First of all, I really like this questions - most of them are really interesting. Our community has much travel experience and these questions got good answers.
But would these questions also help future visitors?
IMHO an example for a good questions is What town is in the Samsung Galaxy S default wallpaper? because if someone google "samsung galaxy s default wallpaper" could find the answer on Travel SE.
But What city is this? would hardly help any future visitor. Should we close these questions as too localized?


3 Answers 3


I've not thought about it like that, and you raise a good point.

The Samsung question's original title was 'What town is in this photo?" which was just as useless to future users, so at the time I changed its title to be more beneficial - as you've described. However, how to do this for the Hong Kong one? I'm not sure.

This has come up in the past and we surmised that we need to strike a balance. Yes, we can vote to close as too localised, but others it may be useful for. So if someone has a photo of a waterfall somewhere in Venezuela and wants to visit it, why not? Or a temple in Mongolia that's on the cover of a book, they may need help identifying it. We can certainly reword those.

However, the city one? The one POTENTIAL benefit is that someone searching with google images or tineye may then find our site when matching it, and will see the description. So it can still help future users that way.

  • We can vote as too localized? I've thought we can't. Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 12:31
  • could, rather. Goes with the sentence "This has come up in the past". I guess if we decided they were bad now, they'd just be off-topic.
    – Mark Mayo
    Commented Aug 20, 2013 at 13:13

These questions are good and tolerated even though they are too localized for two reasons (in my opinion):

  • They are like quizzes, and who doesn't like quizzes?
  • They give good tips to people on where to travel, most of them are interesting or bizarre places.

Identify-this questions have a history on Stack Exchange. On Gaming, they were controversial for a long time, with the site founder hating them. After much debate, they were eventually banned following a vote with a short majority in favor of the ban. The issue remains controversial.

On Science Fiction and Fantasy, identification questions have always been allowed and are overwhelmingly well-received by the community. This hasn't changed over time. Identification questions are also welcome on Movies & TV and Anime & Manga, though with perhaps a little more opposition than on SF&F.

In order to determine whether identification questions are too localized, there are two aspects to consider.

  • Will others have the same question?
    There has to be some element of notability about the thing that is being identified. It should be a historical monument or geographic feature, or at least it should have characteristic architecture. If I post a picture of my house and ask you the street address, it's too localized, nobody else will care. But if it's a recognizable monument or a distinctive landform, there's a good chance that others will search for it.
    From my experience as a moderator on SF&F, I can tell you that identification questions get plenty of “me too” answers. There are other people who search for book or movie plot elements and are happy enough to find the answer that they let us know. These people don't tend to stick around, however.

  • Will the people who have this question be able to find it in a search?
    This may be more difficult to ensure. On SF&F and M&T and A&M, most identification questions are based on plot elements. Those are expressed in words that people search for. Searches based on pictures are a lot harder. Search engines let you search based on the exact same picture, or simple transformations like cropping and color corrections, but take a picture from a different angle and it won't be found.

On this basis, I think that identification questions are ok, but must be held to a standard of searchability. There has to be something beyond the photo. Often a description of the photo would provide enough search fodder, so if you see an identification question with little more than a photo, please edit it to add a description of the salient elements of the photo.

  • 2
    On the blogs and podcasts the SE founders often talk about "the long tail", which is kind of the positive reflection of "too localized". This means SE is not intended just to have just a small number of big answers to big commonly asked questions but also a much larger number of small answers to small uncommon questions. Also note that while "too localised" seemed to work pretty well here at travel.SE it apparently didn't work well across the network and was recently abolished. too localized no longer exists as a close reason. Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 4:35
  • SE is primarily about its questions and answers, the community is just a bonus. In fact there are well-known negative side-effects of the community too. So whether any particular type of question also attracts new people to join the community rather than just use the service from time to time is moot. Also you would be surprised how well search engines, especially Google, are at language. Google can handle variant spellings and synonyms and words grouped closer together. I've googled some of my "identify this" questions and found they worked. Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 4:39
  • 1
    I encourage people to state their "identify this" questions with as many relevant words and phrases as possible. Use synonyms or circumlocutions, etc. Editors that don't know the answer should be encouraged to add alternative analyses of the pictures. What looks half-buried to one person might be behind a hill to another person for instance. Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 4:42
  • I'd hardly consider the recent revision to ITG rules at Arqade to be any evidence that the decision 'remains controversial'. We saw an edge case where we could create a narrowly tailored exemption that avoided all of the existing issues with ITG questions, and we revised our rules to allow that edge case to not get caught up in a blanket ban. Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 4:50
  • @LessPop_MoreFizz I admit that I'm not familiar with Gaming, but from what I've seen on SFF and M&TV “the existing issues with ITG questions” are usually bunk. However, this is not the place for debate about Gaming. Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 10:34
  • @Gilles Indeed. And I made no comment about SFF and M&TV. I'm simply and specifically rejecting your comment that they 'remain controversial' on Arqade. They Do Not. Commented Aug 17, 2013 at 16:10

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