Two years ago, we rolled out some significant changes to closing, along with a massive number of changes behind the scenes to clean up the supporting logic that had grown crufty over the years. As with many ambitious projects, this one quickly pushed the limits of its 6–8 week implementation schedule and we didn’t get around to doing everything we’d hoped to do.

Most critically, we never exposed any data on how the new close reasons were being used. Since every site can create and use a limited number of customized off-topic reasons whenever they wish, this was an unfortunate omission: without knowing how (or IF) close reasons are being used, it becomes very difficult to tell if they’re even useful, or to observe when they’ve outlived their usefulness...

Comprehensive close reason usage statistics

The page /tools/question-close-stats is now live for 10K users on every site!

This page contains four categories:

  1. Current and past off topic close reasons A detailed history of all off-topic reasons used on the site.
  2. Closed and Asked questions Raw numbers on how many questions are being asked and how many are being closed.
  3. Closure statistics A detailed breakdown of the reasons for which questions are being closed, along with what happens to them afterwards.
  4. Custom closed as off-topic questions The most common voter-entered reasons for closing questions as off-topic (these correspond to the comments left under questions when the voter chooses Close → Off Topic → Other).

This page is visible to anyone with the moderator tools privilege, with the goal of allowing these most experienced users to identify potential problems and make informed decisions regarding closing and available close reasons. The nature of the data included in this report is based on ad-hoc queries I’ve been using for some time now to help guide these discussions on meta – I hope it proves as useful to you as it has to me.

Big thanks to Oded for implementing this! Please post feedback (in the form of answers) below.

  • 15
    eeek! It's alive! – Oded May 29 '15 at 18:28
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    "Well, this kind of sucks. Wish I could remove it. Will 2013-06-26 2013-06-26" – Mysticial May 29 '15 at 18:45
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    Is there some way my feature-request could get rolled into this? :D – Alexis King May 29 '15 at 18:48
  • My feature request, too please – durron597 May 29 '15 at 18:51
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    Do the stats include deleted questions? – user259867 May 29 '15 at 19:00
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    So, while I've got you guys here, can anyone help me with my modded Minecraft install? – Nathan Tuggy May 29 '15 at 19:04
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    In case you're wondering what sort of mental confusion must lead a community to banning a very specific sort of question for a single tag: waaaaay ahead of you – badp May 29 '15 at 19:07
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    Yes, the stats include deleted questions, @Yes. – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 19:10
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    "I'm voting to close this question as off-topic. Go tell your parents." – Won't May 29 '15 at 19:13
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    It would be nice to linkify those custom reasons, so we could actually find comments like that ;) – Geobits May 29 '15 at 19:16
  • A good many of them are probably deleted, @Geobits. If not, you can find them on data.stackexchange.com easily enough. – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 19:22
  • @Shog9 Oh, I know. I thought about answering with that request, but couldn't find a really good example on the sites I have the privilege (for that reason, I'm sure), so considered it not worth a full answer. – Geobits May 29 '15 at 19:25
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    The close reason changes were two years ago? How long have I been trapped here? :o – Mooseman May 29 '15 at 21:46
  • The link to this page does not appear to be on a tab or button on the /tools?tab=stats page. Could we get a list of what else exists but is not linked? – John Saunders May 30 '15 at 0:18
  • 2
    "Questions about unicorns are off-topic because I really hate unicorns. For more information, bite my shiny metal horn."—Shog9 2013-06-19 2013-06-19 2013-06-19 – Doorknob May 30 '15 at 3:47

14 Answers 14

Oded: - "Apologies for this. I was using some CSS rules that only existed in the newer CSS. I've made the changes to ensure all sites now use these."


Formatting appears to be off for sites with older CSS, such as Programmers, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Security, Wordpress, GIS and Cooking.

bad formatting
click for larger image


And who said Programmer's is harsh about closing questions?! There's nothing wrong with a 119% close rate, is there?

Close rate

For the curious, there is an active clean-up of old, off-topic questions underway on Programmers. Those closures are skewing the numbers.

  • 5
    "off" is an understatement.. – Elysian Fields May 29 '15 at 18:57
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    ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​When hasn't there been an active clean up of old, off-topic questions on Programmers? – yannis May 29 '15 at 19:02
  • Programmers numbers should be closer to 70%. Clearly within reason. – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 19:07
  • @Yannis 2008, I suppose. – durron597 May 29 '15 at 19:08
  • @Shog9 - to be clear, I was pointing out the close percentage for the (hopeful) smile it creates. I don't consider that reported value a bug - it's obviously due to the time range used and site activity. The styling on the other hand... :-( – GlenH7 May 29 '15 at 19:09
  • I hear y'all will have a new design any week now... – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 19:11
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    @Shog9 between 6 to 8 of them? – user213963 May 29 '15 at 19:14
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    In that range, yes – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 19:23
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    Cooking, too. @Shog9 Maybe add a mention of this to the mod newsletter? If you're coming from here, it's immediately obvious it's just broken (since it looks nothing like the screenshot), but the mod letter has no screenshot and I spent a little bit trying to figure out how to read the first section before I realized. – Cascabel May 29 '15 at 20:23
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    Semi-related: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/253359/… – GlenH7 May 29 '15 at 20:30
  • 1
    Same formatting issue on WordPress stack. – Rarst May 30 '15 at 7:26
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    @Oded - Thanks for the update! The new page looks much better on Progs now! – GlenH7 Jun 1 '15 at 11:08

I am aware that this is not necessarily the purpose of this and may not justify the effort, but would it be possible to get a list of questions closed with a specific close reason, in particular the custom ones?

I am asking because the list of custom close reasons on German Language SE revealed some questionable close reasons, for which I would like to see the respective question (e.g., to educate the closer):

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is spam.
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because I am nuts.

I can imagine that this is also helpful for other purposes.

It's not quite obvious what the green background represents (screenshot from Math):

math

It appears to be: "currently active reasons, except those built-in". I'd expect the colors to differentiate between all active and inactive reasons.

Also, the dark background makes text somewhat less readable; I think it would be better to instead apply light grey background to the inactive reasons (or have the font greyed out). Since the stats don't go back more than 30 days, there isn't much to do with inactive reasons.

  • I prefer that they used the coloring for unactive/desctivated close reasons instead. Something like... red. – Braiam May 29 '15 at 20:11
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    Yes. Change this; deactivated close reasons should have the same background as, say, deleted questions and answers. – Michael Hampton May 29 '15 at 20:12
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    Is there even a need to color the background that much? How about graying out the text for the old close reasons, and have clear black text for the active ones? – Simon Forsberg May 29 '15 at 20:16

I really like the new page, but will there be longer date ranges available? 30 days is useful, but not as useful as if I could easily compare that to longer periods.

I know I could query this from the Data Explorer, but since it's on a shiny new page, why not add six months or a year at the least?

  • 2
    It's the usual ranges for all of the 10k tools, but honestly I'd like to see longer ranges for some of the others as well. – Martin Ender May 29 '15 at 19:13
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    I think one main difference between this and the other tools pages is that this one seems like info-only, where the others provide links to recent activity so you can do something about them if needed (so they can be more recent). – Geobits May 29 '15 at 19:14
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    We'll consider this once Oded spends some time optimizing the queries - I agree that 90 days at least would be useful here. – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 19:49
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    Actually, you can't get useful closing stats from SEDE, since it does not include deleted posts (and this page does). – user259867 May 29 '15 at 19:57
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    @Shog9 On low-activity sites, 30 days is not long enough to be useful. For example, on French Language, we closed 3 questions in that time frame, which makes the statistics useless. Even on Cryptography, which is middling, there are only 9 listed free-form comments, which is not much to go on. Please add at least a 1-year and an all-time option. If it's a performance problem, make it a last 10000 questions or something. – Gilles May 31 '15 at 17:58

On German Language SE, there is a close reason that has been approved and never deactivated. However, it is not available as a close reason and has never been, as far as I can remember.

Either there is something wrong with the data or I am misinterpreting it. Either way, it’s confusing.

Here is the overview:

enter image description here

And here is the current selection of off-topic reasons:

enter image description here

  • Hence the lack of green highlighting – Shog9 May 29 '15 at 18:50
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    @Shog9: That makes some sense, if the green highlighting indicates acitveness. But as this isn’t explained and the data says something different, it is confusing. Either way: Unless I am misinterpreting the data (in which case, it’s badly presented), there is something wrong here. – Wrzlprmft May 29 '15 at 19:25
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    @Shog9 The highlighting is confusing. The active reasons are: the ones highlighted in green, plus the ones above them, minus the generic off-topic reason if there is at least one highlighted in green. Please make this consistent, e.g. highlight non-active reasons (generic or custom) in red. – Gilles May 31 '15 at 18:01

Oded: - "I should have thought of that from the start."


Sweet!

Could you put a little background color on alternating rows of the tables, especially the middle one with the actual stats? (Or vertically center elements in their cells?)

The size of the close reasons (in the first column) causes the data in the other columns to be hard to visually associate with the correct row, and I feel like an idiot holding a ruler up to my screen.

  • 11
    I can see your mistake - you should be holding a slide rule up to your screen. Nobody holding a slide rule can feel stupid. – Oded May 29 '15 at 19:29

The tab navigation is the same for both the stats tool and the close statistics tool. Perhaps there should be a new tab?

https://stackoverflow.com/tools/question-close-stats

Close tab

https://stackoverflow.com/tools?tab=stats

enter image description here

As mentioned in other answers, the sites that haven't had their CSS updated have a borked version of this page. However, grabbing the couple dozen CSS rules that apply to the elements on that page and throwing them into a Stylish style seems to work fine. Could the old CSS be patched with these rules to fix this tool on these sites?

Simple ask: it'd be nice if we could sort the close vote data. It's an interesting statistic on Stack Overflow to see which question closure is reopened most often for a given period of time.

More complicated ask: could we have some pie charts of the close vote percentage data? Seeing things visually at a quick glance would be helpful, too.

  • I'm having issues with small screen sizes. A sort option for the close table would be very welcome. Even if the first pass was a default sort by close % descending. – bmike Jun 24 '15 at 21:31
  • Charts, yes, but not pie charts please! – Nathan Tuggy Aug 9 '15 at 21:40

On Scifi, the contents are there but the table is not formatted:

no table formatting

I like the page, but as others have suggested, making the close reasons links to searches for the questions closed with those reasons would be nice.

Also, I find the table of stats difficult to read without lines delineating the rows and columns.

It was explicitly mentioned as a comment above, but being able to see links to these custom close reasons would be nice to have. I'm not entirely sure how we'd want to handle it in the case of more-than-one question; perhaps a (new style) search page with all of the questions listed in it?

Would it be possible to provide a statistics of the tags of closed questions (preferrably the tags intially used by the authors)? This way, a community could identify problem tags and improve their tag wiki or suggest to equip them with a tag alert to help askers ask better question or see that a question is not fit for a site before asking.

Please collapse the wall of text that is the first column close reasons verbiage.

If you could show a compact table with the data first and left. We can hover or click if we need to see the entire reason of the close. If you really like the full text - perhaps hang it off the right side or let it continue off the screen to the right.

If this isn't workable, perhaps having a short abbreviation for each close reason or some other short/unique key with a legend table below.

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