I think I have said it before but I still have difficulties understanding the hostility to “immigration” questions on Travel S&E. I think there is a lot of overlap and just merging/welcoming the topics discussed in the expat proposal would be the best way to get it off the ground while helping this site grow and attract more expertise and good content. With a handful of questions every day, it's not like the site would become unmanageable.

The most puzzling aspect of this problem is that I really cannot see any meaningful difference between questions that get quickly disposed of (OK, it's called “on hold” now but it's still a slap in the face) and others that were allowed to live and went on to receive useful answers (thus proving it was not an absurd thing to ask in the first place).

For example, what's the difference between the following three questions?

It seems you need to carefully explain that you're specifically interested in short-term work, you're an insider who knows the rules of the site and you want to travel the world with as little communication as possible with those nasty creatures known as “expats” to avoid seeing your question shot on sight because it says “work”. Turns out the last question really was about working while traveling and should definitely be reopened under any reasonable interpretation of current rules on that basis alone but it does illustrate how arbitrary the distinction is and how differently we react based on details that are completely orthogonal to what's actually being asked (myself included as I wrote a since-deleted comment describing the question as off-topic before answering it instead).

Another recent example is Can I enter Spain with a French visa "long sejour"? (questions is not closed as of writing this but it did receive a negative comment). Again, some negative response to the fact that the lady asking is apparently intent on emigrating to Europe. Evidently, you need to travel even if you want to live somewhere and your status as a resident of some country can have consequences for travel in other countries. In all cases, the subject matter is the same: laws and regulations regarding entry and stay in a country. Why draw some arbitrary line based solely on who “feels” like a “traveler” and who seems to be an “expat”?

Other than that, it's the same type of questions, requiring the same type of expertise (namely, as with any visa question, some knowledge of the laws of the destination country). It's perfectly answerable, interesting, objective (objectivity could be a good topic for another rant that I will keep for another day…) and it could be useful to other people. If anything, content-wise, it would make more sense to have a site for air travel, one for mobile phones and one for visas than the sort of identity politics I see here around who counts as an expat. It is simply untrue that questions about this or that sort of visa are fundamentally different from each other or that a question about a short-term visa has more in common with questions about being bumped to business class than with a question about entering a country on a long-term visa.

Shouldn't we just accept these questions? (And please don't just quote a “rule”, we can easily change the FAQ or whatnot if there is a consensus for it. I believe such decisions should be based on actual reasons, not dogma and that just stating “that's the way we do things” is not going to convince anybody of anything.)

