By their nature personal experiences cannot be confirmed (they might be fabricated!) and with 32k users at present there could be rather a lot of Answers provided to a single Question (and some users might offer several each).

For example, I can envisage a question like How long does it take to clear Security at Gatwick? being on topic but wonder whether How long did it take you to clear Security at Gatwick? would be.

Is there a preferred way to ask about first hand experience? mentions first hand experience and the sole answer seems to accept such Questions are on topic, though the Answer is focused on "a preferred way" and the example given by OP is a Question Titled What are the standard border checks when traveling between Warsaw and Berlin by various types of transit, hence not a specific request for personal experience (though in a Comment OP mentioned I'm especially interested in hearing from someone who has recently made this border crossing.).

To Is it true that Canada doesn't stamp foreign passports by default? we already have two experiences posted 1/2hr apart. There are many entrants to Canada and presumably because of the request "Anyone with recent experience?" the most up-to-date is the more relevant. An endless stream of answers seems possible without any counting as duplicates.

Currently (after 15 hours) at a rate of 8 answers per day.


2 Answers 2


Questions that are answered by personal experience are great. Not everything in the world can be sourced back to an authoritative source online (and not everything you can link to online is up to date or accurate), and having someone say, "I was just there and this is what I saw" is quite helpful. Some questions require local knowledge or cultural experience, and getting that knowledge documented on t.se is helpful for future searchers.

I'm not particularly worried about fabricated answers. Anyone else is always free to challenge anything they think is wrong and write their own answer if they have a better one. If one user exhibited a pattern of intentionally spreading disinformation, that's something the mods could address, but that's hardly a frequent occurrence.

Where I think questions run into trouble is when they call for an opinion poll of experiences. "How long did it take you to clear Security at Gatwick?" is one such example: it could have thousands of equally valid answers; it calls for a survey of all personal experiences, rather than being a question that can be answered by personal experience.

In short, answers based on personal experience are great, especially when they document something not otherwise found online, while questions that call for a series of equally valid experiences are problematic.

  • Fabricated answers? Dear Lord, can you point me to an example? And not about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire either.
    – Gayot Fow
    Commented Sep 12, 2016 at 21:29

I apologise for lack of research, since this was never a 'contrived' question.

When voting to Close the options include:

too broad

I was rather interpreting There are too many possible answers as too many different possible answers, partly because of the advice to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs. So "What countries / territories do I require a visa for as a business visitor from UK?" would be too broad but "What Scandinavian countries do I require a visa for as a business visitor from UK?" probably narrows the scope enough since in that case the answer would be at most three countries for which a few paragraphs would seem sufficient.

However, "to narrow the answer set" is also mentioned and though I associate set, when meaning collection, with a single instance of each component of the collection ("tool set", "set of symptoms", "set of priorities" – as mentioned by The Cambridge Dictionary) their other example (in the same set!) is "set of cutlery as a wedding present". So not just one knife, one fork, one spoon but (unless a very paltry wedding present) a number of knives, a number of forks and a number of spoons.

A long-winded way to arrive at please add details to narrow the answer set. Now to get from "How long did it take you to clear Security at Gatwick?" to "How long does it take to clear Security at Gatwick?" does not add details – in fact the latter is shorter by a couple of characters. However, having mentioned a problem I think it is not realistic to mention every way of solving it. If the usual way to do so is to add another constraint then the guidance, IMO, is not misleading for incompleteness.

Help Center > Asking has:

too broad - if your question … has many valid answers, it's probably too broad for our format

Rather than risk an endless stream of answers to one question, questions that may generate them should be closed as too broad. Asking for personal experience when not coupled with some other content that is on topic as a question is too broad.

Note that the addition of relevant personal experience to on topic questions is in no way precluded by the above.

You must log in to answer this question.

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