What is the definition of "too localized" for closing a question? I see several suggestions, but nothing definitive or specific.
"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:
- Who cares?
- Is it even still there? Go check.
- What are the chances that this question could ever be answered in a way that would benefit anyone else?
- 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!
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:
- https://stackoverflow.com/questions/5787666/code-eror-to-display-data-in-grid-from-textbox (actually, most of this guy's questions seem to be like the one linked)
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.
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.
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.
Using the following query on google: http://www.google.ca/search?q=site:stackoverflow.com+“too+localized”
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.