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There are some questions that have different answers depending on the country. Most of these questions are probably about copyright, libraries or other access to books.

The latest example is: As a US citizen is it illegal to access an ebook from a country where it is PD, if it is not PD in the US?.

Should we add a set of tags like or for different countries e.g. to allow people from those countries to search more efficiently or subscribe to the feed of those questions (which they may answer better than people not coming from those regions)?

If not: Should we add a tag (more like a flag) to highlight that the answer can differ depending on where you are? Would this be of any use?

  • Based on the two answers below I added united-states & law to the example question. – James Jenkins Jan 31 '14 at 16:41
  • And now I have gone through and added country tags & the law tag as seemed appropriate. I did not (I think) add law if drm or copyright was present or indicated. – James Jenkins Jan 31 '14 at 19:00
  • One could argue that country-specific questions in general and law advice questions in particular are not very useful on a site like this. That's another, policy-forming discussion that may or may not have to happen, but the answer to that may inform the answer to this here question. – Raphael Feb 7 '14 at 11:04
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I think that makes sense. I'm with Jason regarding using full country names. is harder to type and less instinctive than , so people will not be as likely to use it. Also, as Chris Rea points out, simply using the country name is better for search engine reasons (SEO).

may be helpful. I'm not sure about that one, since simply not picking a country tag would have the same effect. The approach that Chris describes in his comment (country names when necessary, no tag for questions that apply broadly) seems best to me for now.

It dawns on me that we are probably also going to need . We have , but (1) there are a lot of legal questions that are on-topic but not necessarily copyright-related, and (2) copyright itself is a country-dependent thing.

My personal preference would be to let all of this evolve organically. That is, I don't think we're at a point where we need to go on a massive re-tagging campaign. We need to wait and see how often given questions come up. For example, is having tags for , , and really the way to go? Or just , since the EU has essentially uniform laws on almost all issues potentially relevant here? I don't think we know yet.

Edit: Based on Chris's persuasive comments below, I think letting the site evolve much further without guidance on this topic does seem risky. My preference remains that it be organic, but realistically, I think we need to develop a strategy now, and the one that Chris has described on Money and elsewhere is a good one, IMO.

I would advocate that we begin tagging questions that are specific to one country using country names as we notice them, and encourage (via comments) the question askers to do the same.

  • IMHO, the site should set a precedent, else you may end up with messes like: somebody asks a question, not knowing they should mention location [as it may be relevant], a bunch of enthusiastic experts answer quickly without checking the assumptions (by commenting), the OP comes back and says "Sorry, I'm not in the United States, I'm in Turkey", invalidating all answers posted if the issue is location-specific. I've seen it hundreds of times at Money, at Freelancing, etc. Site beta is the time to get this sorted & I'm mentioning what we do at Money to avoid headaches later :) – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 18:43
  • As for "eu" vs. specific European countries, at Money we have a tag for "europe" as well as individual countries, because sometimes it matters and sometimes it doesn't. For instance, certain laws may be at the European level, but rights marketing and ecommerce issues may be more country-specific. – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 18:44
  • This question, e.g., I would have commented "Please specify your country since you are asking about law, forms of business, and banking practices, which vary based on where you are located." – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 18:48
  • This one also begs for a tag. The answers that are accumulating are already for a grab-bag of countries, and folks who answered seemed to ignore the OP's mention of the U.S. The result will be a long list of answers, many of which will be useless to whoever lands on the page, because their concern is the country they live in, not all of them. – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 18:56
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    @ChrisW.Rea You make good points. I have tweaked my answer accordingly. – Ed Cottrell Jan 31 '14 at 19:33
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I think it could be useful. Perhaps we could have a tag for country-dependent for questions that will vary by country. For questions that want to focus directly on a single country, using the full name is probably fine (e.g. united-states, canada, germany etc.). If you are looking for answers that are universal (i.e. should not differ by country), perhaps country-agnostic?.

  • At Money, we use country names as tags when necessary, & where a question applies broadly, no such tag. Important to leave off then because: (1) saves a tag spot (there's a limit of 5 per Q.) and (2) you ought to know: for SEO, a question's most popular tag gets promoted & prepended to a question page's HTML <title> tag (but not <h1>) to help the page rank better for that keyword. Better for Google to see, e.g., "kindle - How can..." for a question about the Kindle (which otherwise didn't have "Kindle" in the title) than "country-agnostic- How can...". Higher ranks & more clicks. – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 14:26
  • Similarly, when the country does matter, it would be better to use actual country names (people [outside the U.S.] search with their country as added keyword when they suspect their question may be dependent on it) than lump them all together in "country-dependent", which nobody searches for. p.s. Webmasters is a great place to learn about SEO, their most popular tag. Relevant to this discussion: Does the order of keywords matter in a page title? – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 14:28
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    @ChrisW.Rea: The country-dependent would be for when answers differ for different countries. If we had to use the specific country names, we'd be limited to 5. The specific country name tags would be when we are only interested in answers that are specific to those countries. – Jason Down Jan 31 '14 at 18:24
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    At Money, the person asking the question specifies their country on the question, and answers are to match it. If the same question comes up for another country, it's a new question and a different country tagged. We don't gather all countries' answers on the same question. That way, most of the time a question needs only 1 country tag, or none. The rare question about travel/moving/transferring may involve two tags. My main point is: Don't create a high-frequency tag that means nothing to search engines. Most of the traffic for a healthy SE site comes from Google searches. – Chris W. Rea Jan 31 '14 at 18:34
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    @ChrisW.Rea: Makes sense. – Jason Down Jan 31 '14 at 18:49

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