What is meta? ×
Meta Stack Exchange is where users like you discuss bugs, features, and support issues that affect the software powering all 134 Stack Exchange communities.

The Problem

After speaking to many users who have been moderating this site clean many, many times, and after some thought, I came to the conclusion that the current custom off-topic reasons do not represent the real reasons questions need to be closed. One by one:

Questions about general computing hardware and software are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve tools used primarily for programming. You may be able to get help on Super User.

If it's on-topic on Super User, it should be migrated there. If it's crap enough to not be accepted there, it shouldn't be closed with this close reason. This reason is moot.


Questions on professional server, networking, or related infrastructure administration are off-topic for Stack Overflow unless they directly involve programming or programming tools. You may be able to get help on Server Fault.

Exactly the same as above. Replace Super User for ServerFault.


This question appears to be off-topic because it lacks sufficient information to diagnose the problem. Describe your problem in more detail or include a minimal example in the question itself.

This reason is exactly the same as "Unclear what you're asking". UWYA should be upgraded with instructions on what to do.


This question was caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was resolved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by identifying and closely inspecting the shortest program necessary to reproduce the problem before posting.

This is the only reason that currently has some merit.


Questions asking us to recommend or find a tool, library or favorite off-site resource are off-topic for Stack Overflow as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, describe the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

This reason is very similar to "primarily opinion based". There are some differences, but it's basically the same.


The Solution?

These "Go and ask on [some-other-site.se]" have to die. They either belong there, in which case you migrate, or they don't. In which case, close it as something else that's appropriate.

The general close reasons (unclear and opinion based) can and should be rephrased so that they include practical instructions as to what to do "Add more examples, describe the problem rather than the possible solution")

Finding duplicates and creating canonicals should be made easier, but that's a all to it's own.

Ideas?

I don't know the entire solution to the problem. But the problem is there. Right now, I see a huge amount of questions getting closed as a reason that's about right, that's understandable to the regulars but is incredibly confusing to the user whose question just got closed!

Don't forget who those reasons and those elaborate texts are for, we know the rules, they don't. The point is not to close and forget, but to help educate users so that they'll know our rules and standards, and be able to contribute and get help.

share|improve this question
    
instead of convoluted lacks-diagnose and its dumb twin unclear-ass-king, they could use single reason suggested by Kate: "Unclear What Help You Need. Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell what problem you are trying to solve or what aspect of your code needs to be corrected or explained. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question." –  gnat Feb 28 at 14:43

1 Answer 1

If it's on-topic on Super User, it should be migrated there. If it's crap enough to not be accepted there, it shouldn't be closed with this close reason. This reason is moot.

What if you're absolutely certain it doesn't belong here for the reasons stated, but are not 100% sure it would be a good fit on the target site? Then a "have a look over there" might be a better option than an outright "let's move that sucker". The same goes for your second option.

This reason is exactly the same as "Unclear what you're asking". UWYA should be upgraded with instructions on what to do.

Nope. Unclear what you're asking is "say what?". This is "I know what you're saying, but we need a bit more info than this".

This reason is very similar to "primarily opinion based". There are some differences, but it's basically the same.

There will always be some overlap between reasons, but it's not bad to have an explicit "don't ask for libraries or tools or ..." reason.

There are plenty of tweaks to make to close reasons, but I don't agree with your view.

share|improve this answer
    
I'll address your concerns one at a time. If you aren't sure, leave it to those who do, or even flag. Being in constant contact with mods from all sorts of sites made me aware of this problem. It's basically the same as "don't migrate crap". If you know this question is crap, close it. If not, flag or migrate it. –  Second Rikudo Feb 28 at 14:29
    
Unclear isn't only "say what?" It means "I don't understand what your problem is". I guess it could be made into its own reason, but that reason is hopelessly abused. –  Second Rikudo Feb 28 at 14:31
    
If it's abused, then we have another issue @SecondRikudo. That doesn't mean they are exactly the same reasons. –  Bart Feb 28 at 14:32
1  
As for your first comment, it happens often enough that I think "Fair enough question, but not for SO. Could be SU, but I don't participate over there". Which makes me hesitate to migrate. What is the problem then with a "Not here, but look at that" close vote? –  Bart Feb 28 at 14:33
    
I don't see a reason to have too much overlap. That reason (we have a limited number of custom reasons) can be used for something better than something that already has a very high overlap with another reason. –  Second Rikudo Feb 28 at 14:34
    
(about migration) Because it encourages to move crap around. It's rarely "Fair question, but not for SO", but more like "This question is crap, but it's about computers, so let's tell him to go away". –  Second Rikudo Feb 28 at 14:35
1  
Then once again the problem is with the application by other users, and not so much with the close reason itself. If that is the issue you're having with those reasons, clearly state so. I see a perfectly valid and correct use for them. An argument that might be void if you find that this "perfectly valid and correct use" is not how it's used in practice. –  Bart Feb 28 at 14:36
3  
@SecondRikudo With respect to the product/tool recommendation, once upon a time they were merged together in one close reason. It was confusing to newer users. While the reason did technically apply, it wasn't immediately obvious to new users why such questions met the close criteria, or why that was a problem, despite the fact that the "recommendation" subset of opinion based question makes up a majority of the closures. Having a separate reason just for that greatly improves clarity, especially for the reader, and partly for the closures, and at no major negative "cost". –  Servy Feb 28 at 14:57

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .