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Why do we have specified reasons to close questions?

I am not a regular here at meta, but it seems to me that "Why was my question closed?"-questions are pretty common. Would it not be a good idea to solve these meta questions in the appropriate forum, instead of here at meta?

I mean, is it the function of meta to be some kind of appeal or explanation forum? Surely the people who close the question are better suited to explain why it was closed? It seems to me that giving a specific explanation for closing a question is a good idea.

Would it be too hard to remove the default close reasons, e.g. "It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form.", and replace them with a user specified reason, e.g. "You need to be more specific about your question."

As voting to close a question is a reputation privilege, perhaps it can be divided in two categories:

  1. Creating a reason to close a question
  2. Supporting existing reasons to close a question.

Yes, I agree, sometimes the questions are so bad you just think they merit an investment in time and effort, but on the other hand, a reason does not need to be more specific than: "Go read the FAQ about asking questions." or "You keep asking bad questions, and do not follow the advice you are given." etc.

If you leave generic reasons as an option, in my experience people will use them, rather than go to the trouble of formulating a proper response, even when such a response is rather easy to write.

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marked as duplicate by Shog9 Jul 2 '11 at 18:50

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

There's always chat. – Yi Jiang Jul 2 '11 at 16:32
@Yi Jiang I don't know what you mean by that – TLP Jul 2 '11 at 16:32
@TLP: I think Yi is saying that if you are unsure of why a question was closed, maybe try asking someone in one of the chat-rooms. – bernie Jul 2 '11 at 17:12
@Adam Bernier Isn't chat rooms reputation restricted? I am not asking for my own sake, I've never had a question closed. I've only ever posted two questions (on SO, that is), and only because I thought I should ask something. :) – TLP Jul 2 '11 at 17:15
I got the feeling you weren't asking about your own questions. And, yes, chat requires 20 rep. – bernie Jul 2 '11 at 17:19
this is what comments are for. So if you feel that way, simply leave a comment on the post explaining in more detail. – Jeff Atwood Jul 3 '11 at 23:08
@Jeff The problem to solve was how to reduce the number of people who come to meta to ask why their question was closed. – TLP Jul 4 '11 at 10:51
there is no such problem to be solved -- we don't have huge numbers (or even large to moderate numbers) of people doing what you are describing; the existing close reasons, plus the faq links, seem to suffice for most people wondering why their questions were closed. – Jeff Atwood Jul 4 '11 at 10:54
@Jeff I see. Perhaps I got the wrong impression, then. – TLP Jul 4 '11 at 11:32

I have voted to close your question because olly-wolly polly woggy ump bump fizz.

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How is that a valid reason to close? – TLP Jul 2 '11 at 18:48
@Josh: Exactly. This is the problem I have with a "fill in the blank" close reason. People will just close as "I don't like the question," which is not a valid reason to close. – Robert Harvey Jul 2 '11 at 18:49
@TLP: Exactly. The only way to force people to use valid close reasons is to require them to pick one from a list. – Robert Harvey Jul 2 '11 at 18:49
@Robert No, that would be "the only way to force people to pretend to use a valid reason". I am surprised only I see this distinction. If you want people to be vague, allow them to use blanket statements, such as "Well, your question was either too long, or too short, too specific or too broad." – TLP Jul 2 '11 at 18:54
@TLP: Robert has explained the point I was making. There have been some other discussions in this vein, mostly around requiring comments for downvotes. – Josh Caswell Jul 2 '11 at 18:55
@TLP: There have been at least a few times when I have seen a question on SO, rolled my eyes, groaned, tried to find a reason to close vote it, and had my hand stayed by the fact that I just couldn't justify it using the list of official reasons. It does affect close vote behavior. – Josh Caswell Jul 2 '11 at 18:58
@Josh I was making the assumption that any given reason to close a question would have to be reasonable, and follow some sort of guidelines. But perhaps that is too complicated. – TLP Jul 2 '11 at 19:04
@TLP: That would be the ideal, of course, and close votes are subject to a lot more scrutiny than downvotes (and they're able to be counteracted, and not anonymous), but I think this is a fatal loophole. It would even be possible for a person to give a reason that sounds plausible, but isn't really valid; then everyone ends up arguing both about the question and the reason. – Josh Caswell Jul 2 '11 at 19:10
@Josh I guess that what I am mostly objecting to is the very generic close reasons that I see. They do not give the OP's a lot of information, which leads them to come to meta and ask questions. – TLP Jul 2 '11 at 19:16
@TLP: That's understandable. Leaving a comment about the close vote can be helpful, but there's really no way to require it. Also, as far as I know, Meta is indeed the "court of appeals" for closed questions, so there's no need to worry on that score. Some questions do in fact get reopened when appealed here; some don't. – Josh Caswell Jul 2 '11 at 19:28
@TLP: we can and do strive to improve the usefulness of the close reason descriptions. If you have suggestions for improvement, please post them. – Shog9 Jul 2 '11 at 19:57

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