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My mother brought me up1 to believe that a question on Stack Overflow that is so narrow as to pertain only to one individual's trivial typo, or failure to spot a trivial typo, is cause for the question to be closed as too localised. It can never help anybody else.

That is, Stack Overflow is not a crowdsourced debugging application.

I've seen plenty of support for this stance in the past (for example: Stack Overflow has too many "too localised" new questions). But, unfortunately, the FAQ is not and has never really been clear on this.

In this instance, a hyper-high-rep user seems to disagree completely:

I disagree with your use of a close vote -- a typo is not "too localized". Please be more prudent and judicious in your use of close votes.

A screenshot of the linked question

So, simply, am I wrong about this close vote reason? If so, what does "too localised" mean?

I mean, don't tell me it actually means that a question has to be literally relate to a three-foot-square geographic area in order to fulfill this close vote reason?


1 this may or may not be entirely accurate

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2  
Well, the test I use is: "Will the question help anyone in the future?" If the title is googleable and that specific error message is commonly caused by that typo, then no it isn't too localized. Note that I know nothing about SQL so I cannot fairly judge for this question - hence why I didn't vote. –  Mysticial Feb 2 '13 at 5:23

2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

I agree with you - in general typos are too localized. No, it doesn't appear that you have misinterpreted anything. A vote to close is yours to cast, but not everyone will always agree with your reasoning. If you post a comment explaining the reason for your vote then expect someone to take umbrage occassionally.

But when you have a question like the example that doesn't stop you from assisting the OP. You could take the time to type up an answer explaining how to interpret or act upon that particular error message (because other people will try to search by some of its text). This is the "teaching a man to fish" approach.

Alternatively you could cut to the chase and point out his exact syntactical mistake in the comments section, while still voting to close the question.

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I did point out the exact syntactical mistake (okay - I didn't name a line number... that's actually harmful and I will never spoonfeed a newcomer like that). I also pointed out that syntax highlighting tells you where the error is. I believe that satisfies all the "requirements" of a good close vote! –  Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 2 '13 at 5:53
    
@LightnessRacesinOrbit I agree, you did enough. To you my answer may appear not so helpful because you probably already know this stuff, but there will be others reading it who have no idea how to approach these types of questions. To be honest, the simple answer to your question is "No", but you knew that already, so therefore your question is more about venting some frustration. –  slugster Feb 2 '13 at 5:59
    
No - I genuinely wanted to check that I wasn't missing something obvious. I acknowledge that your answer fits the general case, and it's what I was looking for (hence my upvote). I just also wanted to point out that I did do those things in this case. :) –  Lightness Races in Orbit Feb 2 '13 at 6:04

I think typos are too localized, so that once that has been pointed out to the asker it can be closed that way. I don't have a problem with users asking for debugging help, as what comes around goes around, and I'd like all the help I can working through bugs.

If it's a trivial fix and pointed out, the help has been given, but no one can get anything from that question in the future.

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