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In the comments of the question https://japanese.stackexchange.com/q/1963/384, I commented that the question seemed too localized. I have always understood the "localization" of a question to be a function (essentially) of the number of people it has the potential to help in the future. If it has very little potential to help anybody ever again, I considered it "too localized." Judging from the discussion which ensued, however, there seems to be at least a small amount of disagreement on this matter.

There has been quite a bit of discussion1, 2, 3 about what the actual meaning of "too localized" is, but as with anything, this can vary largely between communities; rarely are the issues of a programming-oriented community going to be the same as one devoted to a language, for example.

What, then, is too localized for our community? By discussing this and coming to a consensus, we can hopefully increase the quality of questions in our community and avoid unnecessary drama.

  • Arguably related: Should pure translation questions be allowed? The song lyric question is not actually about translation, but some of the viewpoints in the translation question can apply to determining if something is "too localized" as well. – Troyen Jul 15 '11 at 22:53
  • @Troyen Thanks. I meant to mention that in my post, but forgot to actually do so. – rintaun Jul 15 '11 at 23:02
  • A question is too localized if it is only about Japanese. :) – Tsuyoshi Ito Jul 16 '11 at 0:20
  • I would like to know how SE generally resolves the opposition of long tail questions are good vs. too localized questions are bad for any given site \-: – hippietrail Jul 16 '11 at 8:24
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"Too localised" is not the greatest wording for that flag, given JLU's focus. It'd be easy to make the point on many JLU questions that, being generally about some very specific aspect of one culture (often through an individual's own experience), they are "too localised" for a general audience... Yet they are perfectly fine JLU questions.

Either way, practically all recent "should this be allowed" questions on Meta have resulted in a flaccid consensus of "sure why not", due to the fact that any topic or form will have its supporters (and less-motivated detractors). I am personally OK with that (temporary, I think) status quo, especially as long as there is only limited activity on the site and it's easy to manage questions on a case-by-case. We may have to revisit some of the more lenient policies if/when the site ever gets really busy.

The one line I refuse to cross, is the test of "general interest to current and future users" (one could indeed call it not being "too localised"): no matter how strong its link to Japanese culture&language might be, if a question cannot possibly be of any use or interest to anybody beyond its author (and the occasional cultural doppelgänger), it should not be on JLU. This is also true, I think, of questions that might be fun to answer for current users (cf. recent trivia & games question), but potentially offer no interest to future users.

That being said: it is often only a matter of rewording, to make such questions acceptable.

When confronted with complaints that your question is "too localised", do some work on your end: extract the relevant parts (with a link to the fuller form for those who might want or need context) and formulate your question in a way that holds some interest even to people that might not share your exact infatuation for a band or other cultural artifact (if your question truly has a language component, that universality does exist).

To conclude:

Instead of asking people to guide you through the lyrics of a song while sharing their feelings about it, pick the part you have trouble translating/understanding, point out the exact vocabulary/grammar/syntax you have a problem with and ask your question on this part! (free to you to provide some short comments on the context as long as it remains relevant to the question: questioning people motives based on their inability to appreciate the band's good looks probably isn't).

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I was directed to this discussion in a response to my question about tweets.

The wording "too localized" is not great, however the function I think can be made to suit a very useful purpose.

As expressed in this question and in my question about tweets, there are definitely some turns of phrase and words that require a reader to have achieved a level of fluency where they can play with the language on the same level as the author, but studying them is not a path to acheiving fluency as they are so fleeting in their application.

If we could change the "too localized" text to "too unique", or "argot", or something descriptive of what we actually want to mark, then I think this would be great. Can the site developers enact such a change?

Also, I agree, as Dave points out in his answer, we should give the poster of a question the opportunity to generalize their questions. Most probably can be made into something useful if the poster put some care into how they asked.

  • Unfortunately, I don't think there's any precedent for changing the wording of "too localized," and so at the very least, I can't see this being an option until we are out of beta. – rintaun Jul 21 '11 at 7:35
  • @rintaun: While changing it may not be possible until then (if at all), discussion of whether that objective ought to be pursued should not wait until then. It should take place now while (counter)examples are salient in the community's mind. (This has also come up in travel.SE) – hippietrail Jul 22 '11 at 6:48

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