After answering 2 questions now about museum pieces I am wondering how far those are on or off-topic, specially being too localized, or in these cases too itemized.

The most recent one is the Mammooth and an older one, even time-locked is the Fibonacci Crocodile.

While the second one is in my opinion totally off-topic since I do not think the answers are of any value for future visitors of the page, the first one could be at least debated.

Is this type of question too localized?

  • Don't misuse the term "off-topic". It's a term specifically about topics. Freshness is a completely different property of a question to its topic. Topicality is merely one of the attributes of a question that can make it suitable for our site. May 30 '13 at 3:14
  • Both of my questions fall under this category... as did the now deleted 3rd - best to eliminate my questions (have flagged them to help with this).
    – user6842
    Jun 12 '13 at 11:39

As you say, it depends. I see a few factors to consider:

  • Spatial availability. Is the object of desire hard to find in the particular region? Asking where to find doner kebab diner in Berlin is not particularly useful, but how about Seoul? Very constrained regions can also satisfy this criterion, for example finding a park with a playground for children in downtown Washington DC.

    Lack of information about availability (i.e. cannot be obtained by a reasonable web search) is also a good reason to ask a question.

  • Temporal availability. The object is not likely to be found/purchased/observed outside a given time interval. Seasonal events and food are good examples. Finding places that serve semlas or glögg in Sweden in the middle of the summer might be tricky, for example.

  • Uniqueness. There are not many places one can see an actual Apollo Lunar Module, given their limited numbers. Asking for the closest (or the only) place to see it can result in a finite, small, exhaustive list of locations, which makes those questions perfect for the SE format.

  • Notability. It should be noted that not every unique object is interesting (for some value of "interesting") -- the world is full with unknown, weird objets d'art nobody cares about. Some degree of notability should be demonstrated. The Fibonacci crocodile is a good example here -- it's obscure enough that most of the people haven't heard about it, but still was interesting enough to be photographed and written about.

Each question should satisfy these factors to some degree. Taking the mammoth question into consideration:

  • Spatial availability. The OP asks for locations "not far from London", which should be sufficiently constrained, but still not "too localized".
  • Temporal availability. Not applicable in this case.
  • Uniqueness. Mammoths are hard to find on the streets in this day and age, and there are not many places to see them outside museums.
  • Notability. Everybody knows about mammoths and there is enough written and said about them, which is enough to satisfy this criterion.

By no means I'm saying this should be taken as some sort of hard-coded policy. The community should examine the merits of each question individually, and take appropriate action. I just tried to categorize the different aspects of what makes these questions good or bad fit for the SE format.

  • all very confusing - my understanding of this is that my two questions and probably half of my answers are not suitable... becoming very clear that I have not and probably will not make a valued contribution to here
    – user6842
    Jun 13 '13 at 12:08
  • 1
    @DamienIgoe: Why would you say that? As I said, there's no hard and fast rule about it. I merely pointed out the various aspects to think about when evaluating questions. It's the community that ultimately decides whose contributions are valuable and whose not, and in your case, you've earned reputation on your answers and questions. Jun 13 '13 at 12:20

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