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Since we updated the close modal text and post notices a few years ago, I've known that there are concerns about whether they're sufficiently clear for users and whether they're giving the correct guidance. We want to improve the text in these cases to ensure that we're guiding users as best we can.

An important note to keep in mind – the changes I'm planning for should be copy-related only. While there may be some concerns about the current state of the close modal or the post notices, those are out of scope for my current project.

Note, that to get to this point has been an effort of a couple of months of talking with people in places like the SO Close Vote Reviewers chat room, mods in the TL, and from some of my CM buddies (V2Blast and Slate). Thanks to all of the people who have helped me out and been patient with my random questions.

In the sections below, I've created recommendations for what we could update the text to, if changes are needed. I've tried to consider my own thoughts about the current reasons, my experience with helping communities create useful site-specific close reasons, and various comments from places I've seen where people have stated concerns with the current text. For brevity, I've referred to "close voting" or "voters" but this encompasses flagging/flaggers as well, since the text is identical between the two.

I'd like to think that these are about 90% there. From my current set of feedback these are significantly better than the current text and I'm really excited for y'all to see them. Do note, these aren't final and set in stone, so I'm open to suggestions, concerns, and other feedback – but it'd be really helpful if you can be clear about what I can do to improve them. Also, please try to focus on discussing one close reason per answer for voting and comment-replying purposes.

Goals:

To put you in the right context for these, here are my goals when drafting. In some cases, I may have goals specific to that close reason, so I'll mention that in the individual sections below.

  1. Close modal

    • Inform close voters of when to use the close reason. While many active reviewers already know this, we want to give enough info that new voters and flaggers understand these reasons, too.
    • Help voters differentiate between close reasons, particularly in the case of "needs detail" and "needs focus".
  2. Asker post notice

    • Inform the asker why their question was closed and give them action items to improve it. Emphasize that this isn't a permanent state if they work to improve the question.
    • Incentivize improving the question by explaining why it is necessary (i.e. if you fix it, you will get a better answer).
    • Link to guidance where it exists.
    • Remove any guidance that suggests asking a new question from all close reasons.
  3. Public post notice

    • Inform viewers why the question was closed
    • Give guidance on how to help improve the question or what to do if the closure seems to be unnecessary (either due to error or the question being improved).
  4. Overall

    • These close reasons need to be applicable network-wide (within reason – yes, I know duplicate closure doesn't really happen on Code Review).
    • Help unify the usage of close reasons a bit.
    • If available, link to help guidance.

Minutiae

To preserve formatting, I've included the code we use in the text below. Text surrounded by dollar signs or including hashes (e.g. $this$ or #~this#) is automagically converted into text or links specific to that question, post, site or something else.

I've included the current and proposed text below, since I know seeing the asker guidance can be really difficult if you haven't had a post closed for one of these reasons.

Duplicate:

This doesn't change any of the functionality and still requires a duplicate target to have answers or be asked by the same person.

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Duplicate (No change)
Modal Description This question has been asked before and already has an answer. (No change)
General notice This question already has #~questionCount#an answer here:
This question already exists:
(No change)
Post owner guidance Your post has been associated with a similar #~questionCount#question. If that question doesn’t answer your issue, [edit your question]($editUrl$) to highlight the difference between the associated question and yours. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened. $br$$br$ **Find out more about [duplicates]($duplicatesUrl$) and why your question [has been closed]($hasBeenClosedUrl$).** (No change)
Guidance to others A community #~closedUserCount#member has associated this post with a similar #~questionCount#question. A community #~closedUserCount#member has associated this post with a similar #~questionCount#question. If you believe that the duplicate closure is incorrect, submit an [edit to the question]($editUrl$) to clarify the difference and recommend the question be reopened.

Needs details or clarity

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Needs details or clarity (No change)
Modal Description This question should include more details and clarify the problem. This question is missing necessary details or it is unclear what specifically the question is asking. It should be edited to include the missing information and clarify the problem.
General notice **Closed**. This question needs [details or clarity]($ClosedQuestionsUrl$). It is not currently accepting answers. (No change)
Post owner guidance Add details and clarify the problem you’re solving. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) or [post a new one]($AskQuestionUrl$). [Edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) to add relevant details and clarify your question. Adding more specific information will help others understand your issue and provide a better answer. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened.
Guidance to others Add details and clarify the problem being solved. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$). As written, this question is lacking some of the information it needs to be answered. If the author adds details in comments, consider [editing them into the question]($EditQuestionUrl$). Once there's sufficient detail to answer, vote to reopen the question.

Needs more focus

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Needs more focus Needs more focus
Modal Description This question currently includes multiple questions in one. It should focus on one problem only. This post currently asks multiple different questions or is too broad to easily address in an answer. It should be edited to focus on a single, specific problem.
General notice **Closed**. This question needs to be more [focused]($ClosedQuestionsUrl$). It is not currently accepting answers. (No change)
Post owner guidance Update the question so it focuses on one problem only. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) or [post a new one]($AskQuestionUrl$). [Edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) so that it focuses on a **single, specific problem**. Right now, your question may contain multiple distinct questions or is too broad to easily address in an answer. Narrowing the question will help others answer the question concisely. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened.
Guidance to others Update the question so it focuses on one problem only. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$). Guide the asker to update the question so it focuses on a single, specific problem. Narrowing the question will help others answer the question concisely. You may [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) if you feel you can improve it yourself. If edited, the question will be reviewed and might be reopened.

