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Wow that's a horrible title.. This question is to discuss the location data for Q/A questions. specifically where on the help center should we inform our users and what the wording for asking for the location should be.

Some background: there have been at least four meta questions about how to get location data from our users on questions that should have some type of climate zone. From this answer on my previous meta question, it seems the help center would be an appropriate place to let our users know that location data for certain questions is important.

Another thing that was pointed out is that it is important for our users to know why the location is important. Things such as temperature, precipitation, and other high/low data should be basic knowledge for any gardener, and should be added to a question when appropriate.

One other thing is the "when appropriate" factor, which I myself am kinda fuzzy on.

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'When appropriate' - if it's a question about plants or gardening, it's always appropriate, no question about that. Knowing where someone is gives all sorts of information to anyone who wants to answer - the soil profile for that region, the average rainfall, the temperature norms, humidity levels, strength of uv light available, day length, what local pests or diseases the area experiences, which native or naturalized plants might grow, whether they're southern or northern hemisphere to work out seasons so you know what might be flowering for ID. Even for houseplants, it's useful because of different heating systems likely to be used in different countries (Scandinavia, for instance, where underfloor heating is more or less the norm) and the available natural light levels. It's often not just helpful to know where they are, but critical in order to give any kind of sensible answer, never mind a well rounded, informative one.

Given that most people asking questions don't have a lot of horticultural knowledge, letting them decide when it is 'appropriate' doesn't work, because they don't realise it is. So I would suggest that it's not 'when appropriate' but 'essential'.

As for where this requirement is put in the Help centre, I haven't got a comment on that yet I'm afraid.

  • I agree, it is always useful to know location data. – J. Musser Sep 25 '14 at 11:41
  • We should also provide easy to read resources on where to get that location data, which I'm also fuzzy on. Preferably a site that isn't walls of text interspersed with walls of tables. – ton.yeung Sep 25 '14 at 15:05
  • @ton.yeung - they don't need that, we only need to know where they are, i.e, town (preferably) and certainly country, I'm not suggesting they all need to know their USDA zone or similar. – Bamboo Sep 26 '14 at 11:26
  • Okay, so we don't require they state it in their question. Wouldn't it be useful for them to know, though? Teach a man to fish... – ton.yeung Sep 26 '14 at 15:49
  • @ton.yeung For sure it would be, but usually we mention their area or zone in the answer given, so it's something they can learn from the response - if they want to! – Bamboo Sep 27 '14 at 13:12
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    @ton.yeung You can look up a given location, and find all you need to know about it. It doesn't have to be up to the user to do anything but post the location. And the more specific the better. But we want asking questions to be as easy and painless as possible. We already require more of our users than any other gardening q/a I can find, and we want to attract new users. – J. Musser Sep 28 '14 at 3:48
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I think we can gently nudge people to give us location information in the "How do I ask a good question?" section of the Help Center. It may fit nicely at the end of the paragraph entitled "Be specific." For example: But if you give us details and context we can provide a useful answer. Your location is important, and pictures are often helpful.

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