What is the definition of "too localized" for closing a question? I see several suggestions, but nothing definitive or specific.

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marked as duplicate by gnat, Hugo Dozois, Martijn Pieters, Josh Crozier, Rory Dec 18 '13 at 20:16

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"Too localized" should be used for very tiny geographic regions or vanishingly small periods of time. It is used when a question cannot possibly be answered because nobody participating in the site is likely to know the answer, and even if it were answered, nobody else would care.

For me, the canonical "too localized" question would be:

Why is there a green Honda Civic parked out in front of my house?

This is too localized because:

  1. Who cares?
  2. Is it even still there? Go check.
  3. What are the chances that this question could ever be answered in a way that would benefit anyone else?
  4. Now is it there?

There seems to be some knee-jerk closing of questions as "too localized" throughout Stack Exchange simply because they mention a time span or because they mention a geography. There are many questions which are limited in time or which are limited in geography, which, nevertheless, must not be closed as "too localized." For example:

  • A question about handling special characters which only appear in Turkish. Even though, yes, Turkey is a place, and only reflects a small portion of the developers in the world, the question is still extremely useful.

  • A question about software companies in Montreal. Believe me, there are way more programmers in Montreal than there are OCaml programmers, and I've never seen anyone suggest that an OCaml question should be closed. If the question were about one street in Montreal it might be too localized to get an answer. (BTW that question would no longer be considered on topic for Stack Overflow, but "too localized" it is not).

  • A question that only applies to a certain build of software. For example, a developer discussing a bug that only occurs in a certain version of the .NET framework. Sure, that version is going to be replaced with another version, which might fix the bug, but we're still going to answer it!

I am increasingly seeing trigger-happy people who misunderstand the purpose of this close reason... yesterday someone on Meta.SO voted to close a question about Stack Overflow Dev Days 2011 on the grounds that it was "too localized." COME ON!

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I suspect @Closer was messing with you, Joel. –  Michael Petrotta Apr 15 '11 at 1:34
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what?! i've been trolled?! :) But seriously, though, I see "vote to close as too localized" way too often, although it doesn't usually pass, I just wanted to make sure people understood that this close reason is really for situations that are so rare as to be unanswerable. –  Joel Spolsky Apr 15 '11 at 1:36
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I don't necessarily disagree with this, but it is a bit of a departure from established trends. Specifically, "where can I find X in Y" questions have almost always been closed as TL when "Y" is - roughly - anything smaller than a province or state. Does the whole team concur that these should be allowed? I worry that in practice, this could lead to a glut of, basically, shopping questions, that would be better placed on a site like Red Flag Deals. –  Aarobot May 5 '11 at 17:44
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May I suggest closing those annoying OCaml questions? And while we're on it - how about Montreal? ;) –  user unknown Feb 11 '12 at 18:37
    
Obviously too localized is/was a valid reason, but your third point should be removed because it makes it sound like SE sites are not a place where people can get help for problems they are facing, and anyone who has a problem is only welcome to ask if their problem is so general that it could apply to a enough other people. This has two problems: • the asker doesn’t care about other people, and certainly not in the future; they are trying to get help with their immediate problem • if it is a general problem, then chances are it has already been solved elsewhere, so why bother with SE? –  Synetech Aug 9 '13 at 13:32
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Shouldn't some of the questions regarding compiler errors be closed as too localized? If someone forgets to add a semicolon or close a parenthesis that is too localized; it only applies to him in a very specific point in time and will ultimately benefit no one except for him. Stack Overflow is not a crowd-sourced compiler/debugger.

Here are a few questions that fit this criteria:

The list just goes on forever. I'm not saying we should help these people out, but I also don't see the benefit to the community, as a whole.

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This was discussed by Jeff and Joel in the SO podcast from the other week (although I can't remember what there consensus was :(). Jeff did say that he was pro-actively closing 'low' quality questions like the ones you mention though. –  Dana the Sane Apr 29 '11 at 15:51
    
@DanatheSane: I think this should be done more often, and not just by Jeff. It should be included in some way in the wording of the Too localized close reason. –  alex Apr 29 '11 at 16:25
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I agree, "fix my beginner level code" questions could in many cases be "too localized" closures. I mean, I hope the guy gets an answer before the votes fill up, but beyond that, the question really doesn't need to stick around. –  user414076 May 1 '11 at 3:41
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Most of these questions can be answered in a comment. So you can close a question and still answer it without much problems... –  alex May 1 '11 at 6:11
    
