As part of the rollout of the new post notices, changes were made to three of the top-level close reasons:

  • Unclear what you're asking has become Needs details or clarity.
  • Too broad has become Needs more focus.
  • Primarily opinion-based has become Opinion-based.

Do these changes represent solely cosmetic changes in how the existing close reasons are presented to users (i.e. a distinction without a difference), or do they represent a substantive revision in the scope of what they cover? For example, is it possible for there to be a question that was clearly not too broad under the old close reasons but is now closable as Needs more focus (presumably, because it was never too broad per se, but has always been in need of more focus), or is this an absurd attempt at language-lawyering something that was never intended to represent a substantive change?

I do recognize that a large percentage of the questions that get closed for these reasons (E.g. "Why does my code not work [wall of code]?", "What is the best computer to buy?" or "The BEST. I have QUESTION download stuff HALP") would not suddenly become suitable under a slight mutation of the close reasons and that arguing over such dispositions is not productive, but I'm thinking about borderline cases where it might be worthwhile to review past closures, etc. against the "new" rules to see if the boundary (between closable and non-closable) has moved sufficiently to result in a different desired disposition. The question is whether there are any borderline cases to be concerned with at all, or if it is fair to say, for example, "Unclear means exactly the same thing as Needs details or clarity. A question Needs details or clarity IF AND ONLY IF it is Unclear what you're asking, with no exceptions whatsoever. They are exactly equivalent semantically, syntactically, and cosmologically, and any attempt to read a difference where none exists makes one liable for a review ban or worse."

An official answer could look something like one of these:

  • When we revised the names of the close reasons, we intended only to clarify what has always been the scope of those close reasons. All of the historic guidance on Meta Stack Exchange and per-site Metas fully applies mutatis mutandis to the "new" close reasons. They are identical in every way except for their labels.

  • The first two close reasons are unchanged in scope, but with the third, we actually did intend to narrow the scope of what constitutes an acceptable question. More specifically, questions that are opinion-based, but not primarily so (and thus not historically closable as primarily opinion-based), may now be closed. Please keep this in mind when reviewing the Close Votes queue, voting to close questions that are opinion-based in any way, even if not primarily, or we might ban you from review!

  • 1
    The descriptions of those reasons are unchanged.
    – Kevin B
    Dec 18 '19 at 17:00
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    @user400654 I noticed that, but then those descriptions have changed in the past too. If the descriptions are truly all that matters, e.g. if changing the name of the "Opinion-based" close reason to "Too long or wordy" would literally have no official effect on question dispositions because only the description of the close reason matters, that is probably an answer. Dec 18 '19 at 17:05
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    The descriptions are what dictate how the close reason should be used; they (closely) match what instructions the asker is given when their question is closed. Because SE didn't come forward and say they were changing the close reasons, and they haven't updated the descriptions, I think it's safe to assume that this was mostly just a cosmetic change.
    – Kevin B
    Dec 18 '19 at 17:07
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    It's also worth noting that the older "not constructive" and "not a real question" close reasons have also been remapped to newer close reasons ("Opinion-based" and "Needs detail or clarity" respectively). I can imagine that there is indeed a change in focus when it comes to those old reasons. (Other old reasons, such as "too localized", haven't been remapped.) Dec 18 '19 at 17:22
  • 1
    I miss the close reason "Too localized" so hard. Anyway, tracking the close reason in the question becomes harder since you don't have the information who votes to close and actually closed it on the off-topic banner.
    – Mukyuu
    Dec 19 '19 at 10:00
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    The changed notices kind of look synonymous, so if there was a scope change, it can only be very small. Is there some further help page about the scopes of the close reasons beyond their descriptions?
    – Trilarion
    Dec 19 '19 at 12:18
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    @Tril that's essentially my question. My instinct tells me that e.g. all of the historic MSE and per-site Meta guidance on when a question is or is not too broad also applies to needs more focus, or whether SE intends for us to apply newer criteria that might result in a different determination for questions lingering along the boundary between closeable and non-closable but with scope for improvement. More specifically, may I continue to review close and reopen votes the way I have before, mentally substituting the old reasons, or do I need to learn new rules or else risk a review ban? Dec 19 '19 at 13:52
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    Hmm, so far it looks like that nobody knows. In the absence of any answers I would go for the obvious solution saying "yes, they remained the same, it was just a name optimization".
    – Trilarion
    Dec 20 '19 at 10:15
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    FWIW, Too broad was commonly used on SO for closing no-effort "gimme teh codez" homework dumps. In chat, some people have mentioned that they're a little uncomfortable using Needs more focus for that purpose, since the OP has stated exactly what they want.
    – PM 2Ring
    Dec 20 '19 at 16:27

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