A recent question highlighted a common issue with close reasons. In this case, the question was closed because the OP flagged that he was mistaken and his code worked.

There aren't any choices that exactly match this situation. In fact, there are many reasons to close that aren't covered by a single option. This results in drama; not so much in this example (a good Meta question was the only result), but much butt could have and has been hurt in similar situations.

I'd suggest that a further close reason be given which combines closure with a custom post notice.

for example,

enter image description here

would create a close reason

enter image description here

Preemptive responses:

  • Yes, it is probably not a good idea to allow anyone who can close to access this, so it should be available to mods and perhaps 10k+ users
  • Yes, I know you can close and then add a post notice, but this is a multistep process and is less clear
  • I know that deletion would have been an option in this case; its just a recent example of this issue rearing its head and deletion isn't always the best option in all cases
  • I know that in similar cases the OP should be encouraged to answer their own question, but that doesn't even fit in this case; his answer would have most likely been NAA
  • Yes, you should probably include a swag filter

Postemptive responses:

  • No, nothing is wrong with "Too Localized". This is only an issue when no close reason matches why a question was closed and using one of the canned reasons may result in controversy.
  • 8
    What's wrong with too localized?
    – animuson StaffMod
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:12
  • 1
    Shouldn't that timestamp rather be "7 weeks, 6 days and 17 hours ago"?
    – user138231
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:15
  • 2
    @animuson: Nothing's wrong with it, per se. Its just a bit hard to understand what it means for some (most?) users, and as you can see from this example, leaves the actual reason unsaid. The question was well on its way to being reopened, btw.
    – user1228
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:15
  • @Chichiray: If it was one minute earlier or later.
    – user1228
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:16
  • 4
    Just add a comment, which is a good idea anyways.
    – user154510
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:26
  • 1
    @Won't - what's a swag filter? Jan 9, 2012 at 20:26
  • 1
    @MatthewRead - I wouldn't have seen the comment. I read the question, saw that it was closed as too localized, read the Q again, couldn't for the life of me figure out what Robert was thinking when he closed it, so I cast a vote to re-open. Will's idea is dead-on. This should be a mod-only feature just for situations like this. Jan 9, 2012 at 20:28
  • 1
    As an extra benefit if there were to be implemented the custom close comments could be mined for new common close reasons. Jan 9, 2012 at 20:35
  • 1
    @AdamRackis With or without this proposal, reading comments before voting is also a good idea.
    – user154510
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:41
  • Can moderator comments be deleted? The OP had left a comment on his question that explained the closure, and that would have worked, had the OP not deleted his comment later. However, I like the feature request, provided it is mod only.
    – user102937
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:44
  • 5
    @Won't - I think you should change the request to be for mods only. This should be for situations where a mod unilaterally closes a question (like the one in the meta question that inspired this). It wouldn't have much use for 10K users Jan 9, 2012 at 20:44
  • @MatthewRead: Adding a comment becomes a multistep process. Perhaps placing a comment box at the end would be a simpler option to implement? Of course, the comment should then be visible if the comments list is folded, which adds more complexity.
    – user1228
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:51
  • @RobertHarvey: Mod comments can be deleted.
    – user1228
    Jan 9, 2012 at 20:52
  • @AdamRackis: Forced meme. Read the text in the first image.
    – user1228
    Jan 9, 2012 at 21:34

3 Answers 3


As detailed here, this is now implemented (at least after a fashion).

Mods can create a small set of stock "Off topic" reasons for a site, which can be used by anyone. They can change this list at any time if need-be.

For everyone else, there's an "other" option that creates a new entry in the close dialog for that question and also posts a comment with the text.

  • Now you're just hunting for rep! Jul 5, 2013 at 20:21
  • Eh, not really - I'll likely be capped before the day is over anyway. Someone flagged this question asking for a status-complete though.
    – Shog9
    Jul 5, 2013 at 20:22

Ok, well there are some other angles to look at. Obviously, you've covered the part about not allowing everyone to use this feature, as it would quickly become abused because it basically allows you to enter whatever reason you want to close a question. However, allowing it for only 10k users also draws up an issue in itself.

