Based on this question I think its worth a discussion about whether a question about Substitute for [X] in [Y] should duplicate Substitute for [X] questions?
My feeling is that yes they should, for these reasons:
- The answers to Substitute for [X] should provide the substitutes, and the user should determine which of those substitutes they can get.
- If we allow this we could end up with many substitute for [X] in [Y] questions which rehash a lot of the same ground.
- How small a geographic area is acceptable for [Y]? the original question was about Thailand, do allow a similar question about Malaysia? Vietnam? Cambodia? Mainland Thailand? Certain islands?
I'm partially open to the idea of leaving it open for a little while and then merging the 2 questions, then if there are any new answers which come out of the regional question they will be 'findable' in the larger questions answers, but am definitely against keeping a whole slew of questions about substitutes for the same thing about long term...
The guidelines for closing as a duplicate are very simple. Regardless of the subtle nuances of exactly how a question is worded, the test is straightforward:
- Are there any potential answers to the new question that wouldn't make sense as answers to the old question?
It's that simple. And in this case, the test fails. "Localized" substitutions are still substitutions. Any and every answer given to the new question would and should be given to the original question.
Now, if the original question was ridiculously broad, it would be reasonable to make an exception. But I don't consider an ingredient substitution to be that broad.
It's also sometimes been the case on SO that the original question was very poorly-written and as a direct result received poor answers - in this case, we've sometimes told people on MSO to ask the "duplicate" question properly and vote to close the original question as a duplicate - there's no rule that says the duplicate has to be the newer question. But once again, I can't see how this would apply here.
If you can convince me that the answers to this question wouldn't simply be a subset of the answers to the original substitution question, I'll vote to reopen. For now - with sympathies - I've voted to close.
Remember, closing as a dupe doesn't mean we hate the question. Duplicates don't usually get deleted after closing; instead, both questions are retained to aid in searching, and any good answers get merged, and that makes perfect sense here.
If a question starts out as a localized question and the general one is subsequently asked, it shouldn't be closed as a duplicate but they should still be merged and edited to make sense.
In the case where the general one is provided, it is pointless to introduce regionally specific questions. This is why questions are editable, and why community wiki exists. Editing the question will bump it up the active list and garner new answers.
The implication (made in the comments on that question) that we somehow need more questions just because SO has 600k are hollow.
Don't close as duplicate.
How often will this kind of localization be relevant? Hobodave's generalization that we shouldn't have n sub-questions for n locations is a needless extrapolation, a slippery slope we won't go down. What's the likelihood of users from every country and county there-in asking, "can I get something to use for parsley in this town?" We should deal with these questions one-by-one, provided they are answerable and useful to the asker, and not already answered elsewhere.
Questions are good. Specific questions are even better. Asking questions that are meaningful to people because of their location and narrowly construed to be relevant to them is exactly what a questioner should do. "Localization" is just another word to make "specification" sound bad. Cooking answers may happen online, "in the global", but cooking, at the end of the day, is local. It happens wherever and exactly where you are when you do it.
Even questions which are local, aren't. People get ideas from targeted answers that apply more broadly to aspects of their situation. For example, one answer to the Thailand question was: "Can you find seeds anywhere? Parsley is easy to grow in pots, so you could manage even if you live in an apartment." That answer would not have been applicable to the general case of parsley substitutes and is informative for others who might not realize how convenient growing their own herbs is.
This site exists to be helpful to users, not convenient for moderators. If a person cannot find an answer to their question by searching first, they should be allowed--scratch that--encouraged to ask a targeted question which will be useful to them.
note: I realize there are examples of 'bad' localization questions, which are either unlikely to be answerable by anyone (Is the restaurant school in my town any good), or better re-phrased as general questions, if the local details don't add to the context. I just don't think this particular question was a bad one or that we need a blanket prohibition against local questions.
Let me ask this, because this is the most important part. Can you merge the localized question with the original with out losing location information? Can I still look at the original and see "These are the parsley substitutes that are available in south east asia." Because that's the important part. And that information is irrelevant to the original question, which just asks for parsley substitutes. I think if you merge them you will lose that information and thus completely defeat the whole point of the question.
I knew this would probably cause this, and I intended to because I think we need to stop and think about this. If you're living in the west it may not be readily apparent to you, but when it comes to questions about ingredients, substitution and how to do certain things in cooking - where you are located matters.
The west is a completely different food culture than the east which is different than Africa which is different than the Middle East. This isn't "Where can I find a substitute in my hamlet in Britain" or "Where can I find a substitute in my small town in america". In those questions, the general "What substitutes" works fine, because the answers come with an assumed "these are for the west".
However, when we're talking about "What is available in the East" the answers are going to be different, because the choices from which one may choose substitutes are completely different. There are some things that are common, but there are many things I can get here that simply don't exist out west. They won't be in the main parsley question. And there are many things that are common or at least findable out west that simply don't exist here.
When it comes to food and cooking, we need to allow localization questions at least along certain cultural boundaries. Because along those boundaries the answers change dramatically. The questions may seem like the localization question we've all been trained to disdain, but they are not. They are relevant. They are different questions with different answers. And it's important that we allow them or we'll just become "Food and cooking in the West" and lose an entire class of valid questions and users.