58

Let me first establish what I'm not asking about:

  • I know that there are posts that don't show a specific close reason to anyone when three different reasons were chosen.
  • I know that users who don't have the said privilege can't see who voted to close the question.

I'm fine with all that.

I'm referring to posts where there is a close reason but it's not shown to users with <3K (or whatever the threshold is). An example would be this post.

This is what I see when logged in (i.e., with the privilege):

Post close notice with privilege

This is what I see when not logged in (no privilege):

Post close notice without privilege

As you can see, the close reason is not shown in the second picture. This happens to me a lot on sites where I don't have the said privilege. I believe it's important that the close reason is shown, especially to users who are not experienced enough with a particular site because it serves as a learning opportunity (e.g., "I want to know exactly why this type of post is off-topic so that I don't make the same mistake myself"). On sites other than Stack Overflow, the notice simply says "off-topic", with no link to any sort of guidelines.

This was addressed a while ago and marked as . A staff member said a year ago that it was planned for an upcoming project, but nothing has changed since then. Plus, that post is now historically locked, which means that it can no longer be updated. As that post says:

Custom close reasons used to show their full text to everyone, which is helpful since they’re all (sometimes rather inaptly) sub-reasons under “off-topic”. They are, obviously, custom close reasons—specific to the site they’re on, and often tailored to address local problems that would not be problematic on most other sites. This makes being able to see those full close reasons important, as without them other people less familiar with that site’s customs will see question closures happening without cause, reason, or explanation.

Unfortunately, with the new post notices, questions closed with custom close reasons now simply say they were closed as off-topic. There’s no explanation of why they're off-topic, and in many cases, the questions are about subjects that are entirely topical for the site.

Can we please have the close reasons shown to all users?

While a small description is now shown for off-topic sub-reasons that were later revamped to use the new five-field system, this means nothing for close reasons that haven't yet been revamped. Considering that the CM team requires an individual, separate discussion for each close reason, and the 6-8 weeks it takes for a discussion to get brought up, go through its course, and eventually get implemented, it'll be a very long time until they all get revamped on all sites.

This also permanently affects questions closed under prior off-topic sub-reasons that were later retired or replaced as close vote options before the five-field system rollout: questions closed under such reasons will continue to show as "off-topic", and the team will not fix these retired reasons so they use the new system. Considering that back then sub-reasons were generally removed and replaced to make edits (e.g. to re-phrase or change links), the subset of affected questions is larger.

13
  • 4
    The second answer to the feedback post New Post Notices are live network-wide has a staff response which states that this is planned for an upcoming project. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:08
  • This was a recent change, that had a full writeup related to it... but i can't recall what the specific reason was for hiding the reason from everyone other than the OP and people who can close. To me, it seems like its just caused a bunch of confusion.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:08
  • 1
    There's also an explanation in the blog post announcing the notice changes. cc @user400654 Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:13
  • i don't think there is though... in terms of explaining why we're now hiding the actual reason. There was an answer asking about it on the meta post, but it didn't get a response and is marked as deferred.
    – Kevin B
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:15
  • 2
    Okay, two points: 1) I'm not sure why this happens with some close reasons but no the others (eg., Seeking recommendation vs Needs debugging details; aren't they both site-specific reasons?). 2) The staff member's response was over 10 months ago, so I'm not sure if this is still planned. It's been more than 6 to 8 months, after all :-P
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:16
  • @Sonic Yes, thank you. I'm aware of the notice changes. I just didn't go through all the feedback at the time. And before posting this, I only looked for questions as potential duplicates. Anyway, I believe this deserves its own post. Should I change it to a [feature-request]?
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:18
  • 1
    The closing-as-off-topic system was revamped on SO to split apart the reasons into multiple publicly-accessible ones. Sadly, that revamp didn't take place on other sites. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:19
  • 2
    @user400654 There is an explanation there. tl;dr: they lumped all users other than post authors, moderators, and users with close-voting privileges into a single category, the vast majority of whom are anonymous users finding posts via Google who are unable/unwilling to take action on such post notices. Unfortunately, they completely ignored users like me who don't have privileges but still take an active part in site curation by flagging posts for closure and editing posts to for reopening. Commented Nov 20, 2020 at 23:24
  • 1
    A discussion that may be relevant for you: How do I get attention for a bug report or feature request that was deferred a long time ago? Commented Dec 2, 2020 at 0:56
  • 15
    After some internal discussion, we've decided that hiding this information is making it difficult for newer users to understand question closure and should be changed. We've worked out the main changes but there may be some design elements that also need to be considered - we've added it to the backlog to be handled soon.
    – Catija
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 20:21
  • 5
    Update: I've completed a spec that encompasses the breadth of changes I could imagine in preparation for this change. There's around a dozen different UI elements that will have to be improved along with changes to the behavior of the post notice. This is now queued to be built.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 0:39
  • @Catija Thanks for the update! Do you think this should be [status-planned] now or is it still not part of the near-term plans?
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Apr 14, 2022 at 2:10
  • 3
    @41686d6564standsw.Palestine It's difficult for me to know what the plan is for the timeline. Because of the larger quantity of changes, some of which relate to design elements, this will require design review before it gets sent to dev, as such, it requires a bit more scheduling, so I'm not sure where it is in the queue.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 18:10

1 Answer 1

25

The changes requested here went live recently without much notice but I thought I'd go over the full slate of things that had to be updated to meet the request while attempting to catch all of the edge cases. If there's stuff we missed, please let us know.

