In other words: Can one truly expect to build a community by shutting questions that are relevant to members of the community?

I'm familiar with moderation and the need to keep users on-topic.

But what happened on this question is only the second time in ten years I've seen such unbridled moderation.

I asked a question that is of concern to most people who live in a foreign land. The official feedback: "not relevant to expats".

Brushing that off as an obvious canned answer that doesn't make any sense at all (sending money home is not relevant to expats?), I listened to the feedback of others who thought the question was too broad and severely trimmed it down.

Can anyone seriously still maintain that the question Cheapest options to exchange currency and send it back home? is irrelevant to expats?

I understand that some people may think that in their ideal world the question would be even more specific ("sending money from Tokyo to Lisbon"). But not everyone thinks the same, and there are lots of potential users who would be interested in discussion of foreign exchange solutions in general terms. Not everyone is in your specific situation. For instance, some of us might have to send money to multiple places.

The current stance is similar to telling someone on Stack that their C# question cannot be accepted because they did not say if they are working on a Dell or an HP machine.

As a moderator, it is easy to forget that not everyone is in your situation. In this instance, not everyone has the same experience of being an expatriate that you are having.

Making people crawl through a hole to suit one person's elevated idea of "the ideal question" is excessive and harmful to the growth of the community.

If it's on-topic and people who are obviously interested in the community are asking it, let it be.

Otherwise, you are just turning people away.

This is a valid question. Let it be.

2 Answers 2


Cheapest options to exchange currency and send it back home?

I think this is an okay question for the site since it addresses the issue of sending money back home which is an expat issue. The question would need to address the frequency and amounts of the transfer which in my mind make it an expat issue. The reason the question is only okay in my mind is the "cheapest option" part since the answer will be very localized in regards to both time (the answer today will be different from the answer tomorrow) and the amount being exchanged. I would rather see the question focus on how to evaluate different options so that the answers teach people how to find the best rate instead of just giving the answer.

That said, as the question currently stands, it is just about exchanging money and it is not clear how it is about sending money back home. It is just asking about exchanging money. Despite the titular question, the question in the body is

Does anyone have insights about these and other options?

which in addition to only be peripherally related to expats seems to be a bad question for this site since it looks like asking for a shopping list, opinions, and discussion.

  • You can take just about any question and pick it apart to death to show why it is not "the perfect question". The point is, do you want people who are attracted to then community to become active in it, or do you want to turn them off from even trying?
    – zx81
    Apr 19, 2014 at 2:46
  • 1
    @zx81 I want people to become active in the community. I wasn't trying to pick apart your question as much as suggest ways it could be improved so that it is both relevant to our community and fits within the SE Q/A framework. I am sorry if it came across as rude or knit picking. The whole idea of putting questions on hold is to allow for them to be improved. But in order to do that people need to let you know why the questions doesn't quite work.
    – StrongBad
    Apr 19, 2014 at 3:37
  • Thanks for your kind reply. You certainly didn't come across are rude. Wishing you a relaxing weekend, zx81
    – zx81
    Apr 19, 2014 at 3:50
  • 1
    @zx81 While Strongbad has answered in detail, I'll add another comment - it is on hold, not closed. The reason 'not for expats' is more just that it's not meeting the terms in the help center, and one of the things we try not to have early on is questions that are open-ended, as well as questions that are only for expats because we've added 'for expats' (not that you did, but it's inferred). It's just to catch it temporarily so that the question can be improved for the site, and then reopened. I think it's obviously potentially a very relevant question, we just need to reword it a bit.
    – Mark Mayo
    Apr 19, 2014 at 11:46

The reason it is a bad question is because it is a shopping recommendation:

These questions may seem tolerable at first glance. Isn’t it our mandate to help our fellow ewoksusers? But consider the voluminous amount of information you need to even begin properly answering a shopping question:

  • What is your budget?
  • Where do you live?
  • What are your preferences?
  • Which alternatives will you consider?
  • When do you want to buy?

Let’s say the question asker provided all that information. Fat chance, I know, but let’s pretend for a moment they did — and we were able to provide the perfect, ideal shopping recommendation to them. Even if that was the case, technology moves so rapidly that the best shopping recommendations will be utterly obsolete within a year! What’s the point of a bunch of labor intensive questions that provide only temporary benefit to a limited (some might say Too Localized) audience? There isn’t any.

That isn't to say that all questions asking about remittance are off-topic, they definitely aren't (another example), they just require asking a far better question which includes more details that allow the answers to be reasonably scoped and help future visitors who stumble across it.

As-is, your question is too broad, and not related to a specific expat-related problem. If I read it, I would answer for what would be the best as someone in Japan. Tim Post may read it as what's best in the Philippines. And each person will answer based on their situation which will cause a dozen different answers that may not have any relevance to the person that finds it according to a google search.

For future visitors, you should focus on scoping your question better:

What country are you trying to transfer to/from?

Each country has different laws and fees related to currency transfer (and some countries may not allow international transfers for a variety of reasons -- someone looking to transfer money home to the US from Iran is going to have a much tougher time than someone looking for a way to transfer money from Austria to Sweden, for instance). And each country has different banking institutions that offer services you can choose from with different fees, rates, and restrictions. At the very least you should be clear about which countries (and currencies) are involved.

How much are you trying to transfer?

Are you looking to transfer a large lump-sum, or small amounts? Each will have different fees associated with them most likely. What is cheapest for transferring £60 to your buddy to pay him back for the cricket tickets he bought you on your last trip home is going to be different from what is cheapest for transferring the $300,000 you got for selling your house before returning home for good.

How regularly/why are you doing this?

Is this a one-time thing where you just want to get the cheapest rate now? Are you paying off monthly bills that require you to do this every month? Are you trying to save where you can wait for good rates and transfer larger sums? There may be great deals for regular transfers (or alternative options like foreign currency accounts) that wouldn't work well for a one-time transfer or for bill payments. Without knowing why you are transferring money, it becomes harder to give a good answer.

Rather than being indignant about having your question (rightly) put on hold, it may benefit you to consider why it was put on hold, and how to improve it so that it will help create quality content that will make us a more useful resource in the future.

We don't want content just to have more content. We want to have good content that will attract people looking for answers, and to actually give them an answer that helps them.

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