What is the rationale for requiring White House tours be scheduled through a member of Congress? was recently closed as being off topic while Why are balloons prohibited at Amsterdam Schiphol? is apparently on-topic.

I think that's silly. If one is on topic they should both on topic and conversely if one is off topic they should both be off topic imho.

I mentioned the balloons question in the white house question and was told "well at least the balloons question is about airports". The white house question is about a tourist destination. That's what airports are. Tourists go to the airport and then go elsewhere.

This isn't some "why is the sky blue?" type question. That has nothing to do with travel because the sky isn't some specific tourist destination. But the white house is.

If questions about tourism aren't travel related then why not close every question in the https://travel.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/tours category?

  • 3
    I saw the close votes about an hour ago and was umming a bit since then. I think there's a line we need, but I don't know what it is so I'm not writing an answer. My current evolution of thinking - perhaps the first is more about procedural admin (literally asking about paperwork for paperwork) while balloons at Schipol might directly (1 degree of separation) affect travellers. If we asked why did it take three councillors to ban the balloons, that would be equivalent. I don't know, I'm just postulating here...and I'm post a flight so tired ;)
    – Mark Mayo
    Sep 6, 2015 at 11:04
  • 1
    (short version - good meta question, don't know the answer myself yet)
    – Mark Mayo
    Sep 6, 2015 at 11:04
  • 2
    I've seen people bristle over white house questions before. Also see meta.travel.stackexchange.com/questions/3289/… . It often feels like some people feel questions about things for US citizen only destinations in the US don't really count as travel.
    – CMaster
    Sep 7, 2015 at 12:59
  • 2
    Hello, I initiated the close vote. I probably would have suggested the balloon question be closed as well rather than both were left open, but my comment "at least it's an airport" should not be taken too seriously. I simply don't think the question about white house procedures as expressed has any bearing on a traveller. If you wanted to say "What are the practicalities for arranging a White House tour?" I think that would be a fine question. I have nothing against USA questions and I visit the USA many times each year so I am very happy to see more questions about travelling in USA.
    – Calchas
    Sep 7, 2015 at 14:27

2 Answers 2


Clearly, asking about visiting the White House should be acceptable. It's a travel question in the same way than many earlier questions about tourist destinations. But, at the same time, “why” questions (and other trivia questions) are stretching the StackExchange Q&A model a bit. It's not about a practical problem someone is facing and it invites speculation rather than an objective “solution”.

Still, there are now entire sites (history, politics) devoted to these types of questions. Even Travel does accept some like the one about Schiphol you found and it's indeed silly that this one would remain open when the White House question was promptly closed.

So the inconsistency is hard to defend but closing “why” questions is not completely absurd. Beyond that, the truth is that it's probably a matter of luck, of who looks at the question and whether five people in a row vote to close (or reopen) it.


I think that "why" questions are not just fun, but actually useful. If you can understand the rationale for why things are the way they are in some cases, then you're more likely to predict correctly what is or isn't allowed in other circumstances.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .