg: this check the comments on Liam's answer). However, I personally believe that unless we define boundaries, we will end up driving the real enthusiasts and experts away :) – Ricketyship May 22 '17 at 7:01
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As a rule, are questions about general sightseeing on-topic?

I believe that this is one of those questions which is grey in matter and may or may not be on topic? That said, I sense many of these questions should be considered off topic.

Valid sightseeing should not be an invitation to basic trivia style questions. An example of that was a recent question, which was deleted by its author, asking which covered bridges could be driven across in Maine, United States. They should also not just involve simply numbers, like (How many trees are there in California you can drive through?) These type of questions, in general, do not add any real quality to our sight and could be an open invitation to some generally watered down questions about The Great Outdoors.

As already mentioned in the comments questions about sightseeing are on topic at Travel SE which as to date has some 228 sightseeing questions and would be a more reasonable place for more trivia like questions than here.

Valid questions about sightseeing in The Great Outdoors must refrain from any sightseeing questions at a distance. In other words sightseeing while driving on any major highway (such as a Freeways, Interstate Highways, Motorways and so on) which in general should be looked at as simply high volume access routes for vehicles. It is just too open a subject for this site.

Good sightseeing questions must be limited to a particular area or region and should not include large portions of any country such as the entire state of California and must be limited in someway to the thrill of being outdoors and enjoying nature as in more remote areas and smaller states such as Maine.

My wife has mobility issues we both love the outdoors, so I can see how this question could be of interest in disability-options.

Some examples of possible good sightseeing questions:

  • What high (above the tree line) mountain roads are publicly accessible in Troms, Norway?

  • Are there any good areas near Prince George, BC, where one could get an occasion to enjoy watching mountain sheep while driving to the Yukon?

  • Are there any parks where one needs a permit to drive through for sightseeing purposes?

  • Do any general driving only sightseeing parks exist near Paris, France?

In conclusion, general sightseeing question should be on topic, but must not be too general in nature or simply too trivial, even when used as a disability option.

  • Hi Ken! As the author of the covered bridge question, I've become confused because it now has two reopen votes. I don't know how to find out who they are, unless I leave a comment there. Are you saying that if I changed it to something more narrow, it could work here? – Sue May 20 '17 at 16:32
  • @Sue Yes, questions must be limited in someway to the thrill of being outdoors and enjoying nature as in more remote areas and smaller states such as Maine. (The size of the State of Maine is only an example here and may need further clarification by others). – Ken Graham May 20 '17 at 17:03
  • I'm still trying to clarify more of your thinking, not saying the community, or even I, agree. So, by your criteria, Thinking about a road trip out West would be off-topic, right? It's asking for things to see during a "road trip" across 5 states. It includes camping and hiking, but it's still a sight-seeing question (and even includes the word). It's also too broad, but that's not the part that concerns me for the purpose of this discussion. – Sue May 20 '17 at 23:17
  • Ken, I've deleted the bridge question. I tried to make an edit here which still got your point across even though there's no longer a question to link it to. If I can further help improve your answer, let me know, or feel free to edit in anything you didn't like about that question that people might have learned if they could have read it. I apologize for any trouble caused by deleting the question. Thanks! – Sue May 24 '17 at 2:50
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If the question is primarily about the outdoors it is in scope. The examples mostly focus on man made objects, so the test here is does the object facilitate outdoor access or usage? If yes = In scope. If no = Out of scope.

  • Where can I find old, wooden churches in southeastern Sweden?
    • Out of scope: a question about buildings (man made structure that does not facilitate outdoor access or usage)
  • Is there a list of roadside art in Flevoland, Netherlands?
    • Out of scope: a question about Art (man made stuff that does not facilitate outdoor access or usage)
  • Where can I find a list of the locations of all works in the Swedish Solar System model?
    • Out of scope: a question about Art/science (man made structure that does not facilitate outdoor access or usage)
  • What high (above treeline) mountain roads are publicly accessible in Troms, Norway?
    • In scope: a question about buildings (man made structure that DOES facilitate outdoor access or usage)
  • More peaceful alternative to Stonehenge in England?
    • Out of scope: a question about Art/science (man made structure that does not facilitate outdoor access or usage)
  • Question about covered bridges location?
    • In scope: a question about buildings (man made structure that DOES facilitate outdoor access or usage)

The existence of a sister SE site (i.e. Travel.SE) has no bearing on our scope. Our scope is the outdoors and a question is either in or out of scope here, nothing else matters.

  • I always struggle with accepting the last statement, but I ultimately have to accept that it makes sense. However I still think it is reasonable to have the scope of travel.SE in mind and potentially even direct an "asker" there, if a questions is more likely to get good answers or just "fits better" there (not closing, just informing by commenting), – imsodin May 28 '17 at 18:18
  • @imsodin I definitely see your point. I wasn't viewing it from the perspective of suggesting that the "asker" might want to try the other site. That isn't saying it's off-topic here, just offering the person a place where they may get better answers. I think that's a courtesy, not a criticism of the question or the person who asked it, so it's a good thing for us to keep in mind. I think I'll be more diligent about that. Thanks for the reminder! – Sue May 31 '17 at 21:09

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