Pretty soon we're going to be seeing some changes to the closing system. To read all about the changes, check out this post on Meta Stack Overflow: Closing changes: [on hold], unclear, too broad, opinion-based, off-topic reasons, bye-bye to Too Localized.

As a part of this, we're going to have the ability to incorporate some custom off-topic close messages. This is detailed in item 5 of that post:

5. Off-topic closures will include feedback on what specifically is off-topic for that site. (new)

  • Each site will have a list of its own specific pre-selected “Off-Topic” reasons
  • Each closer will either select one of the site's standard reasons from the list (for instance, “Recipe requests are off-topic, although recipe replacements, etc. are allowed”), or,
  • Closers can enter a free-form reason ("Your question appears to be about 'Cat Grooming', which is off-topic for Stack Overflow.")
    Free-form reasons will be presented as a comments, but the close dialogue will refer the reader to the comments for more info
  • Free-form reasons picked by closers will be available to subsequent close-voters on that question as one of the selections from the list
  • These lists will be determined by the communities, and moderators will be able to update them, subject to review by each other, their community, and the SE team

Reasons will need to be specific enough to make it clear to most readers what is and is not allowed (off-topic reasons of the form "Things that are NOT X" will be discouraged).

This is also the place to address any closing reason that applies to one site but not others (for instance, the "General Reference" close reason on English Language and Usage is moving here).

So, we need to determine as a community what these messages should be. Are you noticing common patterns when voting to close questions as off-topic? Perfect, post that as a suggestion!

What do you think our pre-selected "Off-Topic" reasons should be?

Update (2013-06-27)

The changes are live and we have added our custom reasons based on the feedback from you all. These are not set in stone, if you think something needs to be changed, let us know!

  • Hey, can we re-earn the Informed badge if we go through the entire page again, since it's new? :) – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jun 28 '13 at 12:56

According to what has been discussed in this thread, the following have been added as Off-topic closing reasons:

  • Requests for critiques must include either a specific question about your design or specific guidelines for the critique. See: What are the guidelines for asking for a critique of my work?

  • This appears to be a tech support question about fixing technology to work as advertised. Please edit the question so that it pertains to using technology to solve a design problem. You may want to check if it hasn't already been asked in Super User. In many cases, contacting the manufacturer is the quickest option.

  • This looks like brainstorming/idea gathering for a specific project or a request for free work. This site is suited for answers to general design problems, not ideas or work that is specific to one project. See this meta post for more info.

  • If anyone has suggestions for how the wording can be approved for any of these, please feel free to post them here! Also, side note: we are only permitted 3 custom off-topic reasons. – JohnB Jun 27 '13 at 21:36
  • Seems lately, a general "Too Localized" option would fit very well. – Scott Jul 7 '13 at 7:19

I just read the Meta-Stackoverflow post and discovered that they're replacing Too Localised with various flavours of Off Topic. So we should have something that covers the most common existing use of Too Localised, something like:

  • "This looks like a request for free work. This is a site for answers to general design problems, not ideas or work that is specific to one project"

The wording needs work, but it's quite a common one. If we word it right, it would work for the bad type of feedback request and some brainstorming questions too.

  • definitely yes on this one. Maybe "We can't do your work for you" or "We are not a brainstorming [or] collaborative site." – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Jun 19 '13 at 16:31
  • Absolutely yes for this one. – Scott Jun 19 '13 at 18:58
  • I like this, especially Lauren's idea of converging this with the brainstorming one – JohnB Jun 19 '13 at 19:29
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    I think bad brainstorming questions will always be either this, or, too opinion based. If they're neither too opinion based nor too specific to one problem ("in your expert opinions what could possibly solve this type of challenging problem) there's probably nothing wrong with the question – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 19 '13 at 20:39

Nice, sounds like an opportunity to fix where we draw the line on some of the cases where the line is murky.

A topical one is where to draw the line between design how-to and tools, and tech support... How's about:

  • "This appears to be a tech support question about fixing technology to work as advertised. Designers aren't maintenance experts: please either contact the manufacturer, [something about migration to superuser], or, edit the question to show how it is about using technology to solve a design problem."

I think this one covers the 3D issue too - it works as well for the difference between "my rendering server is malfunctioning" and "help me achieve X in Blender" as it does for broken Photoshop vs a Photoshop how-to.

