We occasionally get questions on track closures, strikes and weekend works that cause interruptions to trains, buses etc.

For example, today we have:

Going from Frankfurt Airport to Mainz by train - DBahn Strike?

I'm uncertain, but I wonder about the usefulness of these questions. They're useful to one person, maybe a few others get to read it, and then the week passes and they're no longer useful to anyone else, and indeed, may be confusing.

We have some others about safety in Egypt etc, but for now I'd like to focus on these inherent short-term questions.

Certainly they could be reworded - 'what alternatives do I have IF there is a strike', but in the present form I feel we should consider them out of scope.


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    Er, to the downvoter, this is a discussion, on meta. If you disagree with something, comment! :) – Mark Mayo Nov 7 '14 at 4:06

The tag whose name I hate, is the tag for these. We can have an opinion on just how short term or widespread these effects need to be, I suppose. I would like to close these questions as obsolete when they are over, but I don't believe we have that as a reason at the moment.

There are only 19 questions with that tag right now. I think worries about leaky nuclear reactors, revolutions, invasions, and Ebola are legitimate questions to ask here and tag with that. They cover entire countries (in the mind of the asker; often the answer is of the form "that only matters if you're in this area of this city") and the risks involved are serious, including dying. Worries about delay because of a one-day strike are less legitimate, in my opinion. We don't have a good "too localized - not useful to anyone else" reason to trot out for these.

Our three custom close reasons are

  • price-shopping for specific goods or services
  • immigration
  • constructing travel and tour itineraries

I would really like to add these two (even though I actually want the system as a whole to have them.) See https://travel.meta.stackexchange.com/a/1401/46. If we drop immigration because the site now exists, so we can use "belongs on another site in the network", we could add Obsolete. In a pinch, we could close some event-based-effects questions as obsolete the moment they were asked - our wording could be something like "new answers are no longer possible or no longer useful to new readers".

  • btw it's not a one day strike, but a four-days-strike :) – Dirty-flow Nov 7 '14 at 14:55
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    I was just setting out the two ends of the spectrum. A four day strike is more severe than a one. A plane strike is more severe than trains since generally you could find alternates (eg bus) to train, but due to length, going overwater etc there are few alternatives to planes. Dying is worse than extending your trip or having to set out earlier in the morning to be sure not to miss your flight. Etc. – Kate Gregory Nov 7 '14 at 15:32
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    Removing “immigration” from the custom closing reasons is an excellent idea, as it leads to a lot of cross-posting (question gets closed and reposted before it can get properly processed) but unfortunately, expats being in beta, I think it's still impossible to list it explicitly under “belongs on another site in the network”. – Relaxed Nov 11 '14 at 13:58
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    Constructing travel/tour itineraries is sort of applicable, isn't it? That's basically what they're asking in a sort of way: how do I [do my travel] working around a strike. – Joe Nov 11 '14 at 18:03
  • I hate that tag more than you hate it!! – hippietrail Nov 20 '14 at 12:40
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    My gut feeling is that "event based effects" lasting on the order of at least half a year are not too localized. Also regularly or irregularly recurring "event based effects" are not localized at all. – hippietrail Nov 20 '14 at 12:48

I think that it really depends. The problem is that in some places (cough France cough), strikes are so common that forbidding questions about them would be like forbidding questions about traffic jams.

I think the question should be general enough to be applicable to other similar strikes in the same country / system. For example, the way how all French railway (SNCF) strikes look like is really similar, and questions about them should easily be applicable to further strikes as well.

The question in question could be re-worded to something like: How can I know which trains get cancelled in Germany when DB is affected by a strike?

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    I'm all for forbidding questions about traffic jams ;) – Mark Mayo Nov 10 '14 at 23:37
  • But yes, the rewording option is much better. – Mark Mayo Nov 10 '14 at 23:54
  • Questions about "often strike-affected" areas should be OK but questions about specific given strikes should not be. Extremely extended strikes could be an exception, say something as long as the UK miners' strike in the 1980s, but affecting travel. – hippietrail Nov 20 '14 at 12:44
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    @hippietrail Agreed, I tried to reflect it in "the question should be general enough to be applicable to other similar strikes in the same country". – yo' Nov 20 '14 at 12:47

Some (most?) of these questions have led to perennial answers (e.g. about rules for compensation, pointing out where you can find information, etc.) that still apply to other strikes and irregular operations beyond the one event that led to the question.

Two examples:

In some cases, we could ask people to formulate questions a bit more broadly to allow for such answers but enacting a formal rule would seem counterproductive to me.

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    I do try to ask general questions where I can ;-) – Gagravarr Nov 11 '14 at 18:57

Rewording into a more general question seems to be a good way to go. Dirty-flow is worried about the impossibility of a general answer but I don't think that really holds.

In fact, we could even reword the question to completely avoid strikes. For example,

Question: How can I get to London Heathrow during a train strike?

Answer: Take the tube, a bus, a National Express coach or a taxi.

could be edited to

Question: How can I get to London Heathrow?

Answer: Take the train, the tube, a bus, a National Express coach or a taxi.

At least in the UK, a strike isn't going to take out more than one or two of those (it's illegal to strike on somebody else's behalf, so the bus drivers can't strike just because the train drivers want a pay rise) so most of the answer remains valid. One could even edit the answer to include information such as which of the forms of transport would be likely to be reliable in adverse conditions.


I think we could close or lock these questions when they become obsolete.

I don't like the idea of rewording them - the alternatives may vary from strike to strike and a general answer is not possible.

  • locking might work as well as closing for the obsolete/over situations. – Kate Gregory Nov 7 '14 at 15:32
  • Having questions that become obsolete is fine. We can close but not delete them. Having questions with obsolete answers is fine. We can bring new attention to them and downvote the stale answers. Having questions which are going to become obsolete shortly after asking just seems like a bad idea. – hippietrail Nov 20 '14 at 12:47

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