If I wanted to ask something along the lines of:

  • Where should I order X online that will ship to Canada?
  • Can you be charged with DUI on a bike in Canada?

I think that these would be relevant questions of interest to a reasonable portion of the site (depending on the country).

I think that we should allow these kinds of questions iff they apply to the entire country and use the tagging system to filter out questions that are not of interest out of country users.

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Similar previous discussion here: meta.bicycles.stackexchange.com/questions/60/… –  freiheit Sep 16 '10 at 20:57
    
@freiheit - and here as well. –  Neil Fein Sep 17 '10 at 17:20

4 Answers 4

Cycling -- unlike programming -- by its very nature is regional. You hop on your bike to go from point A to point B. Your goal might be touring, training, racing, commuting or just enjoying the countryside, but you can't get away from the fact that it's local to where you are right now. Same goes for parts availability.

I'd suggest leaving regional questions open but suggest to the poster that the less localized the question, the more answers (and hopefully higher quality) they'll get.

Then see how it works. If the site gets bogged down with too many unanswered local questions, close them. Don't sweat the mechanics of a problem that may not even exist -- we're building an authoritative Q&A community, not sending cyclists to the moon.

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I'm not sure how I personally feel about this yet...

Where do we draw the lines, exactly? Would, say, a larger US state be okay, like "Can I charged with DUI on a bike in California?" California has slightly more people than Canada and is well within the population of the top 50 most populous countries. What about a really small country like Iceland, Liechtenstein? Or really big metropolitan areas like New York or Los Angeles, that have populations comparable to a medium-sized European country...

Also, how would we want to see those two tagged to make it easiest to exclude or include things for users?

  • "canada" (really hard to automatically ignore every country you're not in)
  • "country-specific", "canada" (easy to ignore country-specific, highlight your country and get that weird ignored and highlighted at once thing)
  • "north-america", "canada" (might be able to get it down to less than a dozen large regions which would be easier to ignore)
  • "country-specific", "north-america", "canada" (too many tags?)
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I'd love to be able to ask, say, where I can find a good shop in New Jersey to fit a stem on my touring bike, but that's what traditional forums are for, and Stack Exchange isn't trying to replace those. Also, when one of the four hard-coded reasons for closing a question is that a question is "too localized", then it makes it easy to justify closing a question.

It's getting fairly obvious that the users here want to be able to ask these questions. However, I think we need to draw a line. We've already decided that routes are off-topic, sorta. (Generalizations about route planning are okay, if I follow the top-voted answer to this question.) It would follow that generalizations about country-specific issues would be fine, but I'm not sure what form that would take.

Allowing just "Canada" or "US" or "England" questions is one thing -- these countries are large enough that plenty of users will find them, well, useful -- but what about smaller English-speaking countries? What about India, where English is commonly spoken? I'm worried that we'll end up having to judge which countries are allowed and which aren't, which feels wrong to me. So I would prefer to disallow them, unless we can come up with a clear framework for such questions.

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I was just looking to ask my first question (where Canadians are watching cycling online) but left off because it was regional. While I see others her also thinking it's okay is there really a concensus on the issue?

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Watching cycling might be borderline on/off-topic. You could ask the question and mention in the fine print that you would prefer online sources accessible in Canada (or at least outside the US). You'd get more answers and some are likely to work for Canadians even if the poster isn't 100% sure. –  darkcanuck Sep 18 '10 at 16:26
    
I'd be interested to know why it would be border line off topic? Not disputing it but just curious. –  curtismchale Sep 18 '10 at 18:55
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One of the Area51 off-topic questions had to do with following pro racers. Once you enter the area of watching cycling coverage, you're leaving the realm of questions that has to do with riding and maintaining your own bike. But as I've stated elsewhere in meta, I like questions that push the boundaries and see how the community responds to decide what's really "off-topic". Your question would definitely be clear and answerable, so why not? –  darkcanuck Sep 18 '10 at 20:33

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