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    This has already been explained here: meta.travel.stackexchange.com/a/1479/108. Working holiday questions are fine, longer term work / travel is not and has been voted on by the community multiple times as being off-topic on this site. That answer also contains reasons WHY it's considered off-topic. – Ankur Banerjee Oct 24 '13 at 22:24
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    @AnkurBanerjee I just read or reread all this (commented there as well) and, besides being rather unconvincing, it does not address the specific objections I raised here in any way. Why do we promptly close the question from this guy who never said anywhere he is specifically interested in long-term residence (turned out he wasn't)? Why do we insist on making arcane distinctions when the topic is really the same (i.e. laws regarding entry and stay)? – Relaxed Oct 24 '13 at 22:48
  • Just edited the question to clarify my problem with the sort of rationale detailed in the other question. – Relaxed Oct 24 '13 at 22:56
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    People have to put some effort into their questions if they expect a good answer. Asking without clarity is likely to get a response other than what you wanted, including getting your question closed. Joel and Jeff had a lot to say about this in the blog and podcasts. At least this was a problem with one recent question that got closed as an expat question that was actually about working while travelling but very lazily asked. – hippietrail Oct 26 '13 at 16:22
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    That's irrelevant, and it's not what Annoyed is asking. According to current policy, even an excellently specified question of crystal clarity about (say) whether a traveler needs a work permit in another EU state would be closed as "off-topic". – lambshaanxy Oct 28 '13 at 22:52
  • No it won't. I've asked questions about whether a traveller needs a work permit and I've got others reopened. They just have to be about travellers and not about expats, OPs should put effort into their questions so readers know if that's what they're asking, and would-be closers should be seeking this clarity from the OPs before clicking the close button too fast. – hippietrail Oct 29 '13 at 5:58
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    @hippietrail Working is not relevant to “travel” as most people understand it (i.e. people who clearly have a “base” and go on holiday a few weeks a year or perhaps regularly go a few days at a time on business trips). To the extent that working is relevant, doing it for two months or two years might or might not require different visas in any given country but knowing that will in any case require the same type of expertise (in that case legal expertise). – Relaxed Oct 31 '13 at 23:58
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    For all these reasons, the notion that someone is a “traveller” instead of an “expat” is unrelated to the actual contents of the question. It seems to me that what you are demanding is in effect that people demonstrate they identify with a very narrow community for no good reason. – Relaxed Nov 1 '13 at 0:00
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    I've never said anything about being a "traveller instead of an expat". That's like saying "tall instead of blond". Being an expat is independent to being a traveller. Almost everybody takes a trip at some point, including expats. Very few people ever become expats in comparison to the number who do not. It's not about "identifying". If you're asking how to get a greencard for the US that's not a travel question. If you are a professional diplomat who always lives as an expat in some foreign land but you want to buy a train ticket, that's a travel question. I've said all this before. – hippietrail Nov 1 '13 at 15:18
  • @hippietrail I don't know how to parse the sentence “They just have to be about travellers and not about expats” in any other way. Now, your last comment suggests you meant “it's about travel not about expatriation” but I don't think it's completely innocent that you originally phrased it differently. This is something I get from many comments. Fact is: The distinction is fuzzy and the notion that those are two entirely separate sets of people asking two entirely separate sets of questions is wrong. – Relaxed Nov 4 '13 at 13:28
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    It seems to me that many of our questions (staying for several months at a time, working, transferring money, getting visa outside of your country of origin, etc.) are obviously more related to expatriation than travel as most people understand it. Yet, a few users here seem very intent on drawing a sharp line. That's why I get the feeling this is just as much about identity as it is about content. – Relaxed Nov 4 '13 at 13:33

Finally, I am not alone!. I fully share your concerns and have tried to contest the issue on multiple occasions and always failed so far.

It doesn't make sense. To me immigrant and expat questions belong here, as much as outdoor questions have been asked here without any resistance until a specified stack exchange platform was installed for great outdoor questions. Nobody raised any concerns on outdoor questions similar to the objections against immigrants and expats.

I have given up, in the end it is just another site. Maybe, it is simply sociology, where the users represent the general public. In the real world the topic of immigration often causes non-factual debates, I witness the same patterns here.

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    At this point, the easiest solution is just to promote the Expat proposal - it's had a resurgence in the last week thanks to @hippietrail's efforts in comments. – Mark Mayo Oct 28 '13 at 23:17
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    @MarkMayo It's not so much a “solution” as a part of the problem as far as I am concerned. The best case scenario is yet another small site with a high risk of failure while this one continues to struggle with a very small number of questions and regular users. Far from ideal IMO. But as long as people as so bent on – Relaxed Oct 29 '13 at 10:14
  • good comment and good question by the way. I totally agree with you. And I have even upvoted andra's answer. It tool me some effort, but I finally did it – user3470 Oct 30 '13 at 19:47
  • @Annoyed: You're speculating. My speculation is that that's the worst case and the best case scenario is yet another successful site. Ideal IMO. – hippietrail Oct 31 '13 at 17:53
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    @hippietrail What you do is no specualtion but propaganda against allowing immigration and expat questions. – user3470 Oct 31 '13 at 18:14
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    @user3470 What you do is propaganda against allowing the immigration and expat proposal to succeed and against the travel site deciding its own focus. We could play this game of subjectivity forever but what would be the point ... – hippietrail Oct 31 '13 at 18:55
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    The borders between these topics are floating and allowing immigration and expat stuff here would only beneficial. It will help to keep the site running and alive. – user3470 Oct 31 '13 at 19:42
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    The site is alive and running just fine as it is... – Mark Mayo Oct 31 '13 at 21:08
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    @hippietrail That it must first be a small site and that new SE sites are not all successful is a fact, nothing speculative about that. And even if it manages to survive and get out of beta, I still don't see how that would be “ideal” when travel, the great outdoors and the new site have so much in common and so little content/activity compared to truly successful SE sites. – Relaxed Oct 31 '13 at 23:38
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    @MarkMayo That might be where we differ. Compared to other sites I have used, this one as a very narrow user base, low activity level, many constructive questions being closed for seemingly arbitrary reasons, high reliance on moderation, and lots of debates/complaints/conflicts about what should be allowed, who we are, etc. All this is not “running just fine” in my book. I know some younger sites that seem to be doing much better. – Relaxed Oct 31 '13 at 23:44
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    Typical example: I have seen questions asked by people with reputation in the thousands with many up and downvotes. In a well running site, a question would either seem reasonable to experienced users and that should be good for everybody or it would be obviously difficult to answer and most people would vote it down. That we regularly seem engage in some sort of voting contest whereas there is obviously no consensus that the question is bad is not healthy in my opinion. – Relaxed Oct 31 '13 at 23:50
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    Oh that is easy first hit on google: lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2347530 . But that is not the point. The issue is that this community is unreasonably sensitive to the words expat and immigration. By excluding these communities you exclude a valid source of travel information. Bear in mind that lonely planet authors are often -if not always - expats/immigrants themselves. Since on travel.se the authors are from the community itself I would say that it only makes sense to attract that audience to the expat/immigrant community to this platform. – user141 Nov 1 '13 at 10:28
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    And the expats feature is also of high interest for the "normal" travellers. This shows how blurred the border is – user3470 Nov 1 '13 at 15:01
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    @hippietrail But I do have a simple, practical, constructive suggestion to make both expats.SE and travel.SE more successful, namely merging them! Lots of overlap, more traffic, more users, more content, easier to reach critical mass. The notion that this would involve “subverting” anything only makes sense if you start from the assumption that both topics are fundamentally different and that the end goal is necessarily a separate site for expat questions, a premise I don't share. – Relaxed Nov 4 '13 at 13:53
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    I must admit I don't have much experience with really large sites like SO but reaching this size any time soon is not something we need to worry about anyway. A more apt comparison would be middle-size sites like CrossValidated. I think a somewhat larger community and having a single place to read and answer similar questions (e.g. about visas) is hugely valuable. Therefore, I believe welcoming expat questions would also benefit the travel site and its current users and the contradiction you seem to perceive between my judgment on travel.SE and my opposition to a new site disappears. – Relaxed Nov 4 '13 at 13:54

If "about travelers" and "about expats" have to be kept separate, how do we define each? Which am I, settling somewhere less than a year but longer than "no-visa-required" and then going somewhere else? Getting there is not travel?

How many times have I been told, "This is not travel; you must ask in expats" (where there's nobody to answer).

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    If there's nobody to answer there you need to work on improving the community there just as we did here over five years, or find an expat forum. There seem to be many. It's not about "travelers" anyway it's about "traveling". I don't ask my programming questions here just because I'm a traveller, I ask my travelling questions here, even if I'm at home. Six months is a guideline. Visa required or not is not a definition alone. You don't need a visa to travel in your home country, which is on-topic. If it's about the actual travel it's for here, not if it's about setting up your life overseas. – hippietrail Sep 19 '16 at 1:03
  • This seems like NAA, but this is meta, so I shan’t flag. – Jan Sep 19 '16 at 10:10

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