This used to be titled "Too broad". I'm not 100% against going back to that framing but I have some specific arguments for why I don't think going back is the right action here. Feel free to convince me otherwise.

The main reason is that "too broad" simply doesn't feel super helpful for people who don't know what that means. While I've included the terminology as a nod to people who have thought "needs focus" was an entirely different close reason, I also feel like "needs focus" does a better job of covering both "too many questions" and "would take an entire book to answer".

My main goal here was to ensure that both meanings are covered since the current text just seems to have forgotten the "too broad" aspect of the close reason entirely.

Opinion-based

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Opinion-based Opinion-based
Modal Description This question is likely to be answered with opinions rather than facts and citations. It should be updated so it will lead to fact-based answers. This question is asking for personal opinions that may lead to discussion or debate rather than objective solutions that can be supported with facts and citations. Not all subjective questions are off topic, so be sure you can identify which should be closed and which are in scope.
General notice **Closed**. This question is [opinion-based]($ClosedQuestionsUrl$). It is not currently accepting answers. (No change)
Post owner guidance Update the question so it can be answered with facts and citations. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) or [post a new one]($AskQuestionUrl$). Because this question may lead to opinionated discussion, debate, and answers, it has been closed. Please [edit]($EditQuestionUrl$) the question so it requires answers that include facts and citations or a detailed explanation of the proposed solution. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened.
Guidance to others Update the question so it can be answered with facts and citations. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$). Because this question may lead to opinionated discussion, debate, and answers, it has been closed. You may [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) if you feel you can improve it so that it requires answers that include facts and citations or a detailed explanation of the proposed solution. If edited, the question will be reviewed and might be reopened.

Not going to lie, this one is the most complex to get right and I'm not sure it's there yet because of that. I'm toying with the idea of creating a new network-wide help page to link to that can be edited by mods on sites that deal with more subjective content (like Parenting, The Workplace, and Interpersonal Skills).

This current phrasing may also be too definite for sites where subjective content is a bit more accepted, so I'm interested to see how we can improve this, if that's the case.

Migration

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network Should be migrated to another site
Modal Description --- This question is out of scope on this site but is on topic on another site in the Stack Exchange network and should be moved there. This close reason should only be used for questions that are of good quality and complete.
General notice This question was migrated to [$toSiteName$]($destinationUrl$) because it can be answered by $destinationSiteAudience$. This question was migrated to [$toSiteName$]($destinationUrl$) because it is [out of scope on]($OnTopicUrl$) [$SiteName$] but can be answered by $destinationSiteAudience$.

I had two goals with this:

  1. Ensure that people understood that a question needed to be out of scope before it could be closed for migration – "better suited to site X" is not a reason to close if it's otherwise on topic.
  2. Ensure that people understand that they should not (as we say) "migrate crap".

And... that's it. As I said at the top, please use one answer per close reason unless you're giving overall feedback or have questions.

I'm not sure when we'll get this built, but I'd love to get responses in the next week so we can move forward and get it added to one of our dev team's calendars.

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    Great initiative, especially "Remove any guidance that suggests asking a new question from all close reasons".
    – Marijn
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 15:27
  • Are other outstanding bug reports and feature requests regarding close notices also being addressed at this time? Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 19:19
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    could be nice for the opinion-based post-owner guidance to have a link to /help/dont-ask for its "good subjective" section.
    – starball
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 19:55
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    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog second paragraph.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 21:08
  • @Catija That's for your current project - what about other upcoming projects from others? Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 21:09
  • Some (but not all) of the cells in the tables above are formatted as code (with backticks), what does this signify? Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 1:32
  • 1
    @ElementsinSpace I kinda explain it in the post but I wanted to preserve the formatting because these are shortcuts we have in place to allow the text to be referential to the specific site, post, user, etc.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 14:57
  • 1
    @Catija I can understand why the various commands (markdown or other) are formatted as code, but I can't understand why whole cells in the table are — it makes it very hard to read, and to distinguish the text from the commands. Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 15:09
  • 1
    See also the feedback from the 2019 new post notices and plans for them.
    – Bergi
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 10:04
  • Why are specific things "modal" here? Like "Modal Title" and "Modal Description"? Does that refer to "modes" of closing? And "close modal" — is it some sort of publishing jargon, like "copy" instead of "text"?
    – anatolyg
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 11:58
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    @anatolyg: The Close modal is the modal window that appears when you click the "Close" button.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 14:02
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    @Bergi I've made an attempt to include the feedback from wherever I could find it, so a link to the post without any specific things I can address at this point isn't very actionable for me.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 16:40
  • @Catija I haven't had time to compile a list of actionable feedback, and if I did it would go in an answer - I just wanted to share the links for everyone
    – Bergi
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 19:23
  • Minor: I think that "off-topic" used as an adjective still ought to be hyphenated, despite the gradual disappearance of hyphens in English. This applies to the Opinion-Based text: "Not all subjective questions are off-topic". Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 14:21
  • 2
    @TobySpeight In your example, there should not be a hyphen there, the hyphen is used when the compound modifies a noun: "The off-topic question is off topic." Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:17

22 Answers 22

95

Please return to using the titles "Too broad" and "Unclear"

Please change the Modal Titles:

  • "Needs more focus" back to "Too broad" and
  • "Needs details or clarity" back to "Unclear".

