First, I agree with the premises of this Meta question and its accepted answer:

There are a lot of questions with factual answers that can be researched online. I can go through travel forums and come up with what I think is a valid conclusion based on what people say.
One of the key values of Travel.SE for me is that I can ask for people that have first hand experience. It really means a lot more to me if someone with an established reputation here can answer a question based on experience (as opposed to researching or using second hand information).

...and its accepted answer:

The benefit of a site like this is that the people on here usually enjoy talking about their experiences, and if they see one like that they'll likely be happy to help. There's no specific way of asking - it all depends on what you're after ... the more detail about what you want as an answer, the better.

This meta question has a similar premise:

Sometimes you need a been there, seen it, done it kind of answer.

However, this question I recently posted is disparaged by multiple users because answers would be "anecdotal information." The question seeks factual information, not subjective opinions. The second paragraph gives very specific criteria and the third paragraph further spells out intended uses that provides another specifying test for what answers would be considered addressing the question (i.e. if the answer could serve the purpose of that knowledge spelled out there).

The question could be answered with business information ("Company X writes here that they sold system Y to cities A, B, and C") or technical engineering information (neo's answer is a step in that direction; interference tests can also be part of engineering specs and tests), though it is most likely to be answered by travelers' direct experiences. That's why it's asked on a site "for road warriors and seasoned travelers" and not on a more technical SE.

Neo explains the decision rule that if a question is asking about something that requires travelers to draw on first hand ("in the wild") experiences, "that's the reason this question is closed here," even if the experience-based answers are about objective facts rather than subjective opinion. Is that a valid reason why a question is closed on this site? It seems like a decision rule that is inconsistent with the descriptions of this site quoted above and elsewhere, but here's the meta question to ask directly.

I put "in the wild" in quotes because places with public transit are generally not "wild" in my usual definition of the term.

Please note this meta question is about the decision rule, and the meta question/discussion is intended to be helpful in a forward-looking sense to help guide what kind of questions can be asked on this site and if the cited reason is/should be a valid reason for closing a question (that can be learned by reading this, before a potential future question is even asked).

2 Answers 2


I think that questions that are answered based on experience are just fine, though they can run the risk of becoming primarily opinion-based if they are entirely about experience rather than facts (e.g. "is it worth it to pay to visit Disney World? or "how good is the food at this random restaurant?").

Indeed, I consider one of the best features of this site the fact that people post answers based on their real-world experiences in distant places, and would hate to see questions closed simply because they happen to call for that experience.

There's likely a compelling argument that the transit card question is "too broad," but there is literally a different meta to discuss that.


You have a faulty premise: "anecdotal" doesn't mean exactly the same as "from experience". Say you want to know when a specific museum opens. The web site says 9am, but you got there at 9:01 and it was closed with no signs explaining anything. So you ask here and someone says that they've been there many times, it runs on "island time" and is usually open by 10. Or that it's open at 9 with a caretaker on site, but you have to knock to get the caretaker to come and unlock the front door for the first visitor. That's an answer from experience.

Now say you ask "are there any pairs of coins from different countries that look alike but are worth a significantly different amount?" You get a ton of "well I'm from X and our coins aren't like anyone else's" answers, which are useless, and one or two stories about how someone's aunt brought back a coin from Italy that looked a lot like a Canadian Toonie only smaller, but that was 20 years ago so maybe Italy doesn't have it any more and besides I forget how much it was worth, also useless. The question is not written in a way that encourages any kind of definitive answer.

Answers here are supposed to be definitive. That might mean based on personal experience, but it doesn't mean anecdotal. It also rules out "I'm compiling a list, everyone chip in suggestions for it."

  • I think the first one could be described as anecdotal too. Also, the question that prompted this one seeks definitive answers, and the fact that they could come from personal experience (not "anecdotal," that was added in to my question, if you're drawing a distinction) "is the reason this question is closed here."
    – WBT
    Commented May 29, 2016 at 6:13

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