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Yes, I did see all the other questions saying specific questions are not too localized and this one, but this won't exactly fit in a comment, and isn't too applicable as an answer.

Maybe I'm just incapable of seeing the difference between questions, but it seems that if some (high-reputation) users can have their way, 99.99999% of the questions on SO will be closed as too localized. SO is after all for specific (programming) problems related to specific programming languages or specific APIs, right? This is exactly what most of the questions that are closed as too localized are.

The only questions that I think should be closed as too localized are those that ask for code to be written for a specific programming problem (which can be closed as not constructive / off topic), variations:

  • A specific exception for a very specific programming problem can still be pretty widely applicable
  • Why code doesn't do what it's supposed to can (arguably) still be widely applicable

To quote the FAQ:

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.


unlikely to help any future visitors / extraordinarily narrow situation

How many people use any given language or API? To think that 2 (or 3, or 4, or 100, or 1000) people won't run into the (exact) same problem is simply naive (at least for reasonably well-known languages or APIs).

small geographic area / a specific moment in time

Fair enough, but honestly I haven't seen a single question closed or eligible to be closed for either of these reasons. Though I'd still have complaints about closing for "small geographic area".


So I suppose the question is - what do we want SO to be? Do we want it to be a site with less than a 1000 questions on, each of which is applicable to 1000s of people, or do we want SO to be a resource where you can find the solution to just about any programming problem. I was under the impression we were going for the latter.

My request - remove the overly misused "too localized" reason or at least limit it to small geographic area / a specific moment in time (with a clear message notifying of the change)


As requested, examples (the first few of this query):

1) This (maybe duplicate, unclear or not constructive).

2) This actually looks like a pretty decent question.

3) This seems like many people might have the same problem.

4) This also seems like many people might have the same problem.

5) This seems very widely applicable.

Note - these are actually the first five from the query, I didn't even skip any.


Doesn't this or this query vaguely point to something being wrong (which questions too localized close votes were cast on and which of these questions were closed (ordered by score))?

share|improve this question
Where is the data showing TL is overused? I'm missing an analysis here of classes of closed questions that didn't deserve the TL closing reason, to show this is an actual problem that needs solving. When you make sweeping claims about some (high-reputation) users you need to back those up with data. – Martijn Pieters Feb 16 '13 at 18:07
do we want SO to be a resource where you can find the solution to just about any programming problem we want exactly that, and too localized questions are actively harming that goal by cluttering the search results with stuff that no one will ever need again. A perfect example for a "too localized" question is a typo that is unlikely to ever happen to another person in the same constellation ever again. Can you point to some questions that have been wrongly closed as "too localized" in your opinion so we can discuss them specifically? – Pëkka Feb 16 '13 at 18:09
@MartijnPieters See edit. You can consider anyone able to close questions to have "high-reputation" (3k+), though I am actually referring to specific "closing as too localized" comments by users with around 20k+ reputation (no data on hand). – Dukeling Feb 16 '13 at 18:23

I disagree. "Too localized" is the best close reason for quite a range of questions. In particular (in my opinion) those following the pattern:

  • Huge walls of code (of varying quality) with a couple of lines of text that boils down to:

    Please debug this for me.

  • Typo questions

    My code doesn't compile!

       whiel (foo) { bar; }

These questions aren't off topic per se, they're not subjective either, don't ask for lists, they're real questions too. The answers simply won't help anyone else but the asker.

(The first variety can be interesting if the code is short enough, and the description is good enough for the question to be found via searching. When that's not the case, the value of the question to the Internet at large is very, very small.)

As for the examples:

This (maybe duplicate, unclear or not constructive).

Indeed. If no-one can figure out what is being asked, I don't really see how someone could locate this question via searching. NARQ might have been a better close reason, but too localized isn't that bad.

This actually looks like a pretty decent question.

Basic syntax. 5 minutes with a tutorial or a search engine would have been sufficient. This type of thing just adds noise.

This seems like many people might have the same problem.

Not findable via search. Again, basic syntax.

This also seems like many people might have the same problem.

Basic syntax again. There's a half-gazillion example PHP scripts on the web, looking at any of them solves the problem. Adding noise again more than anything else. (Though this one is IMO a bit more interesting than the others.)

This seems very widely applicable.

If you managed to find a single introduction to Python that doesn't stress repeatedly that the language is whitespace sensitive, you found a real "gem". Again that's a basic syntax problem. Again it's not searchable. So no, it doesn't help anyone else than the OP and adds noise.

share|improve this answer
This is almost exactly what I want "too localized" to be (but it simply isn't just this at the moment). "typo questions" - Ok, as long as you don't mean syntax questions or confusing errors due to this by the compiler (I remember my days as a beginner C++ programmer where the compiler threw some cryptic error for syntax problems). Also note that "Please debug this for me" is immensely arguable (similar to what you noted). – Dukeling Feb 16 '13 at 18:28
+1 for noting that Too Localized often implies "not searchable." While other questions can also be too localized, I think this aspect deserves more attention, and should be included in the definition. – CodeGnome Feb 16 '13 at 18:37
Side note: "too localized" is the type of question I don't hesitate both voting to close and answering (when the typo's interesting like a ; right after a for(;;) or while() or such that make for really strange behavior and are hard to spot). Gets the OP unstuck at least, and no problem with that type of thing eventually getting cleaned out of the system. – Mat Feb 16 '13 at 18:42
2) Well, ok, I think everyone misunderstood this question (or maybe I did). 3) I'm getting that error, no clue why, what do I Google? Probably something like "javascript strange Unexpected token ILLEGAL" - first result. 4) Probably same as (3). Yes, many of these are syntax errors, but syntax errors for modern languages tend to be the real brain twisters. Answer and close is one option, but what if the user could find a similar question on SO and didn't need to ask the question? And yes, so many of these are duplicates, but should then be closed as such. – Dukeling Feb 16 '13 at 18:45
@Dukeling closing as duplicate is work - finding a good dupe is hard. When it's the 6,000th duplicate, there's little point in finding one and little motivation, too. If we can agree that most of these questions should be closed, why is it such a huge problem that it may not always be with the 100% right reason? – Pëkka Feb 16 '13 at 18:56
'For these cases where this reason is used, it was simply the wrong reason' (or using the right reason is too much effort) is not a good argument for keeping a reason, on the contrary, it's a good reason to get rid of it (and/or add a generic duplicate reason) - it reduces ambiguity in the reason. – Dukeling Feb 16 '13 at 19:08

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