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I see a lot of questions that start out like, "Why does this hyperlink not open in a new window?", and the solution ends up being some typo in the server-side code that is obviously unique to the OP's specific code.

Example: why target="blank" doesn't open a new window

Whether there are valid answers for the question or not, shouldn't it be closed as "too localized" when this is discovered, on the grounds that there is no way a future visitor will benefit?

The reason I ask here is because actually this comprises what seems like a significant percentage of new questions, and I get confused about whether to vote to close for this reason or not.


Another example: Why does this code crash -- it's a legitimate question (just pretend it was framed well for the sake of argument), but should it be closed? I feel bad closing questions like this because there is an answer and someone will help this poor guy, but let's be honest - nobody but the OP will ever benefit from it.

Categorically speaking these are questions which defy classification until the solution is actually found.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

shouldn't it be closed as "too localized" when this is discovered, on the grounds that there is no way a future visitor will benefit?

If there is no correct answer, where the OP explained their actual solution, close it as too localized.

The answers might be helpful, but if the true problem is something really obscure, and the current answers fail to explain this, you'll create a really messy question with even more messy answers.

The general idea of the Stack sites is to generate questions and answers that are useful in a way that the problem described in those questions can theoretically be generalized (i.e. abstracted) from the indeed very localized situation of the OP writing it.

Programming problems are always a bit localized, but normally, you should be able to find out the essential underlying problem.

If that is not the case, go ahead and close it, because there's no way this problem can be reproduced.

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I guess it's obvious, and I won't hesitate so much in using that close reasoning. My fear is that I will throw out a lot more close votes than I did before, but if they are warranted, then so be it. Thanks for clearing it up, along with @kiamlaluno. –  tenfour Oct 24 '11 at 11:20
    
@tenfour Of course, you could ask the OP to write a summary answer, but even then it would be too localized, I guess. –  slhck Oct 24 '11 at 12:15

If the issue is caused by a typo, then the question is effectively too localized to be useful to future users. In such cases, I would vote to close the question as too localized.
If the issue were caused by a misunderstanding about when to use a function, or in which order a group of functions should be called, that would be different.

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Perhaps keeping particularly small aperture questions in their own category. One that is only visible when filtering for at least one of their topic tags, or specifically looking through localized questions.

If an issue is caused by a typo, it should be flagged for re-submission by the OP, and hidden from the main pool pending timed removal. The evaluation of proper meaning from typos isn't as clear cut as would appear, and requires a strong guess of the OPs lexicon. If someone else incorrectly "fixes" the question, it wastes resources, not the least of which the time of people providing well-thought answers to the incorrect question.

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The way I see it, localized questions truly are a sticky issue. Since every question asked is added to the main pool, questions that are too specific may push out more general questions that would help many more visitors. However, if questions are valid, SO is an excellent means to have someone with more expertise see them. In these cases, a "localized" question is precisely the sort that needs expertise. –  Paul Kohler Mar 4 '13 at 20:10

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