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Update 2

It seems that there is still confusion regarding the issue so this is as plainly and clearly as I can state it:

Closing a question—ie, a request for help with resolving a problem—solely on the grounds that it does not also benefit—some arbitrary idea of what is—sufficiently copious people other than the asker is indecorous and should be removed as part of the too localized rationale.

(Yes, that is plain and clear.)


I need to make a clarification. The too localized tag currently reads as follows:

Too localized: This question would only be 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.

The problem I am describing is due to the fact that it encompasses too many, unrelated issues. Sure, time-sensitive questions (eg ones that expire or don’t make sense after some point) would make sense to be closed—though it does not mean that they should no longer be answered anyway if they can (eg how many people downloaded the beta version of Foobar 2.0? or how much memory did that obsolete, no-longer produced system have? or how did people work around with this compiler bug that most people no longer have to worry about because they have bought the latest version, but some of us cannot afford and still have to deal with?)

The geographic area part makes no sense. What exactly constitutes “small”? Who decides? What happens if those decision-makers move to a small town? Will they change their minds since it now affects them?

Here’s a question that could appear on ServerFault that highlights this issue: Has anyone managed to configure IPv6 with their local ISP here connection? (Possibly hypothetical, but still valid and pertinent.)

Or another one that could appear on SuperUser: How many others in state are finding that Acme netbooks are shipping with pirated copies of the OS?. (This may not apply in North America, but in a lot of other countries, it is a valid question that could easily comes up.)

How about this question that could appear on StackOverflow: I’m still waiting for my copy of Acme C++ 2.0 that I bought online. I’ve heard Europeans have gotten theirs. Has anyone in Canada? (Granted the on-topic-ness of this one is questionable-ish.)

What exactly is “too small”? What does it matter anyway?

The not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet[sic]. part is exceptionally inappropriate. As I demonstrate below, it should not matter. Why would it matter if someone’s problem does not apply to everybody else in the world? They are here to ask for help! How would you like it if you went to the doctor only to have him turn you away because your disease is too rare and finding a cure for it would not sufficiently benefit the world at large? You went there for help.

I suggest the removal of the affects too few people reason for closing questions. If someone wants help, then either help them if you can, move along and ignore the question if you can’t, or else clearly and flat out tell them that you won’t answer their question because there’s nothing in it for you or others; don’t hide behind the esoteric sounding too localized tag.


I’ve seen lots of issues raised with the too localized reason for closing a question. Personally I think one part of it in particular is absurd and frankly kind of offensive. I put forth here two arguments for its removal, one moral and one logical.

  1. One of the (too many, unrelated) parts encompassed in the too localized reason for closing a question, is that a question is not of interest to enough people (not necessarily no others than the asker, but rather not enough, whatever that means). This makes no sense because the purpose of these StackExchange sites is so that people can get help to solve their problems, not a place where generic technology information can be found—though that is a logical extension of the main purpose—that’s what reference sites, manuals, Wikis, etc. are for. Therefore, it seems quite insulting that a person who has a problem with something comes here and asks for help, only to be turned away because their problem is not amusing or applicable enough to lots of others.

    It is offensive that people would only help someone if there is something in it for themselves or others, rather than help that person in need.

  2. Another problem with that part of the too localized tag is that the StackExchange sites have clearly identified their purpose as being a place where people can come and ask definite, singularly answerable questions, and try to eschew discussion questions (“this is not a forum, this is not a forum…”). If someone has a problem with something relatively unique to their situation, it is all the more answerable. However if they must find a way to generalize the problem so that it applies to lots of others, then it becomes less answerable and more of a discussion question.

    Take for example questions of the forms Should I…?, How can I…?, etc. An asker would describe their circumstances and ask if or how to do or accomplish a task under that scenario. This is usually a pretty easy question to definitively answer. However generalizing the question to Should one… under each of the following circumstances, or How to… in each of these configurations, becomes much more of a discussion question.

I hope I have laid out sufficient evidence that the the general applicability part of the too localized reason for closing a question has no place on these sites (though it may have in some sorts of SE type sites).

