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asalamon74 asked:

Where can I find information about tipping etiquette in different countries?

That question was closed, mainly because Stack Exchange is not a search engine... we're here to provide answers to questions about travel, not questions about where to find things on the Internet. If the question stood, the perfect answer would have been a link to another site. That solves asalamon74's problem, but leaves a bad page on the Internet. Any other internet user who stumbles on this page will be disappointed, because the page adds no information, it's just a stumbling block on the way to the real answer. You would hope that such a page never came up in a search result.

In a sporting attempt to improve, he then asked:

What are the tipping etiquette in different countries? How much tip should I give to a waiter/waitress?

I appreciate the effort, but there are actually two problems with this:

  1. It's a request for a list. Requests for lists become very, very messy. You get random people throwing out random facts ("When I was in New Zealand, once I left 10%...") and it's very very hard to sort them out.

  2. It's not a real question. It doesn't reflect an actual problem than asalamon74 is actually having. Therefore, answering it is just an exercise in copying information from one place on the internet to another place, which is just make-work. If you're bored and need something mindless to do, please come wash my car; I'll even pay you :-)

So how do you resolve this?

  • "How much should I tip under every possible circumstance" sounds like you're trying to build a travel encyclopedia or reference work. Stack Exchange is not a traditional reference work like Wikipedia or WikiTravel, both of which attempt to do this. We are not competing with them. We're trying to fill in the gaps that they don't already cover. The way we do this is by being a Q&A site, where people ask questions that they can't find the answers to elsewhere. By asking people to limit themselves to "real" questions that reflect problems they are absolutely actually having, we ensure that we're not just duplicating information readily available elsewhere through the magic of the Googles.

An example of a tipping questions which would fit in here perfectly:

How much should I tip a taxi driver in Israel for a trip from the airport to downtown Tel Aviv? Last time I gave 20 shekels and the guy acted strange.

See? It's a real question. Someone Googling for "tip taxi tel aviv airport" would find it right away, and it would help them. If the information was readily available in one of the six billion travel guides online, it never would have been asked.

Anyway, thanks to everyone here on the beta who is working hard to build a terrific travel site. I'm looking forward to this being a terrific resource for all the "long tail" detailed knowledge about traveling the world which is not already covered elsewhere.

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Sorry for the tipping questions, I promise I won't try the third time.

The question was inspired by the following question: https://photo.stackexchange.com/questions/496/what-do-all-those-cryptic-number-and-letter-codes-in-a-lens-name-mean. Instead of asking about lenses one by one, photo.stackexchange has one community wiki question about lens naming and all the specific questions are closed as duplicates. Personally I find this photo.stackexchange solution useful, because I have to check only one question when I need info.

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    Lens attributes are so common that the question is much narrower than a question about tipping everywhere. – Nicole Jun 25 '11 at 18:45
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I agree that very specific questions should be preferred to making them too overly generic.

Remember, the lifeblood of this site is search — and if someone is searching for "Tipping in Beijing, China," I sure would like them to find this site.

It seems like a LOT of questions on this site could easily be distilled down to "how do I find out how to …?" — Is that what we really want?

One of the mantras of every Stack Exchange is to ask SPECIFIC questions about problems you actually have. That should go doubly-so for the Travel Stack Exchange.

There are about 200 countries and 1,000's of intermediate destinations. A travel site chock-full of interesting advice tailored specifically to all the fascinating places around the world would be infinitely more interesting than a watered-down list of hackneyed questions that could be asked by anyone.

A stackoverflow-like site with a huge database of fantastically-detailed, long-tailed questions would be a wonderful diversion from generic travel chit-chat sites. That's how we're going to hold the interest of the expert road-warriors we are trying to attract.

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I think tipping questions are fine if they are about a specific situation in a specific country or group of nearby or related countries. Probably fine also to ask about all situations in a specific area too.

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I stumbled upon this and even if it's a very old discussion I'd like to leave here my two cents.

Joel Spolsky says:

If the question stood, the perfect answer would have been a link to another site. That solves asalamon74's problem, but leaves a bad page on the Internet. Any other internet user who stumbles on this page will be disappointed, because the page adds no information, it's just a stumbling block on the way to the real answer.

This is totally broken. I'm sure you are all aware of this but search engines like Google sort results of a query giving more importance to those pages that have the more links from other pages. From Google support

Relevancy is determined by over 200 factors, one of which is the PageRank for a given page. PageRank is the measure of the importance of a page based on the incoming links from other pages. In simple terms, each link to a page on your site from another site adds to your site's PageRank. Not all links are equal: Google works hard to improve the user experience by identifying spam links and other practices that negatively impact search results. The best types of links are those that are given based on the quality of your content.

So, saying that a link to another page "it's just a stumbling block on the way to the real answer" it's totally broken. It actually helps ALOT in finding the right answer.

The second misconception is:

The way we do this is by being a Q&A site, where people ask questions that they can't find the answers to elsewhere.

For 99,99999999% of the questions on *.stackexchaage you could have easily found an alternate answer in a blog, in %wiki%, in official sites, etc.

In conclusion, to me, the reason why

Where can I find information about tipping etiquette in different countries?

it's not a good question whatsoever (and not only on travel.SE) it's because is way too broad and even unanswerable in a reasonable amount of time by a community like travel.SE.

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    "For 99,99999999% of the questions on *.stackexchaage you could have easily found an alternate answer in a blog, in %wiki%, in official sites, etc." I totally agree. A good indicator for this is the fact that nearly all the questions are answered (4155 out of 4174 as of today) – user3470 May 18 '13 at 9:09

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