When I close questions, I often write a comment along the lines of

This is off topic [...]. But you can ask on our Meta to get feedback and get advice on how to fix your question for reopening.

Well, I just made up the wording, but the meaning is the same. I was thinking: why not make this automatic?


  • It encourages Meta participation;
  • It doesn't burden anyone if added;
  • Users are encouraged to analyze the issue instead of complaining about the closure in the comments;
  • It encourages Meta participation (I think this is the best reason).

Now, you could say this could be done via pro-forma comment. But making it a network-wide feature, we make sure that it's something that is always there, while moderators might act differently individually.

Perhaps it could be added to the close-reason (even if I think a more visible place would be better) or as a notice. I honestly haven't figured this out yet. A possible wording:

If you disagree with the closure, please ask a question on Meta, avoiding ranting and personal attacks, but instead constructively explaining why you think this question deserves to be reopened. The community will help you fix your question, if possible, so that it meets our guidelines.

A link to the question from the comments would be useful too, but I don't know if it'd be (technically) possible to add it automatically, so that users can see the question, even if they don't usually go to Meta (again, Meta participation).

This idea is still in an early stage, I might have missed some points and I invite you to report them, but child Metas are really not so populated and this would make the whole thing easier for mods and other users.

  • If you think the title can be improved, please be my guest. I couldn't think of a better wording. – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 14:55
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    Could we add a "but please don't rant"? ;) – Bart Jan 25 '13 at 15:00
  • @Bart Added. :) – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 15:04
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    A problem is, except on SO, you need 5 rep to post on meta. The people who would want/need to know most may have no rep at all. Plus the potential for majorly increasing signal/noise on meta I'm still leaning towards keeping the discussion in the comments unless it's a particularly contentious closure – Ben Brocka Jan 25 '13 at 15:21
  • Doesn't the "Off-topic" close reason already point the user to the FAQ? – Robert Harvey Jan 25 '13 at 15:33
  • @BenBrocka True, perhaps an exception could be made in case you ask a question in those circumstances? Besides, my suggestion arises from the fact that many comment discussions get too long and only get it messy. A Meta question would be a much better way to deal with it. But this is only a way to encourage it, not force users. – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 15:34
  • @RobertHarvey Point to the FAQ, yes, but not explicitly ask/encourage the user to post a Meta question for asking to reopen their question. I don't think it's the same. The "please read the FAQ" part is not meant to be replaced by this. This is something that I think should be added. The reference to the FAQ must stay there anyways. – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 15:35
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    Maybe instead of directing them to post on Meta, first direct them to the meta FAQ post about closures, and then tell them if they have further questions or need help editing their question to get reopened, they can post on meta? – Rachel Jan 25 '13 at 16:08
  • Agree with @Rachel. Do we really want folks to immediately post a meta question every time one of their questions gets closed? – Robert Harvey Jan 25 '13 at 16:08
  • @RobertHarvey It's not going to happen, but SE sites are supposed to work like that, no? But do I prefer users posting constructive meta questions explaining why they think it's a good question and other users cooperating to fix it instead of users complaining in the comments? Yes. What I wanted to achieve was encourage users to use Meta more appropriately. And use it at all. – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 16:10
  • @Rachel That can be a way, and it'd be more complete than what I suggested, but I doubt users are going to read all of that instead of 3 lines. – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 16:11
  • @Alenanno It could be a short line of text, such as "For more information about question closures, or to find out how you can get your question reopened, click here.". The Meta FAQ page I linked above also contains a section on "Is closure the end of the road for a question?", and a link to How do you challenge the closing of one of your questions?, so users interested in getting their question reopened can find the resources they need to do so (although the answers in the link to challenge a closure could probably use some work). – Rachel Jan 25 '13 at 16:15
  • @Rachel Don't get me wrong, that would probably be the solution and I wouldn't be against linking to the Meta FAQ page in my message. But your message is good too, short and effective. – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 16:16
  • @Alenanno Sorry, I misread your previous comment and thought you were saying such a suggestion was bad because of all the extra content a user would have to read :) – Rachel Jan 25 '13 at 16:18
  • @Rachel Not bad, not at all, I was simply being realist. Let's face it: a lot of users don't read it. But if the automatic comment was the one you suggested, I'd agree with it too. My idea was to increase Meta participation and avoid drama-after-closure in one move. If the message is mine or yours, it doesn't matter to me. (By the way, I think you could post that as an answer.) :) – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 16:20

I agree with you about adding some link pointing to meta for more information about the closure and finding out what you need to do to get your question reopened, however I think instead of just directing users to meta and telling them to post a question, we should direct them to the existing meta faq page for closed questions instead.

Something like:

Visit our FAQ section about closed questions to learn more about question closures and to find out what needs to be done to get your question reopened.

This way we won't get a ton of "Why was my question closed" posts on MSO that would probably just get downvoted and closed as duplicates to the meta-faq post, which would present a bad first experience for users new to MSO.

The meta-faq posts on closed questions also contains a section on "Is closure the end of the road for a question?", and links to How do you reopen a closed question? and How do you challenge the closing of one of your questions? for users seeking information about how to get their question reopened (although the answers to that 2nd link could use some work).

There's a lot of good information in the meta FAQ pages, but many people don't know they exist unless someone explicitly points them there in a comment, or they stumble across it while searching Meta. Personally, I wasn't even aware there was a meta site until I had been using SO for quite a while, and didn't know about the meta FAQ posts until about a year after that.

  • Ok, I agree with you. But two things: (1) In your example, "meta site" should be reworded as MSO or Meta Stackoverflow, since this would appear on every SE site and we need to disambiguate between that and child Metas. :) (2) "closed as duplicates to the meta-faq post" this is true here on MSO, but on child Metas it wouldn't happen (well that title would be poor anyway, there I agree). – Alenanno Jan 25 '13 at 17:14
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    @Alenanno Good points :) I removed the meta site link altogether as everything I came up with looked confusing, but my favorite choice of words was "on the StackExchange meta site". – Rachel Jan 25 '13 at 17:35

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