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This question is precipitated by my question on CS.SE here. I cross-posted it on the mathematics exchange, and it was put on hold by D.W. for this reason, with him/her citing this meta thread. My question is, is it stack exchange policy that questions violating peer consensus as laid out on any meta thread, but not violating any rule enshrined in the help center are to be put on hold and/or closed as "off topic?"

If this is the case, am I the only one who thinks this is an idiotic way to do things? It seems to me that if questions are closed as off topic they should (1). actually be off topic and (2). the linked to portion of the help center should be able to tell you why your question is not satisfactory. If questions can be closed for "violating peer consensus on meta" then there should be a "violating peer consensus on meta" banner with a link to meta. "off topic" should not be a term for "we don't like it for reasons specified in the comments even if it is actually on topic."

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Well, off-topic has several reasons including an Other reason, which is probably the one the moderator used since the rest didn't apply for closure for your question:

enter image description here

The last one would do in the above snippet. Please make sure you understand that the various off-topic reasons will vary by site. The snippet is for Meta Stack Exchange.

The "threads" you are speaking off are posts that request for specific things like harder rules or changes to that rule here, etc. The post you linked though is directly from the FAQ for Stack Exchange. Until someone raises an issue about one of those rules and there's a huge agreement in favor of the OP's position (and discussion with SE employees), these rules are technically law since anything in the FAQ are official rules set by Stack Exchange. Everyone has to follow them.


Now to answer your concerns.

My question is, is it stack exchange policy that questions violating peer consensus as laid out on any meta thread, but not violating any rule enshrined in the help center are to be put on hold and/or closed as "off topic?"

As I said, your link is actually not of consensus. It's a rule established by Stack Exchange. I believe that this was a major problem in the earlier days (probably raised plenty of times by various users) and a solution was implemented by Stack Exchange to end this once and for all.

It seems to me that if questions are closed as off topic they should (1). actually be off topic and (2). the linked to portion of the help center should be able to tell you why your question is not satisfactory.

Like I also said, this is part of the FAQ and thus is an official rule. Cross-posting is not allowed. If you go to the top/start of the FAQ "thread", it states that for "official guidance", go to the Help Center. Note that it says guidance. Rules can be put in the Help Center but they will all appear in the FAQ.

"off topic" should not be a term for "we don't like it for reasons specified in the comments even if it is actually on topic."

Your question was deemed inappropriate for the site because of cross-posting. Due to this decision, your question had to be closed. No other reason fits for closure and thus other is used.


After examining your question, I realized that the reason for cross-posting was that you didn't receive any answers after 8 days (even with a bounty) and thus thought that having more people seeing the question would raise your likelihood for an appropriate answer. Quoting from the answer of the FAQ post for cross-posting D.W (the moderator that closed the question) had put in his comment:

Ask the question on the site you think is most applicable. If, like in this case, it does not get any answer, ask a moderator to migrate the question, or alternatively, delete it and re-ask it.

You should ask a moderator in Mathematics and see if it might be more suitable in Computer Science. You also might want to ask a moderator at the target site to ensure that it is in-topic with their rules.


One more thing. The FAQ is linked within the Help Center for more help. The Help Center helps you with some of the basic, standard rules everyone will know, and the FAQ will help you with more specific ones. As per this page:

If you’re looking for more details or context about this community’s policies, our meta-discussion site hosts a section of constantly evolving frequently asked questions that documents everything about the site.

Yes, the linked FAQ site is for Computer Science but the one in Meta SE applies for everyone.

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    The problem is, the "other" category says that a comment should be added explaining what is wrong. In this case, the on hold banner says "this question does not appear to be about computer science within the scope defined in the help center." This is simply not true, and I believe it indicates that "other" was not used. – Retired account Jul 17 '17 at 18:53
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    @A.W.Grossbard: That's exactly what the banner for "Other: fill in the blank" says, without exception. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 17 '17 at 18:54
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    @A.W.Grossbard That is exactly the banner that appears when "Other" is used since it is categorized under "Off-Topic" and all question closed under "Off-Topic" will have a similar if not exact banner – Anthony Pham Jul 17 '17 at 18:56
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"Off-topic" does not mean "unrelated to the site's subject". It means "not handled within the site's defined scope". And yes, the details of the scope definition are largely set by consensus on meta, because meta handles the details of all site policy. (Starting with Meta SE itself, the blog, and so on: for example, shopping questions are off-topic by default on SE, although a few sites make exceptions to that.)

Put another way, the close reason is not intended to say "you're asking about photography on Cooking SE". Instead, it's just a catch-all for any recognized problem that's not explained by the other close reasons.

This is not ideal, but proposals to adjust it have not yet been implemented.

  • The banner tells me that scope is set out by the help center, not consensus on meta. And anyway, that would be the site's meta, not the general SE meta. The CS.SE scope is not defined here. – Retired account Jul 17 '17 at 18:56
  • @A.W.Grossbard That is correct. The FAQ defines what types of questions are allowed but it does not limit the subjects in which they are about – Anthony Pham Jul 17 '17 at 18:58
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    @A.W.Grossbard: The mother meta defines certain aspects of cross-cutting scope (as well as other policies) that most if not all SE sites share. So yes, you do actually need to respect a post on Meta SE as being authoritative, unless the particular site has agreed on an exception. – Nathan Tuggy Jul 17 '17 at 19:00

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