I find that of all the "close" reasons, "too localized" is the one with the highest ratio of "times it applies," to "times questions are closed because of it." Which leads me to believe that the community doesn't actually respect the description of this close-reason, which makes me think it needs an update.
I will vote to close as TO in the cases where the question is too localized based on reasons of time or place, but most other very specific problems are probably useful to someone else somewhere.
So far as I can tell, "too localized" was intended for questions that quickly become effectively unanswerable anyway. The description doesn't quite reflect this, and we'll be either changing it or removing that close reason entirely in the near future...
The description reads:
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. For help making this question more broadly applicable, see the FAQ.
I find this very obviously applies to many, many questions that are about "the error in 'my' code." To be concrete, this is the question that spurned me to post this, although see my activity > close votes for many examples:
I do see why this is subtle. The question in this post is, arguably, a good question, and the fact that it currently stands as +1/-0 votes means the community does feel it is, arguably, a good question. It's precise, well-researched, specific - but yet in my sound judgment completely impossible to help anybody implement quicksort who hasn't made the exact same mistake in this code. For evidence, let's just do an SO search for implement quick sort:
- Implementation of Quick Sort
- Help implementing quick sort (closed!)
- inplace quick sort implementation
And so on, and so forth.
On the one hand, I would like to argue that the community should be stricter. I think if a question is too localized, it demonstrates that the OP has not put enough thought or research into the question to formulate it in a way that is general and hence researchable. Once a question is formulated generally enough that it can be of use to others, by the same principle in reverse it's probably already on SO, just wasn't searchable back when it was a problem in "my" code. For a problem in a basic C/Java/C++/etc. algorithm implementation, very often the actual problems will be things like misuse of for or if loop, and once someone kindly instructs the OP on how to use a debugger in a few sentences, the problem unveils into a more specific, researchable one.
On the other hand, it is clear to me that the community's actual behavior is out of sync with the description of this tag, so one of a few things needs to be done:
- At minimum: Questions that currently stand as too localized need to be permitted, since that's what the community does.
- Ideally: The community needs better resources with which to close such questions. Debugging a question such as the linked one is a two step process: one, narrow down the error to an irreducible problem such as improper use of if or for, assignment of variables, or even "code is too complicated to understand and should be factored into functions cohesively," which is in a weird way an irreducible problem. I should be able to close as "improperly debugged" - perhaps a subset of too localized - and have an automagic link to the expected steps the OP must go through as part of diligent research effort. Does such a guide exist on SO? I may be ignorant / ironically bad at searching for such things, but even if so it needs to be publicized more appropriately, e.g. in the description of too localized that may appear when a question is closed.
This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, a specific code fragment that does not serve to illustrate more general issues, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet. For help making this question more broadly applicable, see the FAQ or .
Obviously the second is ideal in my opinion but the status quo does not seem acceptable to me, as the reasons to close a question as too localized are ignored by the community very often.