What do we do with biggest, highest, fastest questions? Under what criteria are they on-topic?

The factoids tag gathers quite a few, e.g.:

Literally speaking, all three are about methods of transportation and should therefore classify as travel, although travel by elevator is stretching the definition. On the other hand, a super-fast elevator is also a tourist attraction in itself. But where do we draw the limit between travel and geographic factoids? Questions about northernmost/highest/etc. may be closed as general reference ( although this one about the easternmost point of Asia was not), but are superlatives in general on-topic (by their virtue of being implicit tourist attractions), or would those fit better in a non-existing geography site?

Hypothethical questions where one could debate whether they are on-topic:

  • What is the longest street in the world?
  • What is the largest museum in the world?
  • What is the longest unperturbed river in Europe?
  • ...etc.

By what criteria would one be on-topic, but not the other?

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4 Answers

I'm not a fan of these questions at all.

Well that's not quite true because I love trivia and they're all interesting (-:

But I can't help but feel that they're not "problems people are trying to solve" with regards to their travels, thus I think they're not the kinds of questions Stack Exchange gave us this site for.

But plenty of mods and other long-term and high-rep users do seem to think they belong and I'm no dictator around here (-;

Anyway that's why I came up with the tag. You could argue that it's a meta tag but I'm very sure it's a useful tag because the same people do seem to be fans of such questions whether they have factoids as a favourite tag or not.

I've been able to give some of them additional tags such as geography but some of them are not so easy to tag.

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Is choosing a destination a valid "problem people are trying to solve"? Is that the main way such questions are troublesome? –  Andrew Grimm Nov 20 '12 at 17:13
    
I would say that's a valid "problem". Not really like a programming problem over on SO but it's our kind of problem. So for some things it really makes sense, like finding the highest or fastest roller coaster you can imagine some people would travel to find such a thing. But would people really travel to find the fastest elevator? Is there place we should draw the line between quirky travel and disguised trivia questions? –  hippietrail Nov 21 '12 at 4:26
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I am not a fan of factoid questions in particular (I don't think I have asked one either). But I do believe they might have some merit. It's possible that someone may want to travel to a destination just to see the biggest / tallest / largest / fastest X. This is just like I believe that it's not necessary for YOU to be travelling to a particular place to be allowed to ask questions about it; as long as it's relevant it's fine.

Factoid questions are 'good' in the sense that they have objective criteria on which they can be judged. 'Opinion' type questions a la "What is your weirdest travel story" are off topic of course.

So while factoid questions aren't ones I particularly enjoy, as long as the superlative can be judged by an objective criteria I think they should be allowed because this can be a reason for travelling in itself.

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Well, there is the difference between the questions you have cited and the hypothetical questions you have given:

All the linked question are either about the means of travel or about something being the tourist attraction itself. I would like to use the fastest elevator or fastest escalator of the world myself. The longest river of the world is the geographic phenomenon itself and is not connected directly to travel - but the longest kayak route of the world is IMHO 100% on topic on travel.SE.

In my opinion, as long as the question is about the tourist attraction, and the answer would help someone to choose the destination for his vacation travel, such questions are on-topic.

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I those those hypothetical questions slightly differently on purpose, to discuss whether the merit of a superlative alone makes it on-topic by the virtue of it becoming a tourist-attraction. Personally, even without kayaking, I'd still be interested when travelling to know that the river I'm crossing is the largest unperturbed river, etc... –  gerrit Nov 17 '12 at 21:13
    
In this case, my answer would also be: yes –  Łukasz 웃 L ツ Nov 17 '12 at 21:24
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Just as @hippietrail, I am not a fan either of these questions. I think that these "superlative" questions are not on topic on a travel site. They would be better on a geography or a records site. But this site has something "democratic" with its voting mechanisms. A majority seems to approve these questions. Moreover moderators and high reputation users support (and sometimes ask) them. Unless there is a change of ideology, we have to live with these questions ...

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