Examples: USA China. Both are closed as off-topic, opinion-based. (I note that voters are much more accepting of the idea of unreasonably harsh punishments happening in China than in the USA, but that's out of scope here)

According to the off-topic guidance these questions seem to fit most of the criteria for good subjective questions and none of the criteria for bad ones. Am I missing something?

I notice that other similar "what should I be aware of" questions, or questions where there may be multiple valid answers applicable to different people, are not generally closed. Examples:

  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, or in Travel Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Rory Alsop Mod
    Commented Apr 24, 2023 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


I see not much wrong with either question but as I have a vote hammer (what I vote is going to happen in this kind of voting) I have decided not to step in and let the community decide.

Many questions go through a close and re-open sequence, I bet that these questions will get re-open votes when someone starts them. (And if there are several I will be happy to give a last one.)


I think the biggest issue with 'avoid getting arrested' questions is that they assume that the person is asking for extreme reactions to trivial situations, thus implying that it's easy to get arrested in such-and-such country. This is easily interpreted as merely a thinly veiled attack on the laws and customs of the nation in question or an attack on how they enforce their laws.

Back in my university days I had friend who had a Chinese professor. She was rather outspoken, but very friendly, approachable and obviously inquisitive. They were having some polite discussion after going over a homework question or something like that, and her professor suggested that she ought to visit China someday. To paraquote, she said something along the lines of, "Knowing me, I'd say something stupid and get myself thrown in jail." He was obviously very upset about this remark (I laughed when she told me about this - we were very young and naive).

The reality is that if you apply common sense, and don't do anything that would certainly be illegal in your own home country, the chances of you 'being arrested' are about the same in both - likely slim to none. As such the questions aren't really much more than noise, due to the obviousness of the answers, or as I suggested earlier, appearing to be just socio-political prods.

On the other hand, 'being-aware-of' questions refer to considerably trickier and subtle situations where doing such seemingly innocent things as trying to tip a waiter/waitress, clapping after a performance, holding your hands behind your back during a religious event or service, can be severely misconstrued. These questions are perceived to ask for more relevant advice on avoiding mistakes in situations that are relatively common in the day to day life of a visitor/tourist. As such, they far more acceptable and relevant to this site.

  • 5
    I'm afraid this answer appears to contain some unfacts. As we can see by the answers to the US question, there are many normal things someone can do in the US that will get them thrown in jail. For example, it is quite normal to carry alcohol in public and even drink it in public, if you want, as long as you're not being a nuisance. Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 16:55
  • 1
    @user253751, If you truly believe people are commonly and routinely arrested for those 'normal' things in the USA, then you should expect all such questions implying that kind of conclusion to receive the same relative degree of treatment on this site. Maybe your question/implications would have be a better fit for Politics.se? They are usually pretty good at seeing through these kind of character attacks, but your question might slip through.
    – ouflak
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 17:09
  • 2
    it appears that your answer and subsequent comment are in fact trying to push an opinion about certain countries. Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 17:10
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    @user253751, "it appears that your answer and subsequent comment are in fact trying to push an opinion about certain countries." An opinion that if you just use common sense and act with the same degree of civility you would in your own country, that you won't have any problems? Well yeah I guess so. In fact, I would say I'm trying to push that opinion about all of the countries of the world. This is Travel.se afterall.
    – ouflak
    Commented Apr 27, 2023 at 17:15
  • 2
    Common sense and civility says you can do many things that the US laws say you can't. For another example, it's quite apparent to almost everyone that you can exchange money if you like. Yet apparently it's illegal in China. Commented Apr 28, 2023 at 15:39
  • "To paraquote, she said something along the lines of, 'Knowing me, I'd say something stupid and get myself thrown in jail.' He was obviously very upset about this remark." Okay, apparently I'm about to show my ignorance: is this not a legitimate concern? I would expect it to be very unlikely, especially for a foreigner, but within the realm of possibility. Commented Apr 29, 2023 at 16:48

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