34

In the close question reasons debate, we seemed pretty in favour of not wanting to become travel agents. That is, doing all the research and so on for:

  • someone's specific flights from A to B, the prices and details of which won't benefit any future user
  • designing someone's itinerary around a country when they provide no indication of what they enjoy, want to see, or how they want to travel and so on.

I propose we nail this down now in a discussion.

Where I draw the line now...my view may change, it certainly has on this in the past, is that we're not planning people's trips for them. "Oh I hear Scotland is lovely, where should I go?". No. Even "I want to visit Argentina, I have $2000, will be there in September, and want to stay in Hostels". No. There are too many possible answers, too many itineraries, and it's their holiday.

Now, do they have a specific question? What's the most logical order to visit the Argentinian side of the Iguazu Falls? Is there a tour company that takes you to the whales in Puerto Madryn? Are there day trips to Perito Merino Glacier? Sure, we're happy to help. Those are specific, detailed, non-subjective questions, and we have (hopefully) the answers!

To draw the latest one into the argument which got my attention, I've tried to encourage a rewrite, and to some extent he has, but I looked at what he's made, and my heart wasn't in answering. And I realised why. His post isn't a question, there is no question there. (Indeed, the very title is lacking a question. The reason is it's rather hard to ask a question title which encapsulates "I want a tour of the Cotswolds") It's a list of requirements for a tour. It's something you hand over to a travel agent or guide, and ask them to explain how to book it.

And I stand my staff here in the ground, and say, you shall not pass! Or rather, we are not travel agents!

(crickets, silence, crickets)

OK, thoughts?

  • I'm not sure that the question you reference can be easily turned into a suitable one, as I can think of at least half a dozen possible station+hotel combos that would meet the vague criteria given, and that's just off the top of my head! – Gagravarr Aug 5 '13 at 13:41
  • @Gagravarr indeed, which is why I view it as a tour request, rather than a question. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Aug 5 '13 at 14:16
25

There's now a custom close reason for this class of questions:

Questions covering tasks normally performed by travel agents such as constructing travel and tour itineraries (including scheduling and budgeting) are off-topic. They are generally too specific to your personal preference, with many variables and possibilities, and are probably not helpful to others. See also The WANTA debate.

To further guide the users, there's a bullet point in the Help Center

  • asking to have your travel itinerary constructed, including flight scheduling, budgeting and finding accommodation. Such questions cannot be answered as there are too many variables and personal preferences to account for, and are unlikely to be of use to others. An actual travel agent may be of assistance.
19

I personally disagree to a certain extent. Of course extremely broad questions (e.g. what can I see in England) should be closed, because it is easy to get this information from other sources (travel guides, wikitravel, etc.) Also, if an online tool can do the job (e.g. find flight, hotel, train, etc.) then I agree - it is not an interesting question.

However, planning holidays is an integral part of travelling and so I think our site should cater for it as well. Planning backpacking type of holidays is different from getting a package from a travel agent, so you can't really redirect people there. Most guidebooks I came about are fairly useless when you have certain constraints or interests.

For example this question here: https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/19491/two-day-overnight-trip-from-london-in-early-january The person asking is looking for an outdoor destination that is not only possible to reach by public transport from London, but also you don't need a car when you are there. Moreover, it must be possible to go there in the winter. Where else do you want to find an answer to this question? Of course, every answer must be subjective. But apart from some legal questions, every answer will be. I remember Joel said that these recommendations become obsolete with time, but this is true for every answer. I would even say that it less true for this question then for some other valid questions, because for example certain transport connections may disappear overnight, whereas Snowdonia will be still there.

Even on the flagship SO people tend go around this ban on recommendations by asking "How can I do X in java", when they are actually after software package that will do it for them. And I don't blame them, getting your dependencies right is an integral part of developing software!

I am a bit concerned that the site will become a place to ask questions about legal issues (like US and EU visas), or silly questions (like what is the shortest scheduled flight, Joining the Mile High Club (MHC) - Can I get into trouble?, etc) or the tiny number of actually relevant questions that adhere to the rules (and which get little attention, because they are so specific).

  • The question you reference is poor, as it has well over 50 possible answers, quite likely over 100! Any answer to that will be subjective and likely to be a list... – Gagravarr Aug 9 '13 at 12:13
  • 1
    I largely agree with @Grzenio. Traveling is not computer programming or science. What's appropriate on a site for geeks or nerds is probably not appropriate for general public topics like travel. Let's be reasonable and pragmatic. – user3470 Aug 9 '13 at 17:06
  • @Gagravarr, it is actually difficult to find an outdoor destination easily reachable by public transport... – Grzenio Aug 12 '13 at 7:49
  • 2
    There are some places in Scotland that can only be reached by public transport (train), as there's no roads! For other bits of the country, a tightly focused question should be fine. Anything that has 50+ possible answers is not a good fit here! – Gagravarr Aug 12 '13 at 19:03
10

I largely agree with you.

Just remember to mention that it's not that asking questions is bad, or even asking n00bish / beginner / dumb questions is bad, merely that questions that can only help that one person aren't really suitable for this website, which is about sharing information with the entire internet.

  • 1
    Agree. Some perfectly good questions (n00b or expert) are just better suited to forums, not Q/A sites. – Mark Mayo Supports Monica Aug 7 '13 at 13:10
  • 1
    Ok, but a great plan or itinerary will help more than one person. – user3470 Aug 9 '13 at 20:37
4

I just asked this:

https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/87320/options-for-travelling-from-amsterdam-to-walldorf-germany

a few hours ago, and it was based on lots and lots of similarly-worded questions which came up in search. I didn't ask for a specific itinerary, so it had not occurred to me my question would be against site policy: It's a question about comparing Modes of Travel between places, based on a real travel problem I'm having (I'm quoting the FAQ/Tour here of course).

So, I believe it's likely that people ask these qestions in good faith, and are penalized for having gotten the impression that this not the policy. If these questions are unacceptable, that needs to be much clearer.

  • 2
    The problem is that you ask What's the best option for me? but it's not clear what tradeoffs you are willing to make, nor whether you prioritize time, convenience, comfort, cost, scenery/experience, or other factors. – choster Feb 3 '17 at 0:05
  • 2
    Actually, I see you de-prioritize comfort. But it remains that the question is very broad, and has no "definitive" answer that can be given— only options, of which the "best" answer comes down to your personal preference. This is not the way StackExchange answers are supposed to be selected, ideally. – choster Feb 3 '17 at 0:08
  • @choster: Your criticism may be valid, but it's not about the off-topic'ness of the question. – einpoklum - reinstate Monica Feb 3 '17 at 0:18

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .