These two off-topic close reasons don't seem like they describe off-topic questions.

  • Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem and include valid code to reproduce it. See SSCCE.org for guidance.

  • Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Tell us what you've tried to do, why it didn't work, and how it should work. See also: Stack Overflow question checklist

Both of them sound like that the question was on-topic, but lacking some crucial piece of information. Specifically if a question is "concerning problems with code you've written" it sounds more like it's exactly on-topic.

Compared to other standard close reasons, I don't see why the above close reasons describe off-topic questions any more than these:

  • 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.

Is the off-topic list used for site-specific close reasons only because it's the only list that can be customized, whether or not the close reason actually describes an off-topic question? Wouldn't it be clearer if the main list could be customized and these close reasons put there?


1 Answer 1


That's a pretty good observation...

See, until very recently there were a couple of other close reasons available:

Not a real question

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.

Too Localized

This question is unlikely to help any future visitors; it is only relevant to a small geographic area, a specific moment in time, or an extraordinarily narrow situation that is not generally applicable to the worldwide audience of the internet.

These covered a lot of ground. So much so that it was often difficult to tell why they were being used - or if they were being misused. So the former was split into "Unclear" and "Too Broad", while the latter was dropped entirely...

But that left some gaps, some common problems that weren't being addressed: questions that just dumped a huge amount of broken code (or linked to it off-site), and questions that demand a working solution to some problem without clearly defining either the problem itself or the nature of that solution. These two Off Topic sub-reasons are our attempt at tackling them directly; they could probably be shoehorned into "Unclear", but this puts us in a position of having very little clear guidance on what specifically is needed to clarify the question.

  • 3
    Instead of custom off topic reasons , why not have sub reasons for unclear? Put the two reasons the OP mentions into sub reasons for 'unclear'? Jun 30, 2013 at 0:33
  • They're not a perfect subset of Unclear either, and frankly I find the extra submenu too annoying to want it for more close reasons. Renaming Off Topic probably makes more sense.
    – Shog9
    Oct 27, 2014 at 18:09
  • +1 for 'Renaming Off Topic'. I like that idea. 'Out of scope'? 'not appropriate'? Oct 27, 2014 at 18:18

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