I (no longer :P) welcome counter-arguments and examples of why it actually would be useful/required, but I for one still cannot fathom a rational reason to keep it—okay, I do welcome them if they really are reasonable and fitting.

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Re: Your edit, again these are hypothetical, imaginary questions. If you want to convince anyone then you need to provide actual examples of questions which were closed as Too Localized but which you think would still have value to somebody other than the person who asked it. Otherwise, this just comes off as another anti-closing complaint, and most people here are starting to come to the realization that there is in fact too little closing, not too much. –  Aarobot May 8 '10 at 15:24
Acme is notorious for shipping netbooks with pirated copies of Ubuntu. –  Gnome May 8 '10 at 16:05
Gotta love your "Update 2." I'm going to point you to Question title that doesn't describe the problem. This is the Meta version of that. But I'm sure you won't see the connection, clearly you're the only one who "gets it." –  Aarobot May 10 '10 at 19:03
Yes you do gotta love it. The post you linked to is cute, if useless; then again it allows people like you to attempt to be clever. My updates did not change the question at all, and the title does match. They just attempt to clarify the issue for people like yourself who have difficulty grasping the matter at hand. Right from the start, I made it clear that my problem was with closing questions that “are not beneficial to others besides the asker”. But I’m sure you won’t see the connection, clearly you’re the only one who “doesn’t get it”. –  Synetech May 10 '10 at 19:39
"Nobody understands me, it must be that everyone else is the problem!" –  jmfsg May 10 '10 at 20:00
@Downvoter, that was just sarcasm. I’m just trying to play the same game as him since he seems to be enjoying it so much. –  Synetech May 10 '10 at 20:12
A question being hypothetical has nothing to do with validity. It simply means it is something that might be. Until you actually provide actual example questions, your examples are nothing but hypothetical. We're talking about questions on the S[OFU] sites, not questions in general here. –  Grace Note May 10 '10 at 20:12
@ccomet, fair enough, I’ll update that. But, those questions could actually exist? I could check, but I probably won’t waste the time. –  Synetech May 10 '10 at 20:15
If you believe there is a chance those questions do exist and you actually care about this proposition, then it is entirely in your best interest to look for them. It's not a waste of time if it is meaningful to you. –  Grace Note May 10 '10 at 20:19
Let me stab at why you are getting such a negative reception here. This may take a few comments, but it's not worth an answer. As far as I see, your concern is "If I have a question that is personal to my situation, then it can be closed as 'too localized' and I won't get an answer." Now, this can be a technically legitimate concern. The issue is, you've provided absolutely no proof that this has actually happened. All we have to go by are examples where it has not happened. Some examples in the answers actually show questions that are personal to the person's situation. (cont) –  Grace Note May 10 '10 at 20:35
They were locked after they were answered: the localized answers are staying with the localized question. So from one logic, if this single entity's personal question has been answered, it stands little reason to keep it open, right? So it was closed with an appropriate reason, and at an appropriate time. This still leaves us no examples where someone was actually denied getting an answer, which is what you are afraid of. We can't say that this is a problem that needs to be fixed if it is being used properly and no one is being denied an answer. –  Grace Note May 10 '10 at 20:40
@hit-and-run-down-voter on 2013/11/28, really‽ Did you not see my answer below? I was proven right; this was indeed bad and confusing. You still had the audacity to down-vote this as though my opinion was wrong even after they did exactly what I said and removed the “too localized” close-reason? ◔_◔ –  Synetech Nov 28 '13 at 6:32
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closed as off-topic by Undo, Aziz Shaikh, hims056, Jonathan Hobbs, Martijn Pieters Nov 28 '13 at 8:28

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The problem described here can no longer be reproduced. Changes to the system or to the circumstances affecting the asker have rendered it obsolete. If you encounter a similar problem, please post a new question." – Undo, Aziz Shaikh, hims056, Jonathan Hobbs, Martijn Pieters
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

4 Answers

I think the reason is pretty clear:

This question would only be 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.

So let's consider each one.

  1. Small geographic area

    Are there any user group meetings in Peoria, IL?

