Following on the question What's the policy regarding localized (read: country specific) questions? and Are US-specific questions OK? My own opinion is that country specific questions are fine. But, I think that even if the OP is asking about their home turf, there should be space to provide general answers. Since this site is inclusive I think the Q-A should be made general if there are general interest in the question as such.

An example: the post How much vacation time is typical during a PhD( in the United States)? (the parenthesis indicates an addition edit to the original question indicates a problem. As indicated the post was a general question applicable everywhere although it was clear from the question body that US conditions were at the heart of the OP. The question was later edited to show its US identity.

The edit now makes the question very narrow and opens up for questions about vacation in each and every country. This is really not constructive and what we want. On the other hand I can see that a non-country-specific question would open up for answers from each country, in other words wiki-type posts. However, when somebody looks for a question on vacation having the question, in my opinion unnecessarily, limited makes little sense. I think that providing a wide spread of answers to a more general question is the better way. I realize this is probably not easy to resolve but as I see it: should we try to be very specific and excluding or try to be general and including in the these types of posts?

  • 1
    You seem to have linked to the same question four times. Can you fix the links?
    – eykanal
    Jul 24, 2013 at 12:46
  • Fixed the double link Jul 24, 2013 at 14:49
  • Two of them are still the same. Sep 26, 2013 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


To riff off of Einstein, "SE questions should be as specific as possible, but no more specific!"

We don't want to make hard and fast rules that "no country-specific questions," or "all questions should be localized." Questions where the geographic specification becomes critical should be permitted; where it doesn't influence the answer, then it can be neglected.

In the linked question, for instance, the lack of uniform labor laws in the US makes the localization of the question appropriate.


I prefer a general question over a very specific but overly-localized question, any day. Mostly because I live and work within one particular system/country. Chances of a particularly localized question being of use to me (or anyone really) is slim, thus the question is not really relevant for many people, beyond to satisfy any possible curiosity. General questions allow for wider audience and thereby broader relevance.

That being said, one could argue that scientists based in the US are overly represented (don't know if this is actually true, but wouldn't be surprised if it is) and thus, in cold hard numbers, US-specific questions might be more relevant than one might think. To that argument, my answer would be that allowing US-specific questions to take dominance here would risk the interest of users from elsewhere. I would personally not be very interested in checking the site as often, if US-specific questions start to proliferate any faster than they already do.

Along with the lines in Daniel E. Shub's answer, I think polling questions such as "how does X work in Y?", are not a good fit to start with. Such questions are typically proxies for something more interesting and relevant which the OP consciously or unconsciously omits.

For instance, the example with vacation time, I suspect that the OP was concerned with the number of vacation days available to him/her and whether or not taking a certain number of vacation days to satisfy his/her needs (for family or whatever else they may be) would likely cause a problem with his/her supervisor.

That would have been a much better question, which would have allowed for generalized answer to a better extend and would be relevant for a wider range of people.


Despite the large number of upvotes, I do not think How much vacation time is typical during a PhD in the United States? is a particularly good question. The better question in my mind is why should/should not academics take vacation. I think in general questions that are appear country/field specific are probably missing the truly interesting question.

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