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Let's go over how we got here. Harper posted this HNQ answer which says (in part)

Do you follow any of the warnings we give around here about the danger of 3-prong (groundless) range receptacles... and you think "Why does a 240V oven need 120V?"
The oven light.
That's right. The dangerous setup is solely so consumers can use ANY random 120V incandescent bulb they buy by the dozen (back in the day when everyone used incandescents and they were four for a buck).
After all, if we were going to make consumers buy special bulbs for ovens, we could just make them 240V bulbs, and then dispense with that darned neutral wire!

It's ranty about oven bulbs but... it still answers the question. There were some folks who didn't like it and commented about it, but then it descended into this

Ovens use ordinary 240V bulbs, just like every other appliance. What you're describing is only an issue in low-voltage parts of the world...

My oven runs at 230V, like the rest of my house. The bulb is 230V. Don't stick a 120V bulb in an oven unless you've got an oven that runs at low voltages.

This prompts some comments as well (this isn't about the comment chain per se) but what caught my eye is this comment from the questioner

I am indeed in the United States. Am I supposed to indicate that in some way in the question? There are a lot of ugly Americans, and I try not to be one of them. In this case I didn't even realize that the voltage of the oven has anything to do with the lightbulb I would need, so I wouldn't have known to even mention my voltage, much less assume it was the same elsewhere.

I'm not going to ask if the comments were OK, because they weren't (and I hope they're all gone soon), but I do want to ask about this. The community at large made the poster feel like they had done something wrong to precipitate this. All he did was accidentally post something into the fertile ground of that age-old debate: "US standards vs everyone else" (technically North America, but the US made it that way). Most everyone runs 240v 50Hz (or some variation thereof, assuming your country can make up its mind).

We've only ever needed to know the country when dealing with specific things to unusual stuff like electricity (i.e. if you have blue wires, you're probably in the UK), and a great many questions do indeed involve the US. But we also shouldn't assume everything is the US either. Do we need to mandate a location now to avoid future fights like this?

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  • For what it's worth I'm expecting to take down the answer at some point, maybe repost it in a different way as the historical info is interesting. The root problem is a behavioral one of certain people with a political axe to grind (the entirely reasonable "stop assuming USA stuff applies to the world!") who respond impulsively, without collecting facts. I for one dislike "disclaimers on everything always" much more than I dislike the momentary appearance of a lapse of judgment. Jan 7 at 20:30
  • Yeah, I'm not fond of the idea of having to localize everything myself. But we also have nothing canonical on the point
    – Machavity
    Jan 7 at 20:38
  • Entirely separate from the other discussions here, but: interesting and relevant are two different things. Nobody needs a historical treatise to find out whether they can use a regular bulb or not, and it's a waste of people's time to have to read through it in case anything useful is hidden in the bloggy blurby bit.
    – Nij
    Jan 7 at 21:44

3 Answers 3

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My own take, if the person answering is being helpful, particularly to the OP asking the question, adding a requirement like this to every question would be an undue burden. Not only on those providing a helpful drive by answer that won't be back to resolve any clarification requests in the comments, but especially on the site moderation that has to decide on whether all those answers would need to be deleted for missing this detail.

We also have quite a history without this requirement and adding it would also creation confusion where a majority of our content is missing the required field and people who's content gets flagged would complain that historical content doesn't have it. Anytime a policy like this changes, users can be particularly upset at the site mods trying to enforce that policy, claiming they are being singled out by showing all the exceptions, which makes the site feel unwelcoming to them.

So overall I'm opposed to adding this requirement. If we were to add it, I would want to know:

  • How do we handle historical content?
  • How do we handle helpful answers from users that don't include it and don't return to the site to update their answer?
  • How do we handle those that refuse to include it for some reason?
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How about "remind" instead of "require"? EG in the Body help:

Include all the information someone would need to answer your question. Name your locale (country, state or city) if relevant.
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If the question posits a location or jurisdiction, that should be the primary source for any answer.

But then someone comes along and asks the identical question, except for a slightly different location, and tags it as such. Now what?

This is pointless duplication of the question and spreads answers on the same topic without any other particular connection between them, than the text of the question itself. Why not just put them there in the first place.

You have to make clear in any answer, who and where it applies for.

This will be easier when the recently-announced Answer Tagging system is developed and implemented (presuming the site wants to then use it).

But until then, this debate will always occur, for both legitimate and irrelevant reasons.

  • The key legitimate reason is safety: some things are simply not safe to do in parts of the world, but are okay to do in other parts.

  • The next legitimate reason is legality: some things are not accepted in the same way across the world, with rules being tighter or looser depending on the neighbourhood the work is done in, or even which side of the street.

Whatever axes people want to grind, they don't take away the legitimate need to prevent advice that means to be helpful, becoming dangerous in its naivety (or worse, just to make a cheap point).

If you're writing up a post and you want it to be helpful, it's really not hard to add a at the top!

So, don't spend hours of time and pages of text arguing over daft politics, because that's not what DIY is for. Take a minute to learn the syntax, then it's a few seconds to write three words, and the entire issue goes away.

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