We've also discussed which code questions are design related and which aren't. How about:

  • This appears to be a question about fixing an error or bug in some code. [Something about asking the developers at stackoverflow]
  • I agree with these as well. – Scott Jun 19 '13 at 18:58
  • Sounds great!.. – Yisela Jun 20 '13 at 21:52

The one that stands out to me the most is Brainstorming or idea gathering, I think it would be useful to have a pre-defined close message for that.

  • Completely agree, idea gathering questions are quite frequent. – Yisela Jun 18 '13 at 3:39
  • How about suggesting some wording? I always find this one hard to explain concisely when using comments to suggest people re-phrase. – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 19 '13 at 15:42
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    Actually, thinking about it, would this not be covered by the new/revamped "Primarily opinion-based — Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise." – user56reinstatemonica8 Jun 19 '13 at 15:52
  • @user568458 good point! – JohnB Jun 19 '13 at 19:27

Is the "Only 3 reasons" a beta thing?

I noticed at StockOverflow, there are five custom reasons...

enter image description here

  • We can request more, see Anna's answer here – JohnB Jul 9 '13 at 2:15
  • Ahh, that's understandable. The only thing I find wanting in the close reasons may be a general "too localized" option for those questions which would not help any future users. The brainstorming reason may cover that, but may be confusing to the user if the question isn't idea gathering in nature. – Scott Jul 9 '13 at 17:39

How about one about a question being too simple, something that they could easily have used their own initiative on and Googled to find plenty of quality tutorials. Like:

How to add an outline to text in Photoshop?

I've managed to write some text in blue, I just want to add a yellow outline.

Perhaps not as a close, just as a flag. Because sometimes the description is poor and with some more context it can be developed in to a useful question.

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  • @JohnB Highly relevant, who decides what to do about it and when? – Dom Jun 21 '13 at 21:21
  • Good question! I don't know when these changes are to scheduled to grace our presence, so the best answer I can give you is "soon". I think it might be a good idea to create a fresh meta post with all the reasons that have been brought up here. That way, everyone can have the opportunity to weigh in on it. We will decide as a community. Any ideas for how we can fairly handle the decision making? – JohnB Jun 21 '13 at 21:37
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    @JohnB Off the top of my head, maybe moderators could enforce a 36/72 hour timer forcing the user to find a way to make the question useful, with help from community comments, and once edits have been made, it can be reviewed by moderators again and kept open or closed, and if no edit is made in the time limit, the question will be closed automatically. I'll work on creating a good quality meta post about this soon. – Dom Jun 21 '13 at 21:42
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    I see two important elements in this idea (we can discuss it better in your new meta question). It's beneficial for the site if we can add context and make a question useful, definitely. But it's also beneficial for it as a whole to have simple questions that give good SEO results. The WU question for example is, as you pointed out, very simple. But answering it means we'd be the second result in google. How many potential users can that bring to the site? The benefit is, IMHO, bigger than the prejudice. – Yisela Jun 21 '13 at 22:16
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    Please see the discussion John linked to in his first comment here.. then carefully read Grace Note's answer to that discussion. This is what cleared it up for me a great deal. SE has ruled on this. It's merely up to us to abide by that ruling. – Scott Jun 21 '13 at 22:26
  • See I really get the SEO aspect, but then some others would say that a question about scanning a signature and removing the background is a duplicate of removing background in various questions, but font questions are textually nearly identical and very similar to each other, so it's confusing.. I'm going to take a wide berth on font questions for a while anyway lol – Dom Jun 21 '13 at 22:27
  • The font identity questions are an animal unto themselves. I agree they don't belong here. But I'm in the minority. So comparing things to font ID questions won't go very far. Just ignore the Font ID questions if you don't like them. And given that each of those questions has a different answer, you can't call them duplicates. How to remove a background, is how to remove a background. Once the 6 ways to do it are described, there's nothing further to add to the topic. – Scott Jun 21 '13 at 22:29
  • Just a note, I didn't see the signature question until this morning. I'd have almost instantly closed it as a dupe if I had seen it before, but when I came across it, it already had 3 excellent answers (and we don't normally close questions with good answers, it'd be a shame). We can use this new one as a reference for future dupes, though. – Yisela Jun 21 '13 at 22:33

What about a close option for not enough information or details. Provide a message of "This question is currently closed because it lacks detail on the issue at hand.". "We are not mind readers and an example image is needed to understand the issue you are having."

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