After a ton of discussion, work and input from the community, we're rolling out the remainder of major closing changes that you've helped us design, as discussed in these prior posts.
They're live, network-wide RIGHT NOW!!! See also: https://blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/06/the-war-of-the-closes/
The close reason rework project:
NOTE: This post does not address all the details of the interface, etc. for each change. Its purpose is to summarize the changes in one place with enough detail to convey what's happening.
Why are we doing all this? Isn't closing good?
Yes, closing is great. It's one of the main things that stands between us and Yahoo! Answers. And it's critical to how we keep quality up. But over time, we've come to believe that it can be improved in a couple of ways that won't undermine its effectiveness:
The tone of the current verbiage (both "Closed" and things like "Not Constructive") tended to elicit argument and debate, rather than improvement
Even in those cases when a poster did improve their question, the odds of it getting re-opened were extremely slim, as there was no natural path to re-opening for improved posts
Many of the the close reason descriptions aren't specific enough to convey what exactly the OP needs to do to fix the question (I'm talking to you, NARQ and Not Constructive) or what made the question off topic ("It IS about programming...")
So, here's what's changed/changing:
1. Duplicate changes (live since Feb)
- Duplicate question must link to a question with an answer
- Questions closed as dupe show as [duplicate], not [closed]
- The duplicate language is designed to read more like a pointer to your answer, rather than a dead end
2. Questions edited by the OP within five days of closure go into the re-open queue (live since Feb)
- Previously, posters often had to resort to a meta post to get an improved question considered for re-opening
- Now, timely edits by anyone are proactively pushed into a process for re-opening review
We may consider letting later edits trigger addition to the queue at some point.
3. Questions will display as [on hold], rather than [closed] for the first five days after closure. (new)
- The goal is to better convey that questions can be improved and re-opened during the period where they have the best shot at that happening
- Questions put [on hold] will still not accept answers, and will behave identically to [closed] questions
- The language will change to [closed] if the question is not re-opened within five days, to continue to serve as a clear long-term signpost
4. "Not a real question" and "not constructive" are being replaced by the following: (new)
- unclear what you’re asking — Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
- too broad — There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.
- 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.
In each case, the language is much more specific about what needs to be changed to be acceptable here
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”),
- 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 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).
5(A). "Too Localized" is no longer necessary since the specific off-topic reasons now address its main use case. (new)
Too Localized was, by far, the most misused close reason in our surveys, with both Community Managers and Moderators deeming over 50% of randomly sampled TL closures to not have merited closure (including on SO).
Today, TL is used helpfully on code dump questions on SO, but the new OT reasons are where this is now correctly addressed. SO can use "Large blocks of code with requests for debugging without meaningful supporting info" as a specific OT reason.
Here's what the new list looks like:
Questions closed prior to these changes will not be mapped to the new reasons, as it's not a 1:1 mapping, with the exception of Duplicates and Off-Topics. The others will continue to reflect the reason picked at the time they were closed.