It has been brought to our attention that one of our community specific close reasons could use a little more backup from the help center.

As avid meta denizens might be familiar - If an issue is primarily about one site - it belongs on the per site meta. We do get folks a little confused over this. The close reason is as below.

This question's topic is only applicable to one specific site in the Stack Exchange Network. Questions on Meta Stack Exchange should relate to features or policies that commonly apply to the network or the software that drives it, within the guidelines defined in the help center. You should ask this question on the meta site where your concern originated.

The help center doesn't adequately reflect this.

Upon review I feel like we could go a little further - also updating the help center to reflect topicality for teams

If feels like we could probably include this somewhere in the help center. Adjusting the second paragraph to read

Have a question about other sites in the network, Teams, Jobs or Talent?

Questions about a specific site belong on the meta related to that site.
Questions about Stack Overflow Teams or Jobs should be asked on Meta Stack Overflow.
Questions about Stack Overflow Talent should be asked directly to your account manager. If you don't know this contact person, please call our Talent sales team.

Would this be a good way to clarify what's on topic where, or would there be better options?


1 Answer 1


I think updating the help center is a good start but I would also like to recommend that we overhaul the entire process - the close reason wording isn't bad but when we improved the close UI and the post notices, we added the ability to customize the text based on who sees it, which means that a close reason can now have five separate targeted notes for different groups of users.

What this means is that we can customize five different pieces of text to better help close voters know when to use that close reason, askers to know what to do when their question is closed, and people with the close privilege to know how they can help improve the question or guide the asker to improve it.

Here's the five fields and examples of what they could say for this specific close reason - they have a 500 character limit with the exception of the first:

  1. Brief description (100 characters but should be just a few words) - this is the Bold part of the close reason that appears in the close vote UI when closers are voting to close the post. It's the equivalent of "Needs more focus". For this, you could use -

    Relates to only one site

  2. Usage guidance - this tells close voters when to use this close reason. It should clarify any edge cases and help voters feel certain they're choosing the correct reason So, you could put something like:

    This question should have been posted on a child meta rather than on Meta Stack Exchange because it relates to only one site. In some cases, it may be worth flagging for migration instead or in addition to closing. Consider leaving a comment pointing the asker to the appropriate meta site. If the question relates to the broader network despite being focused on events that occured on one site, do not close the question with this reason.

  3. Post notice close description - visible to all users. This is a general note about why the question was closed. It can include links to resources that explain the site's policy. It should always start and end with the same thing "This question was closed because it is ... It is not currently accepting answers." An example might be:

    This question was closed because it is about an issue related to a single site on the Stack Exchange Network. It is not currently accepting answers.

  4. Post owner guidance - this additional information appears in the post notice but only for the asker of the question. It should contain detailed information about how they can improve their post and may also include links to help here on meta or in the help center. For example:

    Your question relates to one site only and should have been asked on that site's meta. To find the meta site for any network site, visit the main site and use the right hamburger menu to find the meta associated with that site. You may also flag this question for migration but it may be faster to delete the question here and repost it on the appropriate meta site. If you believe it should be on MSE, edit the question to explain how this relates to the whole network.

  5. Privileged user guidance - this additional information appears in the post notice but only for users with the close/reopen privilege. It is designed to help them know how to guide the asker in improving their question or inform them when the question should be reopened. You might say something like:

    If you believe the question relates to the entire network, help by editing the question to improve it or leave a comment guiding the asker in how they could improve their question. If you believe this question should be migrated, please flag for moderator attention and ask them to migrate it.

Those are... very rough first drafts and none of them include links to helpful resources - which can often be useful to closers or askers whose questions are closed y'all may even want to create more specific guidance specifically for the purpose of explaining the process in more detail - but that's up to y'all.

If you'd like to do this for the four site-specific reasons here on MSE, workshop the five fields for each (probably one meta discussion for each close reason) and, once you're happy with the result, get a mod to the post so that a CM can review the text and edit the existing close reasons.

If you think the change to the close reasons is major enough, it may also be better to retire the existing ones and start with new reasons entirely, which just requires two moderators, no CMs. In general, we have avoided editing the close reasons in preference of creating new ones unless the change was a minor one, such as fixing a typo or a link. The reason for this being that editing the close reason retroactively applies the new text to old posts - if you do this with a completely new close reason, it can leave confusion at why an old post was closed with the new reason - it's just safer to go this route. But if the guidance and instructions are largely the same, editing the existing reasons is possible - it just requires a CM.

As a note - all of this is possible for any site. I've already helped Academia and Stack Overflow go through this process for their sites and Sci-fi & Fantasy and Electrical Engineering are currently going through it - so if you see this and wonder if your site could do the same - you can. Feel free to steal the explanation above for each of the fields.

  • 1
    Does this apply to all close reasons, or only the site specific ones? Is there a limit to how many site specific close reasons can be set?
    – Luuklag
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:00
  • 1
    The main close reasons are hard coded - they can be changed globally but not on a per-site basis. They have these same five fields, so in that sense, they are the same but the ability of a CM to edit them is not the same, no. Sites generally have up to three site specific close reasons but can have up to five. Any in addition to three have to go through a petition process where the CMs review the existing site-specific reasons and whether there's a need for an additional slot.
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:02
  • Thanks for the clarification @Catija. I've highlighted a sentence in your answer, to make it more clear for future readers, hopefully.
    – Luuklag
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:11
  • We'll discuss and get around to this. I'll need a lot of coffee to post 5 questions :D :D :D Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:11
  • 2
    Hey, You don't have to do all the work @JourneymanGeek :D If this is something y'all see as important, anyone can ask the questions. :)
    – Catija
    Commented Mar 26, 2021 at 14:12
  • I'm in the process of proposing a new custom close reason on our site. Am I correct that "Privileged user guidance" has gone the way of the dodo? Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 2:44
  • @IanCampbell Nah, it just got renamed because we made it viewable to everyone (except the asker). It's still a field y'all should have text for.
    – Catija
    Commented Nov 2, 2022 at 16:18

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