I recently saw https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/39245/looking-for-a-book-only-remember-cover-explorer-standing-on-mountain-looking-a

This question was vague, had only few clues and it was hard to come up with a valid response for even experts from our group, however I was surprised at the reason why it was closed.

"This question appears to be off-topic because it is about a book", shouldn't it have been closed as being "Too Broad", the reasons for close are also indications for future questions and hence I just felt it would be worthwhile clarifying.

Note: I did go through Are questions about book recommendations really offtopic? however there the issue was it wasn't specific about the requirement itself.


The problem is - for example, as one of the closers, I didn't choose "off topic. I chose 'unclear' as there wasn't enough information. However I believe if the majority or possibly the first vote is off topic, then it shows the reason as off topic. Which is a frustrating bug.

  • Oh! did not realise this was because of a bug, thanks for pointing, just out of curiosity would stackapps be the place to ask for a fix, or Meta Stackexchange – skv Dec 2 '14 at 4:17
  • Probably meta.SE, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's been asked for before. – Mark Mayo Dec 2 '14 at 4:26
  • @skv 1. It's not a bug, that's how the system is intended to work; it lists the close reason chosen by the most people. 2. You can use your per site meta for reporting bugs and submitting feature requests, even if they're likely to affect the entire network of sites. – Anthony Grist Dec 10 '14 at 11:15
  • 'not a bug, it's a feature' - must be a developer ;) – Mark Mayo Dec 10 '14 at 11:19

I don't think it makes much sense to close it as “too broad” or unclear. The question provides lots of information.

This book is about the visual influence of exploring and traveling, it shows works by photographers and graphic designers, illustration, all inspired my nature and exploring.

That's quite specific in my book. Someone who actually knows the book should be able to answer immediately and unambiguously.

Obviously, it's not googlable, you either know the answer or you don't (I don't) but that's a good thing and precisely the type of things for which you need a site like this one.

  • So is that a reopen candidate now? I would love to be able to ask such questions really – skv Dec 4 '14 at 9:04
  • @sky There is still the whole book recommendation/off-topic aspect. I don't mind such questions personally that but it could possibly be a reason to close this one. – Relaxed Dec 4 '14 at 10:18
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    I know votes work differently on meta but an explanation for the downvote would still seem helpful in this case. I am not even voicing an opinion about whether the question should be closed or not (which could validly be up or downvoted) but just making a completely factual point. Can anybody seriously dispute the fact that the description I quoted is quite specific? – Relaxed Dec 5 '14 at 16:05
  • @Relaxed, it's a good answer and clearly the d/v originates from somebody that is upset from a prior 'altercation'. It's a big downside to SO overall that answers with merit are obscured by the vengeance and punishment dynamic. +1 to neutralize it. – Gayot Fow Dec 7 '14 at 18:31

At the risk of nitpicking, Travel.SE can be a bit unfair to some people with some interesting questions. Please consider this description...

Q&A for road warriors and seasoned travelers

That's what people see when they call up a description of the site. And what does it convey? It conveys that there's a site where one can find expertise given by seasoned travellers. What kind of television shows do seasoned travellers like to watch? I.e., no restrictions.

Then they click 'Ask a Question' and they get this advisory...

We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed.

So far so good. No restrictions there. It's not intuitively obvious to chase down a link trail to the 'help centre'. So they ask a question about a travel book for which there is a definite answer and likely to be cached in the memory of a seasoned traveller and BAM suddenly there's lots of close reasons having to do with 'off topic'. How fair is that?

Change the advisory to

We prefer questions that can be answered, not just discussed. For favoured topics, please see https://travel.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic

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    Sadly that text 'we prefer questions that can be answered, not discussed' is common across the entire SE site, we can't customise it ourselves :( – Mark Mayo Dec 5 '14 at 3:07
  • Probably a silly question, but will they allow you to add another line beneath it? – Gayot Fow Dec 5 '14 at 3:29
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    @MarkMayo I would like to point that SE is gradually relaxing that norm, not may be for every site, but we had this discussion in Puzzling recently and moreover CodeReview is all about discussion (though it was meant to be a discussion from day 0) – skv Dec 5 '14 at 5:14
  • meta.puzzling.stackexchange.com/a/1612/2313 is the answer from the community director indicating that SE is slightly flexible now with the formats – skv Dec 5 '14 at 6:02
  • Yeah fairly sure he's just referring to puzzling there. As he points out, puzzling wouldn't work if they didn't. Similar to some of the approaches seen on codegolf. But they're built for that (community-wise). – Mark Mayo Dec 5 '14 at 10:39
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    @GayotFow nothing silly about that, if you make a new meta post and tag it feature-request they'll usually respond and take a look (I'd vote it up). Of course, whether or not people read that statement, given how many people put questions in answer posts, is a different story :/ – Mark Mayo Dec 5 '14 at 10:40
  • @MarkMayo, I'm grateful for your offer to upvote a feature-request, but 939 days on SO to date have taught me that it's the fastest way to draw vengeance and punishment down votes. If Travel.SE can't do it without a feature-request, we should drop the idea. BUT, and a very big BUT, I would love to see the answer to the OP's question. Totally love it. – Gayot Fow Dec 5 '14 at 22:25
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    @GayotFow oh yeah, meta.SO is scary, but fortunately I'm talking about OUR meta.travel.SE :) We've raised a few in the past (eg wikitravel links auto expand in the chat) and had them approved, and it's a bit less scary, I think :) – Mark Mayo Dec 6 '14 at 1:46
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