Read the suggestion. If you agree with it, upvote. Otherwise, downvote and complain or suggest amendments in an answer.


I thought a bit about how to discuss tech support once more without reiterating previous discussions. The most recent Meta discussions seems to align well with previous discussions, in particular this one. Actual close votes do not align so well with this, but I think this can be partially attributed to some close voters being, well, lazy and using tech support instead of typing a custom close reason.

Going by all this, I consider it to be most efficient if I just make a suggestion that I consider to reflect the community’s stance on this. I don’t want to be dictatorial about it, so feel free to disagree. Should it turn out that I failed to capture the community’s opinion, the ensuing discussion should guide the way.


Proposed Rule

Questions should be closed (as tech support) if at least one of the following applies:

  • There is no reason to expect that graphic designers (i.e., our community) are particularly knowledgeable about the subject.
  • Validating an answer requires a specific setup that cannot be assumed to be readily available, i.e., a particular patch level of a software, a particular piece of hardware, a particular version of an operating system, a particular corrupt file, etc. This includes questions that inherently require a lot of back and forth between the community and the asker (“What happens if you try X?”) as the possible outcomes are unknown or covering all of them would be too much for an answer.

Rule of Thumb (inspired by user568458)

Suppose, you have the same problem as the asker and you want it solved as soon as possible. All Internet is broken down, and you cannot move your computer or any data other than a few screenshots. You can do one of the following:

  1. Visit a friend who is a graphic designer and has experience with the very software you are working with, but knows next to nothing else about computers.
  2. Visit a friend who is an expert on computers and who has access to the software in question but has never touched it.
  3. Ask your daughter, who is no expert on either but is very good at fixing things and can work directly on your machine.

If you would clearly choose 2 or 3, the question is off topic.


From the fundamental issues identified for closure, “Our community cannot judge answers to the question” is the primary one applying to tech support. The proposed rules apply and specify this to tech support, adding a pinch of “The question does not fit the general Stack Exchange format”. Moreover, the above mostly aligns the well-received answers to What do we want to be off-topic as Tech Support?.


  • When installing Ultradesigner, I get an error message: “No space on hard disk” What can I do to fix this?

    The nature of this software doesn’t matter at all for this. Graphic Designers cannot give better explain this error message or give advice for cleaning up your hard disk than anybody else. Hence, this is off-topic.

  • “You cannot use the discombobulator tool to transmogrify a PNG.” – What does this error message mean?

    The error message is obviously meant for the user, i.e., a graphic designer. Experienced users of this software should be able to tell you what it means. This question is clearly on-topic.

  • When opening my file, I get “Error: Corrupt file” – what can I do?

    Without further specification, this is off--topic: Unless we inspect the file, we cannot possibly answer this question (we might as well close as unclear). And even then we would probably not be the best people to do this.

    However, if this file was generated by a specified reproducible process, the question may be on-topic. Graphic designers experienced with the involved softwares may know the reason (version mismatch) or a workaround. If they don’t, the question may stay unanswered until the softwares are patched to fix the problem, but that’s not really a problem – we could still tell a bad answer from a good one.

  • Whenever I switch to the discombobulator tool, the transmogrification window closes. What can I do?

    As long as this can be reproduced, this is on-topic. Somebody sufficiently experienced with the software (i.e., a graphic designer) may know why this happens, what settings can avoid this, or similar.


  • Use votes on this question to indicate agreement and disagreement with the proposed rule.
  • Use answers to suggest changes.
  • Vote on answers to indicate agreement or disagreement.

Should there be a clear consensus in voting, the issue is solved. Otherwise I will make a second round of a proposal or discuss individual aspects, as I deem fit.

What this is not about

After this, we clearly need to discuss the phrasing of the canned close reason and whether tech support is actually a good label. However, we first need to clarify what we want the rules to be before we try to communicate them. This is just about what questions should be closed.

  • For the record, i think tech support is the most sraight forward of all the close reasons. Thoigh that may be because i have worked in tech support so they tend to stand out. But as this ruleset states some amount of tech support is acceptable.
    – joojaa
    Aug 22, 2017 at 21:57
  • I think this is a really good set of guidelines for when something is on-topic even when it seems to be a tech support question.
    – magerber
    Aug 23, 2017 at 15:34
  • 4
    This is an excellent rule of thumb and I would be delighted to implement this. I stopped going through the Review queue two years ago because I couldn't face clicking through fifty-four My Adobe Be Broke™ questions. Aug 24, 2017 at 9:38


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