So, a lot of questions on travel.SE would be helped by knowing where a user is from to understand the context from which the question is being asked. Now, it just occured to me that making that information available could be easily done somewhere in the question interface based on the IP information of the user OR defaulting the location in a user profile based on IP location. Whenever it is truly relevant (like with visa questions) it can always be edited in by a secondary user and the rest of the time it will just allow us to phrase the question in a more appropriate manner. I also do think this is perfectly acceptable from a privacy viewpoint, so all round I believe it would be quite neat feature to request. And of course travel.SE wouldn't be the only sub-SE that could use this feature, it would also be really valuable on academia.SE (US vs Europe academia) and probably others, but before posting on meta.SE I wanted to check what you guys think here.

PS. The reason I am asking is because I got into an argument with another user based on different understandings of the OP and such a feature would have mostly resolved the situation before it even started.


3 Answers 3


This would breach some privacy assumptions, and would also be incorrect for a certain percentage of users. So for these two reasons I would suggest it is not a good idea for SE to do this.

On the privacy side:

  • We would lose members of the community who currently enjoy the partial or full anonymity they have,
  • SE would be subject to many more legal requests for information than is currently the case

On the accuracy side:

  • Quite a number of users route through TOR or multiple hops, so making assumptions based on geolocating IP addresses is fundamentally flawed

So instead of trying to automate a process, just ask the OP for their location if it is relevant to the question.

  • 6
    And, simply, posting from a computer in a country does not mean you have a passport, you are a citizen, or even a resident of that country.
    – Vince
    Mar 15, 2015 at 21:11
  • 1
    Ok, sure, if you guys think it's a bad idea then that's fine with me. Taking into considerations the research by Gareth Owen regarding TOR usage (he set up 40 tor relays and analysed traffic types to determine which things TOR was used for most, nearly none of it was normal usage) I think the TOR argument can be disregarded. Regarding users that value their anonimity: all this data is already available to governments as 1) SE already uses Google Analytics and 2) already logs IPs. Mar 15, 2015 at 23:11
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    Any answer that I would write to explain the status-declined would mostly be a copy of this answer. For questions where location is relevant and not mentioned, a polite request to the OP in the comments should usually solve the problem.
    – Pops
    Jun 17, 2015 at 20:31

This idea has two obvious flaws in my opinion:

  1. Making localisation information available is somewhat a violation of user privacy. Unless this information is available to moderators alone, in which case it wouldn't be as useful as you depict it - one would have to wait for a moderator to add the relative to the question.

  2. IP geolocation is anything but precise. Not only in terms of the coarseness the results, rather there are ISP-related problems such as dynamic IP assignments as well as proxy tunneling which will inevitably render the results of such positional estimates inaccurate. Moreover consider this is a traveller community where people are always on the move. No one guarantees that the OP might be writing the question from their country of citizenship.


In addition to Rory's answer, if someone wants to share his/her real location, he/she simply can edit the location field in the profile page. In many questions, we used that as a reference to answer. This is more accurate, and no privacy issues.

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