Recently, the button for "off-topic" in the closing dialog was changed to "A community-specific reason". To be clear, I agree with the gist of the change, since "off-topic" was rather confusing, and on many sites, the definition used by SE isn't really the same as the literal definition of off-topic.

However, the words "off-topic" are no longer in the button. This means that it's unclear what option to choose in case a question is blatantly off-topic. This has resulted in confusion from users as they're unaware that they're supposed to choose "A community-specific reason" when closing or flagging off-topic questions. This may result in users using moderator attention flags in cases they should be voting or using recommend closure flags, since there isn't a clear option to vote or flag as "off-topic".

Additionally, blatantly off-topic isn't really a "community-specific" reason per se; all sites get questions that are blatantly off-topic once in a while (at least), and those questions are all closed for the same reason.

Finally, the option for migration exists under the "A community-specific reason" option. Migrations are possible on all sites, and so it isn't really a "community-specific" reason. While the specific migration paths are indeed community-specific, that wording makes zero sense for moderators (who can pick any site in the network to migrate to). Also, migration comes with the implicit assertion that the question is off-topic, so it doesn't make sense to exclude the words "off-topic" in that case.

Can we please add the words "off-topic" back into the close reason dialog, so it's clear that they're supposed to use that option?

An example:

A community-specific reason
This question is off-topic for [site] or doesn't meet [site] guidelines.

(The above suggested text will also resolve this issue.)

  • 3
    A network-related or community-specific closure has occurred. The question is off-topic or otherwise unacceptable. Please read the help center and try again. Apr 13, 2020 at 22:59
  • 3
    The link and claim about users being confused is a false one, or at least your link is not evidence: The user didn't realize 'needs improvement' had replaced the 'should be closed' step to begin with, so they never even got to the point where they could be confused by 'a community specific reason' instead of 'off-topic'. It's even in the question title that 'Should be closed' is missing. That question isn't related or proof for your claim at all.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 14, 2020 at 6:11
  • 3
    @Tinkeringbell Edited the post. By the way, that doesn't make the argument here less valid. Apr 14, 2020 at 6:25
  • Maybe not. To me there's a whole load of difference between 'this might happen' and 'this has already happened'. The latter gives credence to a theory and makes it more valid/believable than it really should be in this case.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Apr 14, 2020 at 6:28
  • @Tinkeringbell I've changed the link to an actual documented case of confusion from a per-site meta. Apr 14, 2020 at 6:38
  • 2
    I'd rather see everything in a flat list rather than this silly hierarchy caused by implementation.
    – Athari
    Apr 14, 2020 at 8:14
  • 4
    I prefer off topic to community specific anyway, makes much more sense than a wordy, "friendlier" way of doing it. Apr 14, 2020 at 8:50
  • @TheLethalCoder I was thinking of another way to phrase the main text so it incorporates both off-topic and community-specific, but couldn't think of one. It would be nice if you suggested one. Apr 14, 2020 at 8:52
  • 1
    To me the better approach would be add "blatantly off topic" outside the group for all sites, move migration outside the group and then use "community specific" for literally only the site specific community made close reasons Apr 14, 2020 at 8:53
  • @TheLethalCoder Trouble is, the actual "blatantly off-topic" option is only for flaggers, not voters. Also, many sites (including this one, as well as Super User) have blatantly off-topic as a site-specific close reason, and with your proposal, it would be placed in an inconvenient spot. Apr 14, 2020 at 8:56
  • Oh I mainly sit on SFF, didn't even know that distinction because we have it as a "custom" reason. It probably shouldn't be a custom one though but a standard close reason. Apr 14, 2020 at 8:57
  • 2
    Squeezing the site migration option into the off-topic reason makes no sense. No idea why they did it. I also agree that "off-topic" was a perfectly fine header option that has suffered as a casualty under "be nice", only this time it doesn't even make sense under the "be nice" cause's banner.
    – TylerH
    Apr 14, 2020 at 14:19
  • 1
    @TylerH As I said in the question, migration comes with the implicit assertion that the question is off-topic for the origin site, as the guidelines say not to migrate questions if they're on-topic (unless the author specifically requests it). Apr 16, 2020 at 19:44
  • Please move or copy this to Question Close Updates Apr 18, 2020 at 4:30


You must log in to answer this question.