Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 158 Stack Exchange communities.

What is meta?
Here's how it works:
  1. Any Stack Exchange user can ask a question
  2. The community provides support, votes on ideas, and reports bugs
  3. Your voice helps shape the way Stack Exchange operates

For some SE sites, adding a geographical location to questions would make a lot of sense. Namely, Travel.SE (where localized questions are explicitly allowed) and the new Outdoors.SE (ditto).

It would work just like the "Location" field in your profile: You can enter a region*, or a specific location.

Once enough data has been collected, there is a plentitude of things that one could do with it:

  • Most obviously, displaying a huge, cool Google Map.

  • Providing map layers for Google Earth and the like.

  • Providing layers for mobile applications.

  • a "Questions on places near you" feature

Random examples:

*: Entering a region (that is a rectangle or polygon instead of an exact lat/lon location) creates the question how to deal with them visually later - the most straightforward thing to plot on a map is coordinates; displaying areas is much harder. Maybe the range of options would have to be limited to either specifying a country name, or a lat/lon coordinate. You could then later list the per-country questions, and display everything else as dots on the map.

share|improve this question
hmm I wonder if there's a way to use the location based tags in some way , [london] and [russia] in your examples – Some Helpful Commenter Jan 24 '12 at 20:48
@Conrad I thought of the same thing, but I think it would create a huge mess - you'd have loads of place, region, country and continent name tags, and no reliable way to geocode them – Pëkka Jan 24 '12 at 20:49
gardening might also benefit from this. Questions about winterhardiness, plant identification, and timing of planting/blooming/harvest are all highly location-specific. – Kate Gregory Jan 24 '12 at 21:04
@Kate good point. Gardening might specifically benefit from specifying regions – Pëkka Jan 24 '12 at 21:05
Gardening's US users would probably benefit with both the USDA Hardiness Zones and the Sunset climate zones. Both zone systems are in wide use on plant information sheets, nursery growing and planting guides, and university extension programs. I don't know if these zone systems have good international equivalents. (Which is important if you're going to be farming reputation points in Germany.) – sarnold Jan 25 '12 at 1:18
Certainly for travel, a tag hierarchy for location tags seems obvious; but that concept has been generally disfavoured here on meta... – AakashM Jan 25 '12 at 9:53
Travel.SE does allow questions about specific locations but it does not allow questions which are "too localized" by Stack Exchange's definition of that term. – hippietrail Jan 25 '12 at 12:51
Hierarchies sound good and makes sense for travel.SE in a way, but I feel they are much harder to implement and to get right than plain old lists. Look at categories on Wikipedia for an example of somewhere hierarchies seem logical but just cannot work as things currently are there. – hippietrail Jan 25 '12 at 13:00
Gardening would definitely make good use of this. We have been looking for some way to add location easily to questions for some time now. – wax eagle Jan 25 '12 at 14:55

This is a great idea!

I would like to add that at least in the case of travel.SE that some questions specifically include more than one specific location so some ways to implement it may be better. I'm thinking:

  • list of geotags per QA

  • list of geotags per post, ie ability to apply them to each answer as well as the question

  • geotag in markup. Much like we can select a section of text to apply a URL to we could also apply a geotag to a selection of text so we can tag each location, site, etc right where it is mentioned in the post

share|improve this answer

A "region" could possibly be as simple as a pair of coordinates that are the topLeft-bottomRight corners of a rectangle. It constrains areas/regions to just a simple rectangle, but it's much less complex than political or geographic regions from a "shape" standpoint.

I'm not sure having such a simple "region" is all that useful, unfortunately, but it may be a good balance between simplicity and functionality.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

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