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I can cast close votes and perform close and reopen reviews. What are the current community policies for this and are some rules of thumb that can help me make a decision?

This is primarily intended as a resource for close voters to summarise our policies and provide helpful litmus tests to make decisions easier and clearer. Moreover, in the future this should be the basis for all future discussions on what should be closed, i.e., it has priority over previous meta discussions.

This is based on the assumption that I correctly captured our current policies here, but I may be wrong about this. If you disagree with any point, we should likely have a separate meta discussion about this, so feel free to open one. Alternatively, talk to me in chat.

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General rules of thumb

  • Closure is primarily about preventing answers, not about punishing bad or lazy questions (downvotes can do this). Before you vote to close a question, always ask yourself what the problem with answers is or would be.

  • If a question already received answers, look at them: Do they actually suffer from whatever you expect the problem to be? If not, can you edit the question to focus more on such answers and avoid problematic ones?

  • If you think that you can post a decent answer to a question yourself, you should almost never vote to close.

  • If you can easily edit the question to solve the issues, do so.

  • Leave a comment explaining what is problematic with the question, in particular if the asker may salvage the question with an edit or the close notice/reason does not adequately capture what’s wrong with the question (e.g., because multiple close reasons apply).

Unclear what you are asking

Vote to close with this reason if you are familiar with the topic and the question lacks information that is crucial to answers, i.e.:

  • Vote to close if answers would be substantially different depending upon how the question is interpreted.
  • Vote to close if the number of possible interpretations exceeds what can be reasonably be covered in an answer.
  • Do not vote to close if missing information can be handled by a simple case distinction.

You can particularly use this close reason for questions asking how to achieve something with software if:

  • The asker does not specify where they are stuck.
  • The asker just gives an example image but does not specify what aspect of it they are trying to reproduce.

Too Broad

  • Vote to close if a question has too many possible answers.
  • Vote to close if answers would inevitably be excessively long.
  • If a question can be split into questions whose answers do not substantially overlap, try to reduce it to one subquestion. If that’s not possible, vote to close.
  • If a question can be answered with a comprehensive overview of a larger topic or procedure, do not vote to close. However, consider to edit it to ask explicitly for such an overview.

You can particularly use this close reason for questions asking how to achieve something with software if:

  • It is a multi-step procedure that can be clearly split into several steps.
  • If it is asking for a combination of several techniques.

Primarily opinion-based

  • Vote to close if you expect that voting on the answers would be a pure popularity contest instead of being based on the quality of arguments or explanation.
  • Remember that, while many choices in graphic design are somewhat opinion-based, one of the reasons that graphic designers can earn money (in good conscience) is that they are not purely opinion-based.
  • If rephrasing the question to ask for pros and cons or a rationale of something would address your concerns, do not vote to close. Also consider making that edit.

Also see Good Subjective, Bad Subjective

Off-Topic

Requires specific setup, file, or interaction

  • Vote to close if the question depends on a file that cannot be posted on Stack Exchange, i.e., anything other than plain image formats and minimal SVGs.
  • Vote to close if you expect the problem only be solvable with a series of trials and errors.
  • Vote to close if reproducing the problem or validating an answer would require 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.
  • If you cannot reproduce the problem despite having a reasonably similar setup, vote to close. On the other hand, if you can reproduce the problem or the problem is well known, do not vote to close.

Note that questions not falling into this category may still need closing due to not falling within the expertise of graphic designers. Also see the next two sections.

Does not fall within the expertise of graphic designers

Use this close reason:

  • For general computer issues that do not benefit from experience with a particular graphic-design software.
  • Questions about general programming concepts that are not specific to graphic design, e.g., producing the correct syntax of a language used for scripting.
  • Anything that is you consider blatantly outside of our scope, e.g., questions on language (other than design terminology), crafting, …

Also see the next section.

Litmus test for software questions

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. In this case, do not close.
  2. Visit a friend who is an expert on computers and who has access to the software in question but has never touched it. In this case, vote to close with does not fall within the expertise …
  3. Ask your daughter, who is no expert on either but is very good at fixing things and can work directly on your machine. In this case, vote to close with requires specific setup, file, or interaction …

If the question does not provide enough information for you to decide, you should probably vote to close as unclear (and leave a comment which of the possible cases would be a good fit for our site to avoid unnecessary disappointment if the asker clarifies).

Also see: Revisiting closure, part 3.1: Drawing the line for tech support

Does not fulfil our requirements for identification or critique questions

This is pretty straightforward: If a question is a:

and it does not fulfil the criteria for these or you can easily make it do so, vote to close. Specifically:

  • If a font- or style-identification question does not report the results of automatic tools, vote to close.
  • If any of these questions lacks a reasonable title, try to fix this with an edit.
  • If any of these questions lacks a useful image, vote to close.
  • If the image of a font-identification question features multiple fonts and does not identify the desired font, vote to close. If more than one font should be identified, edit the question to ask only for one font.
  • If a style-identification question does not identify the style in question (but just dumps an image), vote to close.
  • If a critique question does not specify an aspect of interest or goal, vote to close.

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