@Dana, I've added an answer that provides some points from the podcast you're referencing. –  Pops May 5 '11 at 17:38
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Per Stack Exchange Podcast #02 (not Stack Overflow Podcast #02) starting at ~22:00, here are some guidelines for "too localized," mostly from Jeff:

  • not limited to physical location
  • this was only relevant for two minutes, those two minutes occurred yesterday, and it'll never be relevant again
  • you're curious about the syntax of a programming language you wrote that nobody else has ever used
  • when will [product name] be released? (close after the release takes place; see also Are strongly on-topic questions about predicting the future allowed?)
  • questions can be localized without being too localized

"The right frame of mind is 'How many people are going to benefit from this question being asked?' It's in your interest, and really everyone's interest, for you to try to ask questions that can apply to as many people as possible. Not to an absurd degree. If it's only helping you, then that's not making the world any better, but if you can just try to generalize a little bit so more people will think 'hey, I had that problem once'; if I can put myself in your shoes, then all of a sudden, hey, I'm interested in answering your question."

(Disclaimer: this isn't a true quotation, I picked and chose words Jeff actually used and attempted to preserve his meaning/intent.)

Joel's answer to this question summarizes a lot of his thoughts from the podcast; I haven't bothered recopying them here.

EDIT:
I just noticed that Jeff weighed in on this a few weeks ago:

If it's about a specific error code that can be somewhat narrowed down, it's ok-ish.

If it's about "oops, I forgot to put a semi-colon at the end of a line", then I don't see any value in it, and it should be flagged for deletion.

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The now-all-too-common "debug this code for me" or "what is wrong with my code?" falls into this category, since SO questions should be about languages and/or tools. SO is not a crowdsourced debugger, nor a discussion forum, nor simply a place to "get free help".

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  • Limited amount of answerability based on the location asked (Blah Blah in [insert town here])
  • Spoken language is not English
  • Requires extensive knowledge of a custom built system which is not available for others to use.

Those are some basic reasons off the top of my head.

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I'm sure I've also seen questions closed because they were too localized in time. –  Benjol Dec 8 '10 at 12:40
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I'd use that close reason when the question is written in a non-English language.

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Using the following query on google: http://www.google.ca/search?q=site:stackoverflow.com+“too+localized”

  • When questions are specific to a certain local: Best Software Companies in Montreal
  • Questions related to pay: Entry level software developer pay
  • Extremely niche questions: GDI has been accelerated. Does anyone know when this happened?
  • Institution specific questions: B.com vs B.tech (in computer science)

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    Informative, but only indicates 'popularity' rather than the optimal use. –  Dana the Sane Jul 13 '09 at 18:27
        
    @Dana - It seems on SO there is a fuzzy line between popular/optimal (ie Wiki Questions) they were designed for one thing and became another. So doesn't popularity then define optimal use? –  Gavin Miller Jul 13 '09 at 18:32
        
    Fair enough, I suppose I'm tempted to be more lenient than the mods these examples. –  Dana the Sane Jul 15 '09 at 13:37
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    "GDI has been accelerated. Does anyone know when this happened?" I don't see how that is question is too narrow. Just look at how many people actually answered it before it got closed. It's a good thing QBziZ before other people got a chance to write even more useful answers. :p –  nitro2k01 Apr 15 '11 at 4:02
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    Interesting. I always thought that meant that the question does not have appeal to a broad enough base of developers. It's like that guy at a company meeting with 500 people in it who will raise his hand and ask a really specific question about his project that nobody else in the room gives a damn about and won't get off of it. :) Something like ...

    "Here at my company we use a library called AwesomeLib. But when I call DoGreatStuff on CoolObject in AwesomeLib, I get the following exception ..."

    It's a question and it's programming related. It might be considered "not a real question," but assuming the guy is sincere in asking it, it's just too localized to be answered or interesting to anyone if I did answer it (like I'm in his company or something). That was what I thought anyway.

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    Don't see why a question should be closed because of this though. –  Alex Angas Aug 7 '09 at 12:29
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    So basically, people are only to answer questions that that appeal to as many as possible, rather than to help someone solve their problem? I thought these sites were exactly for that: a place where a person can get help solving their problem. –  Synetech May 8 '10 at 2:29
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