What if the 10k user is, say, the third user to vote-to-close this question? In this situation, the two previous users have voted to close as too localized because, well, that's the reason it would normally be closed in the case described. Now the 10k user types in a custom close reason. Is that close reason meant to override the too localized, even though it's a 2:1 decision? Would we then allow other users to select that 10k user's custom reason as their vote-to-close reason as well?

I feel that "too localized" does cover the reason for closure here and is descriptive enough, and in most other cases similar to this. After all, the first sentence for that reason is This question is unlikely to ever help any future visitors which is completely true if there never was a problem to begin with. If you think they might get confused, just post a comment explaining why it was closed. If they start to argue or anything, just lock the post or flat-out delete it for reasons of moderation.

A possible alternative: Allow moderators or 10k users to type in a custom reason along with their regular close vote, and add a box to the top of the message similar to what happens with duplicate links. This may over-complicate the vote-to-close popup though.

  • 2
    Indeed. Which is why this should be created for mods only. If a mod gets a flagged question, and closes it, allowing him or her to type in a custom reason to be displayed would be pretty useful. Jan 9, 2012 at 20:45

I'm sensitive to "none of these reasons" work, but I consider that a good thing rather than a bad one. In most cases, if one of the existing reasons isn't appropriate the question should remain open. Downvote it if you don't think it's a good question, but unless the question meets one or more of the criteria, it should still be available to answer. Generally I think this is the best response when none of the reasons apply (except in your particular example; see below for a suggestion to address that).

Having a custom close reason for moderators might lead to undesirable behavior and even more arguments. It would allow a moderator to close a question for any arbitrary reason. That seems antithetical to community rule. Question closure doesn't seem to be one of those extraordinary situations where elevated moderator privileges should be applied. It's quite the common occurrence and we've generally agreed that the reasons listed are the ones that should result in closure. Yes, they are fuzzy and some overlap, but a fixed and limited number of reasons seems more appropriate than an unlimited and arbitrary set, even if only available to trusted moderators.

As alternatives, I suggest allowing multiple reasons for a closure with the most common reason being listed as the official reason. In cases where a voter doesn't agree with the others on the reason, I would have the hover over for the person's name show his close reason(s). This would address arguments about which close reason was the appropriate one. I don't view questions about whether a question should be closed as always counterproductive, but arguments about why a question should be closed are rarely productive. The exception, perhaps, being migration vs. closure, which helps to define the subclasses for off topic.

I would also add another reason, available only to mods, Closed at owner's request. This could be used in response to a flag or comment on the question. This reason does seem to be a legitimately missing reason, but doesn't seem to be one that should be exercised by regular users. I could live without this because, as you say, deletion may be the better option when this would apply and comments are always available in other cases.

  • It would allow a moderator to close a question for any arbitrary reason. whereas we cannot now? I could go through your question list and arbitrarily close any of them, picking a random reason each time. "We shouldn't change anything because it could be abused by a bad moderator"? Nah.
    – user1228
    Jan 10, 2012 at 14:31
  • @Won't - I made two suggestions that would address your issue in a way that wouldn't fundamentally change the balance of power between community and moderator action. I'm not against change, I'm against bad change that might lead to abuse AND alter the nature of the community. I believe that over time the bar for closing questions would lower if moderators weren't forced to make a defensible choice from a fixed set of reasons. In many cases I have refrained from question closure because I couldn't find a good fit to a reason. Would I have if I could make up my own?
    – tvanfosson
    Jan 10, 2012 at 14:57
  • I don't think anyone has found themselves not voting to close a bad question because the given reasons didn't quite match the question's particular brand of awfulness. Your argument is invalid, hair = bird, etc.
    – user1228
    Jan 10, 2012 at 14:59
  • I must split hairs finer than you. I have, in fact, refrained from closing questions because the reasons didn't fit. Sometimes I downvote instead or improve the question through editing.
    – tvanfosson
    Jan 10, 2012 at 15:09
  • I think one of the problems is that I failed to provide more than one example in the question. I will make note of situations where I believe this ability would be used to good effect when they come about and will update this request.
    – user1228
    Jan 10, 2012 at 15:24

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