  2. Specific moment in time

    When will Visual Studio 2010 be released?

  3. Extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet

    We use this in-house tool WELBOG.EXE to generate faxes from XML via regular expressions. What does the -LASERS option do?

share|improve this answer
Perhaps a rename to Far Too Localized makes the meaning more clear? –  waiwai933 May 8 '10 at 3:28
@waiwai933: Perhaps Really Far Too Localized (just for emphasis) or would you prefer something more verbose? –  Dexter May 8 '10 at 3:50
jeff, any chance you can email WELBOG.EXE to me? –  quack quixote May 8 '10 at 4:21
+1 just for the last point. –  Earlz May 8 '10 at 4:23
-1 No link to Welbog. –  Jon Seigel May 8 '10 at 5:03
@Jeff just as a heads-up, whatever you do, don't use the Lasers option! –  alex May 8 '10 at 5:18
The -LASERS option has been deprecated in favour of -BIGLASERS. –  Aarobot May 8 '10 at 5:26
Also, it is necessary to add at least one expletive as a parameter. Any english-language expletive that is recognized as offensive is accepted. –  Pëkka May 8 '10 at 6:37
That's ridiculous, there is no -LASERS parameter on WELBOG.EXE. It is not optional. F**k No It's not! –  devinb May 8 '10 at 8:19
HEY MAN, DO YOU LIKE LASERS? –  XMLbog May 8 '10 at 11:18
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This question seems to be speaking in general terms about hypothetical questions that were or would be closed as "too localized" that would still be valuable to a certain audience.

What's conspicuously missing is specific examples, so let me add a few of mine:

  1. When will MSDN Academic Alliance subscribers get VS2010
  2. Unselect Databound Combobox Winforms .NET
  3. Is the codeplex site having problems today?
  4. 我想知道googole app market 为什么不允许中国大陆的人注册??
  5. why am i getting error in this switch statement written in c

The first is clearly not relevant anymore; VS 2010 is already out. There is no conceivable reason why further answers should be allowed on this.

The second was basically "user error." Author solved his own problem which turned out to be something completely unrelated to the original question (and basically irrelevant to anyone else).

The third question is the quintessential example of "too localized." Even if the same problem happens in the future, the question is still utterly useless because it's a different occurrence.. The last thing we need on Stack Overflow, or any other Stack Exchange site, is people whining that their favourite site is offline, and none of the other close reasons make sense (it's a real question, it's not subjective, it's on topic and not a dupe).

Fourth question I hope is self-explanatory. "Too Localized" is the perfect reason for closing questions written entirely in foreign languages.

And fifth, for those who can't see it (it's deleted), was some nonsense written in C, later retagged as beginner. The question was basically only relevant to this particular user who clearly didn't understand C syntax, and its content is completely un-searchable.

If you think that questions are being incorrectly/unfairly closed as "too localized" or that it is "insulting" or "offensive", then let's see some examples. As far as I can tell, it's the least offensive reason of all. And it's very hard to get a question closed as Too Localized; I definitely don't think it's being abused.

Last but not least, closing a question does not necessarily make a statement that the question was not welcome; sometimes that's the case, but not always. S&A and Not A Real Question do, in a certain sense, say "your question sucks / doesn't belong here." But on the other hand, Exact Duplicate and Too Localized don't say that at all, they suggest that the problem was not with the question itself but merely with the context in which it was asked.

Summary: "Too Localized" is not "at Odds" with the "Fundamental Premise" of SE sites. I will concede that Too Broad is a much bigger problem most of the time, but there are still some very specific cases where a question really is too localized to be of any value to the community, as opposed to just the original author, and the concept of community value seems to be very prominent in the SO/SE philosophy.

share|improve this answer
1. Questions that are time-based like this one should be closed for a more apt reason; too localized is not an appropriate tag. The too localized tag encompasses too many, unrelated reasons. It should be separated into distinct reasons (the last of which should be omitted). –  Synetech May 8 '10 at 14:34
2. Like I said, the user had a problem. Are they not supposed to ask for help? What, the Hell with them since they made a mistake and didn’t understand? Ins’t that exactly the purpose of asking questions? That question is a perfect example of something that is easily answerable and contrary to what you say, is indeed relevant to others (who make the same error-handling mistake). And like I said, who cares if it’s irrelevant to others? The user needed help! (Sure close it once it’s solved) –  Synetech May 8 '10 at 14:34
3. That’s the same as question one, a time-based question. 4. So the SE sites are explicitly English-only? You may want to add that to the FAQ since it is not there. (Oh, and the Chinese language is hardly “too localized”, there are more than 2 billion speakers). 5. Again, the user not understanding something is all the more reason to ask for help! If the question is indecipherable, then it should be tagged as not a real question. –  Synetech May 8 '10 at 14:37
@Synetech: For (1), you say "more apt" but once again don't actually tell us what's "more apt." 2) It's fine that they asked for help, but as I explained, their question is no longer useful. You say "sure close it once it's solved" - that's exactly what happened!. 3) Yes, exactly, the question was time-sensitive and not relevant, therefore it was closed after the time elapsed. 4) Yes actually, if you bothered to read the FAQ you would find that Stack Overflow really is English-only. –  Aarobot May 8 '10 at 14:48
@Synetech: And lastly, for (5), it was a "real question", and it had a "real answer" - it was closed and deleted after the answer was given because it stood no chance of ever helping anyone else other than the person who originally asked it. –  Aarobot May 8 '10 at 14:50
@Aarobot, I did bother to read the FAQ and it says nothing about SE* being English only. That link you gave is NOT the FAQ. Are users of SO/SE/SF supposed to scour META for posts to learn what should be in the FAQ? –  Synetech May 9 '10 at 16:31
@aarobot, Again you stick to the helping anyone else thing. Once again I say WHO CARES?! The goal of the person asking was to help them with their problem. If you have never asked for help with anything other than problems that apply to everyone else in the world, then maybe you can nag, otherwise you don’t. –  Synetech May 9 '10 at 16:32
@Synetech: Users of SO/SE/SF are supposed to read the Meta FAQ before they start posting questions. The goal of the person asking may have been to get help with their specific problem, but the goal of the community as a whole is not charity work, it's to create a searchable database of useful technical information, and a highly-localized question that has already been answered and will never affect anyone else has no value in that light. You've answered all of 21 questions on Stack Overflow, so don't tell me who's qualified to nag. –  Aarobot May 9 '10 at 20:38
Oh and by the way, the meta FAQ is very clearly linked to at the bottom of the official FAQ. Once again, these things are easy to find if you actually look for them. –  Aarobot May 9 '10 at 20:51
I’ve completely lost track of what you are saying now Aarobot. First, like I said, if what you want is “a searchable database of useful technical information”, then may I suggest you look into manuals, documentations, wikis, MSDN, etc., etc. These sites are for answering questions, not compiling a reference manual. Second, what does answering/21/questions have to do with anything? Besides, I am more active on SU anyway. Third, you obviously didn’t read and/or understand what I said about you nagging. –  Synetech May 10 '10 at 10:43
@Synetech, you really don't listen, do you? Yes, the sites are for answering questions, but that doesn't mean any question goes, otherwise the site would be as useless as Yahoo Answers. I can't even begin to imagine what's going on in your head, it's like you think it's the end of the world whenever a question gets closed. Like I said, not every S[OFU] user is expected to read the FAQ, but Meta users are, especially before they make sanctimonious posts implying that they know what's best for everyone. –  Aarobot May 10 '10 at 13:49
It's clear that you aren't willing to take no for an answer and that you don't really care what anybody else has to say on the subject, so as far as I'm concerned this conversation is over. Downvote if you like, but I'm not responding to any more of your comments. –  Aarobot May 10 '10 at 13:55
I still don't understand the motivation for closing (5). It's a very raw newbie question, but there are very raw newbies on SO. It also seems to me that some of those questions((1) and (3)) served a purpose, were properly answered, no longer serve a purpose, and should be closed and deleted. I'd say that most of these are examples of correct closing and deletion. –  David Thornley May 10 '10 at 20:33
@Aarobot: I still think there's got to be raw newbies out there who don't realize what can and cannot go into a case statement. Possibly somebody could have retitled and/or retagged it so it could have been found in a search. As you say, it's not that big a deal, but IMNSHO that question didn't need to be deleted. –  David Thornley May 11 '10 at 15:21
@David: I agree that it didn't need to be deleted. I still think it should have been closed. –  Aarobot May 11 '10 at 17:27
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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Ha! I was right all along. I’m not the only one who had a problem with this. And now it’s gone:

New Close Reasons

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I don't think this will ever happen: those in power will never go for it.. Too Localized is what the establishment uses to close all questions they don't like, or don't think is a "legitimate" issue. Taking away Too Localized would be like taking away uncle Sam's ability to cut tax deals with big oil companies through a flat tax.

The proof is in the pudding: even questions about Too localized are closed for being Too localized http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/49080

share|improve this answer
Now that we have the Noise/Pointless reason on Meta, you no longer have to worry about this! –  Aarobot May 8 '10 at 15:28
That just sounds like a cocky way to admit that if Too Localized ever had a purpose was often used to close things that had nothing to do with that purpose. –  Evan Carroll May 8 '10 at 15:31
Two things: your previous request was implemented so you can use as many internal links as you like even at your apparently permanent 1 rep level. Second, too localized was only forced into duty because noise/pointless didn't exist. But now it does thanks to the tireless efforts of fine community members like yourself. –  Jeff Atwood May 8 '10 at 15:40
@Jeff, I will go on the record predicting that you will have more problems with unjust closures for "noise" and "pointless" than it is worth, and those two will go away in due time. –  Evan Carroll May 8 '10 at 15:47
@Evan: If the reason existed on the trilogy sites, I would agree. But on Meta, I think it'll do quite nicely. I await the "unjust" complaints with bated breath. –  Aarobot May 8 '10 at 16:03
I mean the fact that "noise" and "pointless" are denigrating and quite possibly not the intent of the poster should just set these new reasons up for failure. You're in effect at best telling someone, despite the fact that your post is well thought out, and verbose, I want to close it - because I have no better reason to close it for, I'll close it for Noise. –  Evan Carroll May 8 '10 at 16:14
@EvanCarroll: Assuming it's not a moderator closing the question because they don't like it, then that's just community moderation at work. Nothing wrong with it - if the community think a question should be closed, then it should be closed. If you can't even get 5 people to reopen it, perhaps the question simply doesn't have worth. –  Phoshi May 8 '10 at 16:40
populism limited to the elite few -- sounds like a good idea. –  Evan Carroll May 8 '10 at 21:16
@evan democracy != populism. You have a close/reopen vote too, or you would have a vote, if you kept your requests and posts here sane and on topic. –  Jeff Atwood May 9 '10 at 2:43
Right, so I'm subject to a system that I have no vote in... That's certainly democracy. –  Evan Carroll May 9 '10 at 14:19
@Evan: You have to earn your vote, just like immigrants have to earn/apply for their US citizenship (or, I should say, they're supposed to). –  gnostradamus May 10 '10 at 19:13
@gnovices-exchange: I think that is a intellectually dishonest analogy. Immigrants don't have to earn a vote. Immigrants have to apply and be accepted for citizenship, just I had I had to register to become a denizen of SO. After I was given an account there should be no further hurtles in voting, or it is not a Democracy. –  Evan Carroll May 10 '10 at 19:27
I'd call it more of a republic than a democracy. You get to vote for people who can do the actual voting. –  mmyers May 10 '10 at 19:45
@Evan: citizens of the US under 18 are subject to a (democratic) system that they have no vote in. I guess that just means you need to grow up a bit. It's the children who have no vote and must petition to have the voice heard by those who can vote. –  squillman May 11 '10 at 17:53
While this answer is kind of rant-ish, it's pretty correct that "too localized" is used for "I don't like this question" an awful lot. –  djechlin Apr 26 '13 at 20:05
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