I'm new here so apologies if there already is a consensus on this that I have overlooked.

Skimming the front page, I see questions that are very localized, while the answers given would work for a much more generic question, one that would be of more interest to future generations.

My question is - would it not be worth re-working these questions into more generalized ones? As a policy?

Examples:

What does the community think?

Obviously, the best and nicest way to go about this would be to ask askers to change the questions themselves.

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I'm voting you up because I think it's a worthwhile question to ask but not because I'm in favour of your proposal in all cases since that would subvert the "long tail" goal of Stack Exchange sites. There may well be cases when it is a good idea though. –  hippietrail Sep 1 '11 at 10:46
    
@hippietrail thanks! :) But don't worry about downvoting - Meta questions are supposed to be "polls", so it's a fair way of expressing disagreement with a proposal. –  Pekka 웃 Sep 1 '11 at 11:48
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Worthwhile question but no - I get hits on my blog for example on a regular basis for people searching for train london manchester. Rarely will people search 'how to get around the uk'. –  Mark Mayo Sep 1 '11 at 12:10

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would say no. Generalized questions have a problem that the scope is too broad, and what's true for transport options available in one region may not apply in another. For instance with the Romania question, there could quite possibly be a big difference in taxi prices and practices within cities in Romania, and this case where there's a border crossing (no regular taxi services? costs more?)

Having a specific questions helps get 'one right answer' and is more useful to question asker than a generic reply.

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But in the cases I show, the answers are already generic. There is no specific local reference. The answer to the taxi question quotes Lonely Planet on prices for taxis on Romania. Would it not make sense to genericize the question in such a case? Of course, on the other hand, that would prevent the later addition of specific answers. Hmm. –  Pekka 웃 Sep 1 '11 at 8:46
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That's where voting comes in. For now, we may have a generic answer to a question which gives a basic idea, but later if/when a more specific answer comes along, it will get voted up. –  Ankur Banerjee Sep 1 '11 at 8:53
    
@Pekka: The Bulgarian taxi question was mine and when I asked I feared it might be too localized but I was stuck at the border and it seemed like a good test question. In my experience borders are one of the places like airports and bus terminals and train stations where taxi drivers are most likely to rip off tourists, or even legitimately have higher than usual costs for whatever reason. Also the answerer had a Lonely Planet to consult but I as the asker did not. –  hippietrail Sep 1 '11 at 8:53
    
A generic answer is often better than no answer, but not an ideal one. For the Romanian case, the comment on the answer indicates it was correct when tried –  Gagravarr Sep 1 '11 at 8:53
    
@Gagravarr I'm not criticizing the answer (nor the question really), I'm just concerned that one day, there might be ten different questions on ten different taxi routes within Romania, all of which may never get more than the same generic answer. That doesn't sound sensible to me. –  Pekka 웃 Sep 1 '11 at 8:57
    
@hippietrail yeah, it's a totally fine question to ask. I'm just thinking that a generic taxi question would be more useful in the future - but maybe one would simply have to ask a new question in that case. Plus, somebody from Rousse might find your question later and know the perfect local answer.... –  Pekka 웃 Sep 1 '11 at 8:58
    
@Pekka: If that does happen then that is what Joel and Jeff (creators of the site) call "the long tail" and they think that's a good thing. –  hippietrail Sep 1 '11 at 9:03
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If we end up with several closely related questions then we can merge them then –  Gagravarr Sep 1 '11 at 11:05

Seeing how I completely rewrote my Freiburg to Hannover answer when the asker said he was actually traveling from EuroAirpot and not from Freiburg proper, I'll add my voice to the naysayers. “How to get around Germany?” would be a completely different question (and far too broad).

And similarly, with the Romanian taxi question, the fact that a border was involved was an important factor.

It's good to generalize questions, but only as far as you can without completely changing the question. It's the same as on Stack Overflow, you can't generalize every question to “how do I use framework X in language Y”.

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I think the trouble is if we make them too generic, they invite "list" style responses and won't have a "correct" answer

Taking your examples, the cost of a taxi in Romania may well vary by town, and "How to get around Germany" would almost certainly be closed for being too vague and inviting list answers.

Finally, the general answers likely won't chime well with what people are looking for when they search for answers.

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but how many people are going to ever be likely to be looking for answers on a taxi ride from Tumu to Rousse - as opposed to within Romania in general? –  Pekka 웃 Sep 1 '11 at 8:53
    
I work at a hostel in Australia and I know when tourists ask me the approximate real price and the typical ripp-off-the-tourist prices that are charged between it and the airport. However I have no idea about the flagfall, per kilometre, per minute?, or time of day/night charges in Sydney generally. That's just a for instance. So I didn't assume anything about taxi pricing generally or specifically with my situation in Ruse. –  hippietrail Sep 1 '11 at 9:12

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