So, I'm going to start out by saying that this is a bit more complicated because we do still need to special case high-rep users - they can see the list of close voters and we didn't want to change that, so we had to make changes not only to the low-rep, non-asker view, we needed to make the same changes to the high-rep view and clean up the asker view a bit so we weren't misleading them.

To identify these elements, I created a seven-page (image-heavy) document that showed the current state of things along with mock-ups for what the new version could look like instead. These changes fell into the three post notice categories mentioned above plus some mod and CM-only UI that referred to the "Privileged user" version of the post notice.

Public post notice

Instead of generic advice as shown in the question, we now show the same explanation to low-rep and logged-out users as we do to high-rep users:

Closed question post notice as viewed when logged-out - the text reads "Closed. This question does not meet Stack Overflow guidelines. It is not currently accepting answers. We don’t allow questions about general computing hardware and software on Stack Overflow. You can edit the question so it’s on-topic for Stack Overflow. Closed 15 mins ago." Next to the "We don't allow questions..." paragraph is a light bulb symbol.

As promised, though, the list of voters is not shown. We also keep the wording for the suggest edit button - "Improve this question" instead of "edit question"

Privileged user post notice

For me, one of the biggest things we needed to change here was to move the eye symbol so that it didn't indicate that the content was private - it also gave us the opportunity to make it clearer that they are the only ones who can see the list. As such, I requested that we keep the consistency of the light bulb next to the explanation paragraph and move the eye down to the list of close voters along with adjusting the parenthetical text to be explicit about what has limited visiblity.

Closed question post notice as viewed by a high-reputation user - the text reads "Closed. This question does not meet Stack Overflow guidelines. It is not currently accepting answers. We don’t allow questions about general computing hardware and software on Stack Overflow. You can edit the question so it’s on-topic for Stack Overflow. Closed 37 mins ago by Mat, Filburt, Shawn."  Next to the "We don't allow questions..." paragraph is a light bulb symbol. Next to the "Closed 38 mins..." is an eye with a diagonal line through it.

The old version of the parenthetical text read "(Viewable by the post author and users with the close/reopen votes privilege)"... which isn't actually accurate because the close explanation is viewable by the author - but it's different - and the author can't see the list of close voters.

Post owner (asker) view

We felt that the indications that the post notice was in any way private for the asker were a bit misleading now that the guidance is visible to everyone. While the specific guidance has been customized for them, we didn't want them to feel it was truly private when it was not. As such, we removed the crossed-out eye symbol and the parenthetical text that read "(Private feedback for you)". For consistency, we added the light bulb next to the information.

Closed question post notice as viewed by a high-reputation user - the text reads "Closed. This question does not meet Stack Overflow guidelines. It is not currently accepting answers. We don’t allow questions about general computing hardware and software on Stack Overflow. You can edit the question so it’s on-topic for Stack Overflow or post a new one on Super User. Closed 4 mins ago."  Next to the "We don't allow questions..." paragraph is a light bulb symbol.

Moderator & CM community-specific close reason UI

When previewing, the old UI referred to the non-asker post notice explanation as "Privileged user guidance" and gave mods some instructions in an info pane - this read:

This guidance is shown to users with the close/reopen privilege

These fields have been updated to be referred to as "Public guidance" and the info pane now reads:

The guidance is shown to everyone but the list of close voters is only viewable by users with the close/reopen privilege.

For a peek at what mods see, here's how those changes look:

The heading and info pane as described above.

When creating or editing custom close reasons a modal is available to mods. We made similar adjustments and improved the experience for moderators by adding a link to Moderator Team guidance on how to fill in the form.

The section about creating "Privileged user guidance" has been updated to read "Public guidance" and the existing description, which read

Provide guidance for users with the reopen privilege so they can constructively engage the post owner and reopen the question if appropriate.

was adjusted to give an explanation of how to draft this content that reflects it being generally visible by everyone:

Explain why this question was closed and guide users to offer specific recommendations for how the asker might improve the question if appropriate.

The section of this modal as described above.

We appreciate you bringing this to our attention and your patience while we created and implemented a solution.

5
  • 1
    Thanks, Catija, for the detailed answer! One point though: on the mod/CM view, I think the part that says "but the list of close voters is only viewable by users with the close/reopen privilege" is quite redundant since the same information is already displayed at the bottom of the notice. See here.
    – 41686d6564
    Commented May 25, 2022 at 22:22
  • 4
    Sometimes redundancy is good. :D I'd rather that each element of the page be complete just in case we change something at some point.
    – Catija
    Commented May 25, 2022 at 22:24
  • 2
    I have the privilege for several years now on my main site, but until reading this answer I never realized that the eye symbol depicts an eye, and that it is there to indicate that the information is privileged. You learn something every day :)
    – Marijn
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 7:40
  • The updated description for "Public guidance" really helped to explain what's visible for that field - thanks!
    – dan
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 22:18
  • 1
    @Catija when you say "which isn't actually accurate because the close explanation is viewable by the author - but it's different - and the author can't see the list of close voters", does that mean that the question author, even if he has close/reopen votes privilege can't see the list of closers?
    – user1213200
    Commented Jun 21, 2022 at 21:05

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .