Estimate of site usefulness
Checking through many of the sites I frequent, I see that 25 out of 40 should be able to immediately convert one or more of their custom off-topic reasons into a different custom heading. Another 5 have no custom reasons at all (mostly young beta sites), and the remaining 10 are using their custom reasons solely for designating off-topic questions. 3 of these are using all three of their allowed reasons, and might benefit more from this change, if they are allowed additional custom reasons in total that they can't currently justify fitting in. In cases where more than one reason could be converted, I've chosen the most obvious one to save time.
- ELL (Unclear): This question should include more details than have been provided here. Please edit to add the research you have done in your efforts to answer the question, or provide more context. See: Details, Please.
- RPG (Opinion): “Shopping” questions and other recommendation requests are off-topic, but can be asked on any one of a number of role-playing games discussion forums. For more information, see Are Game Recommendation Questions On Topic, Revisited.
- SO (Unclear): Questions seeking debugging help ("why isn't this code working?") must include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question itself. Questions without a clear problem statement are not useful to other readers. See: How to create a Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable example.
- SF&F (Opinion): Requests for lists of works or recommendations are off-topic as they do not fit our questions and answers format. Feel free to ask about people's favorites in chat.
- UX (Opinion): Questions requesting Icon Suggestions are off topic. While the subject of icons is on topic, there's very little value in soliciting suggestions for a specific icon in a specific context. See this meta post for more information about this topic.
- English (Unclear): Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests
- Cooking (Opinion): Requests for recipe recommendations are off-topic; everyone has their own favorites. However, if you have a recipe already you can ask for help improving it - just be specific about what you want.
- Programmers (Opinion): Questions seeking career or education advice are off topic on Programmers. They are only meaningful to the asker and do not generate lasting value for the broader programming community. Furthermore, in most cases, any answer is going to be a subjective opinion that may not take into account all the nuances of a (your) particular circumstance.
- Bicycles (Opinion): Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.
- SU (Opinion): Questions seeking product, service, or learning material recommendations are off-topic because they become outdated quickly and attract opinion-based answers. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve. Share your research. Here are a few suggestions on how to properly ask this type of question.
- SF (Unclear): Questions seeking installation, configuration or diagnostic help must include the desired end state, the specific problem or error, sufficient information about the configuration and environment to reproduce it, and attempted solutions. Questions without a clear problem statement are not useful to other readers and are unlikely to get good answers.
- Worldbuilding (Too Broad): Questions about Idea Generation are off-topic because they tend to result in list answers with no objective means to compare the quality of one answer with the others. For more information, see What's wrong with idea-generation questions?.
- Code Review (Unclear): Questions must include the code to be reviewed. Links to code hosted on third-party sites are permissible, but the most relevant excerpts must be embedded in the question itself.
- Academia (Opinion): "Shopping" questions, which seek recommendations or lists of individual universities, academic programs, publishers, journals, research topics or similar as an answer or seek an assessment or comparison of such, are off-topic here. (See this discussion for more information.)
- Crypto (Opinion): Requests for reference recommendations are off-topic here. For details, see: Do we want “literature recommendations” and similar “list/subjective questions”?
- Project Management (Opinion): Questions seeking software recommendations are off-topic because they tend to become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.
- DBA (Too Broad): Tip of the iceberg - the question or comments reveal an underlying issue that would need extensive investigation by a consultant or database vendor support team: issues like this do not fit the SE Q&A model well. For more information see this meta post.
- Workplace (Opinion): Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here.
- Graphics Design (Unclear): Your question appears to be incomplete. More detail is needed for relevant and focused answers to be provided for these types of questions. Please review our font-identification or critique requirements and provide the missing details, so that your question can be answered.
- Information Security (Opinion): Questions seeking product recommendations are off-topic as they become obsolete quickly. Instead, describe your situation and the specific problem you're trying to solve.
- Unix & Linux (Unclear): Questions describing a problem that can't be reproduced and seemingly went away on its own (or went away when a typo was fixed) are off-topic as they are unlikely to help future readers.
- Webmasters (Opinion): Questions asking for recommended external websites, tools, resources, and software are off-topic as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Recommendations for software are permitted on Software Recommendations, but be sure to read their quality guidelines before posting there.
- Music Fans (Unclear): Questions seeking to identify a song/sample/artist/etc need enough objective detail to be answerable. Please if possible add more detail.
- Music (Opinion): Questions seeking recommendations for specific equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that.
- Chinese (Opinion): Questions asking for learning resources are off-topic as they can become quickly obsolete and are difficult to maintain. We do maintain a list of generally-useful resources for learning Mandarin that you might find helpful.
These sites do not use any custom reasons as yet:
- Software Recommendations
- Community building
- Arts & Crafts
These sites use some custom reasons, but not all three:
- Space Exploration (1)
- Stack Apps (1)
- Area 51 (2)
- Astronomy (1)
- Software Quality Assurance & Testing (2)
- Freelancing (2)
- Computer Science (2)
These sites use all three reasons at present, and might want more:
- MSE itself
- Mi Yodeya
Out of the sites that could use this, at least 15 could use an Opinion subreason, 2 Too Broad, and 8 Unclear. A large majority of the Opinion-based reasons are for shopping/rec questions specifically, but it's clear that Too Broad is a more effective umbrella in its current state than the other two.
Possible refinement: Collapse singletons
Close reasons with a single child should be collapsed into the parent dialog, so you don't have to select close →unclear what you're asking → Details Please but can just jump right to the single custom reason: close → Details Please.
The top-level reasons, shown only when there's more than one sub-reason, could be amended to something like this:
- unclear what you're asking…: It’s hard to tell exactly what this question is asking; it requires additional details or editing for clarity.
- too broad…: There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format.
- 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.
(Their default sub-reasons would remain the same, and sites that don't customize them would therefore look the way they do now. Some sites, such as SO, would want to keep the default sub-reason around as an alternative, while others might not, so an option to disable displaying the default sub-reason would be handy.)
This would also simplify migration: sites by default only have meta migration available, and showing a nearly-empty list there after an extra click in hopes of finding something relevant is somewhat less than helpful.