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So the question about hot air hand dryers has had quite some discussion in comments and votes:

How do you use a traditional hot-air hand dryer so your hands are actually dry afterwards?

it's also currently on hold because the scope is not clear. Now, as the creator of the question, I obviously have a bias because I created it, but I don't really see how this is out of scope.

The help center mentions health and safety issues related to travel. Proper hand hygiene is a health issue, that much we can agree on, I hope. I mean, there are questions about squat toilets (which can also be found around the world, even in western nations like France), toilet paper (which is also found around the world), bidets (also found around the world), cold showers (also taken around the world),... I don't really see a reason why all of these would be allowed, yet the hand dryer afterwards isn't.

But related to travel might be harder to defend. My argument for this is that most people are not going to have one of these at home: they're loud, expensive, ineffective and require a power outlet in your toilet. Most people are going to come into contact with them while they're not at home: in the train station, at a restaurant, in their hotel, in a rest stop along the motorway,... And we already established in a previous question (Should we allow questions that fit "what can I ask about here?" that don't come from an intent to travel?) that domestic tourism is also considered helpful:

As long as it's something travellers would want to know (tipping, transport) then yes, I agree, valid.

I would argue that how to dry your hands if you have to use an inconvenient device is something travellers would want to know, especially if they are unfamiliar with the device. I mean, people also wash their hands at home, but they usually don't use one of these devices afterwards.

As it stands, I do not personally see a reason why this question is on hold as out of scope. I am curious to know how others interpret this question and the related scope discussion.

How does the above question and any potential related questions translate to a scope?

  • Why the downvote, people? – JoErNanO Jun 7 '16 at 12:38
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    The main problem with air dryers is that they're used pretty much everywhere worldwide. Likewise it would be silly to ask about how to use soap or running water. – JonathanReez Jun 7 '16 at 14:32
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    @JoErNanO downvotes on meta sometimes mean "I disagree", though for me I'm of the opinion that the main site question is pretty silly, and that the meta question is pretty silly too. – Andrew Grimm Jun 10 '16 at 11:49
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I mean, there are questions about squat toilets (which can also be found around the world, even in western nations like France), [...] I don't really see a reason why all of these would be allowed, yet the hand dryer afterwards isn't.

"Some other question was allowed so mine should be, too!" is a very weak argument. In this case, look. If you're used to sit-down toilets and don't know how to use a squat toilet, your life is going to be very difficult if you visit a place where squat toilets are the norm. You need advice about that. There is no reasonable alternative to going to the toilet. Now suppose that you don't know how to use a warm-air hand dryer (a device which, by the way, couldn't have a much simpler user interface). What happens to you? You dry your hands on your trousers, or wait five minutes for them to dry in the air, and you get on with your day with nothing more than a trivial inconvenience.

But related to travel might be harder to defend. My argument for this is that most people are not going to have one of these at home [...] And we already established in a previous question [...] that domestic tourism is also considered helpful

In that case, everything outside your home is travel, and restricting the site to questions that are "about travel" is essentially meaningless because it's no restriction at all. Something being outside your house does not make it "domestic tourism". For example, most people do not have a secretary at home but questions about what it's reasonable to ask a secretary to do for you are not questions about travel (even though you travelled to get to work) and they don't belong here.

  • Travelling to work is not exactly domestic tourism. I'm not saying that ALL things outside of the house should be considered domestic tourism. From meta.travel.stackexchange.com/questions/383/…: "Travel implies a (usually relatively short) temporary visit to a new place" i.e. not to work, but yes to a restaurant or the beach. If this definition is not accurate, I suggest we refine it until it is. That's precisely the reason I asked this question: to refine the scope: what is travel and what is not travel? – Nzall Jun 7 '16 at 14:27
  • Suppose you don't know how to use a sit down toilet. You could just squat on it as reports of doing so can be read. Does that make how to use a sit down toilet off-topic or not? After all you could just squat on it all the time and nothing would happen probably. I think not having one at home is a red-herring and muddied the question somewhat. – Berwyn Jun 7 '16 at 14:27
  • @Berwyn People get seriously injured by falling off sit-down toilets while trying to squat on them. I've no objection to questions about how to use sit-down toilets. – David Richerby Jun 7 '16 at 14:35
  • @Nzall It is impossible to come up with a precise definition of what is and is not travel. It will always be "Travel is whatever the community as a whole decides to accept as travel; here are some guidelines about what questions people are likely to accept or not." This is real life, not computer programming. It's not governed by a precise, exhaustive set of rules. – David Richerby Jun 7 '16 at 14:37
  • @DavidRicherby Then how should we know which questions are in-scope and which ones aren't? The Aperture Science method of "Throw it at the wall and see what sticks"? I hate spending time on a question that I'm wondering about, asking it, spending a few hours monitoring it and making comments and edits about the topic and then finding that my question is closed because I didn't account for an edge case of the scope. That's just discouraging for later questions, especially if you thought the question was fine because of apparent precedent. – Nzall Jun 7 '16 at 14:42
  • @Nzall You just have to use your judgement. You cannot expect your interaction with other human beings to be governed by rigid, unambiguous rules. – David Richerby Jun 7 '16 at 15:06
  • Might just be my Asperger's talking, but individual judgement sounds like a horrible method. Like, I understand that we can't pour everything into rules (even though I think we should), but individual judgement, based on the precedent set by all of those questions that I mentioned in this meta question, has made me think that the hand dryer question is within the scope of the question. you say that precedent is a very weak argument, but in my opinion, it is actually a very strong argument. Why else would judges, lawyers and juries use that argument in a courtroom? – Nzall Jun 7 '16 at 18:12
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    @Nzall "individual judgement sounds like a horrible method" It's all we've got and all we can ever have. Legal precedent is a rather different animal. The analogue of legal precedent is "The last time we had a question about X, we did Y, so we should do Y with this question about X, too." Your argument is "The last time we had a question about X, we did Y. Now we have a question about Z and we should do Y again." As an argument, that's almost circular: it's essentially "I believe that X and Z are similar. Therefore, we should treat X and Z as similar." – David Richerby Jun 7 '16 at 19:30
  • It also has the problem that standards change over time. Many old questions would be closed as unsuitable if they were posted today, but it's not a good use of anybody's time to go back and close them. – David Richerby Jun 7 '16 at 19:30
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    Ultimately, StackExchange isn't a court of law. People vote to reopen/close questions based on whatever criteria they see fit, and while we can discuss those decisions and their rationale, we can't force anyone to be persuaded by precedent. – Zach Lipton Jun 9 '16 at 21:03

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