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Yes, I get the other reasons for closing questions, but too localized because a question might only effect a small area of people?

Personally, I see any question deserves to have an answer if it is well formatted and shows the other developers viewing the question that the asker has actually attempted research and troubleshooting steps.

So what if it may only fall under a small category of developers.. They have resorted to Stack Overflow to resolve an issue which they are encountering to just get shot down by the moderation/community because they see it as not to bring any beneficial reasons to the Stack Overflow archive.

To be clear, I am not posting this because I have recently posted a question which has been closed for this reason. I'm posting here today to find out why this happens; why people see a question as "too localized".


After reading a few other questions regarding this, it still points out the main reason of the lack of information on why a question may be closed. For example:

I can provide one of my own questions that WAS too localized on SO; I had asked a question about how CakePHP treated logging, but I was using a very old version of CakePHP therefor it was quite unlikely others would be having the same problem with the same exact version of the framework I was working on.

which was posted on this question (comment):

This reason for a closure, for example, is something I do not see fit for being localized as many development companies still use older versions of MVC frameworks and general frameworks of some languages due to the legacy nature. E.G:

For a while they used a current revision at the time, but due to the amount of software that was shipped out in perfect working order, which posed no problem at the time and is still working as expected, the development team might see it as an unfit thing to roll them out to the latest version for the reason - If it's not broken don't fix it


There should be some more closure reasons, to be more exact with the reason the question is closed. For example, the xyz type questions, which answer themselves. Why not have a notice for

This question has been closed due to the question specifically answering itself, or the OP has stated the steps to the solution within the content of the question?

Possibly not that exact piece of text, but something along those variations?

I guess this could fall under a feature request for the SO Community. If necessary, the moderation/administration team could view this question and deem it fit for a feature, but this main purpose is for a clarification of this exact closure notice

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@KnightswhosayNi slightly yes, but the main outlook is of two of the closure notices, not this one ;) –  Daryl Gill May 2 '13 at 1:20
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Most questions that are closed as too localised are typo questions, or other elementary mistakes that should have been caught in preliminary debugging. Having them here doesn't make a lot of sense, since other programmers can only benefit from questions that a) they are likely to run into, and b) that are relatively searchable –  Asad May 2 '13 at 1:26
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@Asad in cases like this, they might just be starting out on any languges, and might not realize their mistake even know after searching.. I mean, lets face it.. Whats the chances of you writing your own code without using an example sheet.. The code will be different, so they might not have realized their mistake.. then closing down their question due to a novices mistake is a little harsh in my opinion. Perhaps not to a majority of the users of SO, but to a minority, i personally see that as a harsh thing to do.. -- I need some help, I'll post to Stackoverflow so my errors can clearly be.. –  Daryl Gill May 2 '13 at 1:30
    
..*pointed out.. Then people facing this problem* (although might be rare) might beable to search something like this then find the solution due to a more experienced developer giving a technical analysis of the current issue -- to be just turned down by a question closure –  Daryl Gill May 2 '13 at 1:31
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@DarylGill Closing questions is not punishment. It is just one of the ways content is curated on this site. There's been a lot of work recently to remove the stigma attached to question closure through changes in wording, and I think the solution to perceived slights towards novices lies there, and not in discarding a close reason. –  Asad May 2 '13 at 1:33
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If you see closed questions that are reasonably applicable to a future audience, they are not, in fact, too localised. People make mistakes when deciding what to close, in which case you should vote to reopen the question. This isn't an argument for discarding the close reason, as it is still applicable to some questions. –  Asad May 2 '13 at 1:35
    
Too localized means a user posted a wall of code, and asked where the bug is. That's about all there is too it. –  Adam Rackis May 6 '13 at 18:38
    
In response to your bounty: meta.stackexchange.com/a/87415 –  Robert Harvey May 6 '13 at 21:45
    
for an analysis of one particular kind too localized questions, see: Close all the typo questions –  gnat May 6 '13 at 23:18
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Slightly related: Over the past few days I have been seeing an unusual number of (poor) attempts to close questions as Too Localized (on SO of course). Is it possible that badge-hunters have found this an easier categorization to collect reviews with? As anyone else observed this, or have I been the victim of a statistical anomaly? –  Pieter Geerkens May 7 '13 at 4:07

4 Answers 4

up vote 16 down vote accepted

too localized should be used sparingly. It should only be used when a question could not possibly help anyone else because the question is too specific. For instance:

  • This question (10K only; see screenshot), while closed as not constructive (correct closure), is also too localized, as it's not going to be useful to anyone else, nor will anyone be able to find it.
  • This question is unlikely to help anyone else, nor is anyone else likely to find it.
  • This question is effectively useless to anyone else. The answers are really only going to apply to this code block - if any answer can be given at all.

All of these questions fall under the too localized category:

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.

With that said, I think this category is valid. It is reasonably clear, once you've seen a few examples. It should be used sparingly, and I'd stick to not a real question and not constructive most of the time. They're generally clearer, and generally more applicable. Still, there are certain situations in which I'd flag too localized; see the above.

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Sorry for the -1 (but hey, it's META, remember), but the exact phrasing in the cryptic error message of your second example (T_Variable not found) is very indicative of a PHP source missing a particular semi-colon. In that way, I think the answers given are still useful for others. And the same holds true for the other examples you gave. In general, I agree with the topic starter. There are 4.000.000 million questions (or more?) on StackOverflow, imho too localized is one of the frequently mis-used close reasons. –  ChristopheD May 6 '13 at 21:50
    
@ChristopheD No worries about the downvote. It happens. To address your concerns, though - I think many questions along the lines of "here is my code - there's a small error. Where is it?" are generally too localized. The problem with too localized is that it's a highly content-based close reason. To properly flag too localized, you really do need to know what the question is talking about. That being said, these were just some quick examples I dug up which better matched too localized. –  Emrakul May 6 '13 at 21:59
    
A couple of the links you provide reference questions that have been removed by the moderators. I know, it happens. But it's hard to follow the examples you intend to prove your point. –  Walter Mitty May 8 '13 at 10:12

As I understand it, closing questions for being 'too localized' isn't indicative of them not deserving of an answer, but indicative of the answer not being relevant to any other developer, Usually this close reason is used for problems derived from a typo or other silly logic/syntax error, that isn't related to any fundamental misunderstanding of an algorithm but just from making a dumb mistake.

Since Stack Overflow's job is producing a large body of high quality questions and answers (notice that googling for many common programming questions will give you a Stack Overflow answer high in the results), it does not make sense to keep questions that would have no use if they appeared on a google search around. They will get answered, of course, then as ephemeral problems should be closed.

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Unfortunately, too often I suspect they don't get answered because of over zealous closers. –  Pieter Geerkens May 6 '13 at 4:00
    
@Pieter Geerkens Yeah, that is definitely something to be careful of –  Patashu May 6 '13 at 4:10

Honestly I think the 2 questions you posted in your question would be incorrect to close as too localized. I remember one of the pod casts where Joel was talking about the too localized close reason and the example he used was something like...

Why is there a car parked in front of my house?

Not only is it unlikely anyone will know why there is a car parked in front of your particular house, but by the time someone reads this question in a day or two, it is very likely the car isn't even there now.

If you are closing a question as too localized because it may only affect very few people who happen to be in the same problem space I believe that to be incorrect. The too-localized close reason is specifically for problems that only affect that one person at that one time, and will quite obviously never help anyone in the future.

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It is this one: meta.stackexchange.com/a/87415 –  Robert Harvey May 6 '13 at 21:46
    
I agree. 'Too localized' is used incorrectly most of the times I've seen it applied (imho). –  ChristopheD May 6 '13 at 21:51

Sometimes, the reasoning behind declaring something "too localized" is based on an opinion that deserves to be challenged.

Take this question: Primary key composed of two foreign keys? Oracle

It's a clear question, with an answer that is clear, succinct, and correct. The answer is likely to be useful to anyone who wishes to declare a compound primary key. Declaring a compound primary key made up of two foreign keys is still a widespread database design pattern, even though many of today's experts prefer always staying with simple primary keys.

The people who closed this question as "too localized" are simply incorrect, in my view.

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I disagree wholeheartedly with your sentiment though "too localized" may be the incorrect close reason. If the OP had attempted anything (exactly what they suggest for instance) or searched anything (I've answered a number of these questions on SO and they're all over the internet) then they would have their answer. They already had their answer and didn't even try to execute it! There is absolutely no reason for this question to exist. –  ben is uǝq backwards May 6 '13 at 21:59
    
My comments are limited to challenging whether the question is or is not "too localized". I'm undecided on the matter of whether this particular question suffers from too little prior effort on the questioner's part. –  Walter Mitty May 7 '13 at 1:22
    
Too localized sort of makes sense though. How often are you going to get "I have exactly the correct code and know how to use it; what should I do?" –  ben is uǝq backwards May 7 '13 at 7:07
    
Indeed, the question does contain a self-answer. The questioner was obviously unsure whether the self-answer was correct. But the discussion on "too localized" should center on whether the question and the answer are unlikely to benefit future visitors. –  Walter Mitty May 8 '13 at 10:06

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