The modal titles are the identifiers on which people, particularly people voting/flagging for closure, hang the concepts behind the close reasons. The titles should be very short and clearly distinct. The current model titles for these two close reasons are neither of those things and were changed away from modal titles which were. These modal titles are primarily for people interacting with the close vote/flag modal, not the author of the post. The author of the post has substantially more detailed text presented to them. Even in the modal, these modal titles are not the full concept of the close reason. They should be usable as an identifier into which people place the full concepts of close reason and into which people separate the concepts in the close reason from concepts in other reasons.

The current Modal Titles for these are too similar and introduce substantial confusion. This confusion has been a consistent and continuous problem that has plagued both long time users and new users since the change away from "Too broad" and "Unclear" a couple of years ago. After the change in these titles happened, I quickly lost count of the number of times I've seen people ask "What is the difference between 'Needs more focus' and 'Needs details or clarity'?". I still routinely see that asked, usually with quite a bit of frustration, by new users, users new to flagging/closing for closure, and long time users who haven't been actively voting/flagging for closure. A substantial portion of the confusion is because those two current modal titles are longer and begin with the same word, which short-circuits a lot of what we rely upon to quickly separate concepts.

As Sonic the Anonymous Hedgehog pointed out in an edit to this answer, the prior title for "unclear" was actually "unclear what you're asking". I, personally, don't like that wording, because using "you're" in the close-vote/flag modal is a bit confusing to close voters/flaggers (and it's unnecessarily longer), but it would be substantially better than "Needs details or clarity". If something longer than just "unclear" is really desired, then, perhaps, "unclear or needs details". Personally, I feel that "unclear or needs details" is redundant, but it would be notably better than the current modal title.

I'm not saying change the descriptions, just the Modal Titles. Any suggestions I have for other wording changes, if I have any, will be in other answer(s).

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    I do also support changing the names for the same reasons you pointed out (them starting with the same word and sounding too similar), but I don't really like the old wordings either. The "Needs details or clarity" reason is often used in cases where the question is clear but there isn't enough information to answer it, on sites which don't have a community-specific reason to that effect - branding such questions as "unclear" wouldn't be right. My proposed wording would be "Not clear or needs more details". Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 20:53
  • 2
    @Sonic Given that you've suggested the wording "not clear" instead of "unclear", it seems clear you've missed at least part of the point of brevity and having short descriptions which can be used as differentiators/idea placeholders. And, no, you're wrong. If the question "needs more details", that's just a subset of the ways in which the question could be "unclear". Being "clear" does not mean just that the writing is intelligible. It means that the question, i.e. what the asker wants people to respond to, is clear. Being clear includes having enough details to actually be clear.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 22:36
  • 3
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog I'd object quite a bit less to something like "Unclear or needs details". In fact, I'd probably prefer it over the original wording of the "unclear" reason, which, as you've pointed out, was "unclear what you're asking", particularly given that "unclear what you're asking" doesn't read all that well to close voters/flaggers in the close vote/flag dialog. [Well, "original wording" being prior to the late 2019 change.]
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 22:49
  • 1
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog if it needs more details, then it is, by definition, not clear. If it were clear already, there would be no need for more details. The single word unclear nicely encapsulates this.
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 23:07
  • 6
    @terdon "I see exactly what you're asking about, but I can't be sure of the cause unless you tell me [x]" is a valid thing. The question may be clear (as in, one does indeed understand what the other's asking and it's not unclear to them in the general definition of the word's sense) but one may not have enough information to answer. As an example, one's having the same issue which they've described clearly in a piece of software, but the solution is different for different versions of the software (so knowing the version is essential to providing the correct answer). Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 23:14
  • 5
    You also have to see how it comes across to a new user. Calling someone's question "unclear" when to them it seems clear may feel like an attack. On the other hand, saying it "needs more details" doesn't carry that impression. Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 23:16
  • 3
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog exactly: "I can't be sure of the cause unless you tell me [x]", so therefore the question is unclear. Unclear simply means it is not clear to others. Of course it will seem clear to the person who wrote it. In any case, as Makyen has explained very nicely, this is about the names of the modals, so whether a new user would object is irrelevant since new users do not see that, it is something shown to the close voters, not the OP.
    – terdon
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 23:21
  • 3
    @SonictheAnonymousHedgehog "You also have to see how it comes across to a new user." Unfortunately, without substantial, clear, in-your-face explanation, new users are going to feel that their question being closed or downvoted is an attack, personal, "toxic", etc. That's the nature of someone being denied what they want (an answer) and/or getting negative feedback, when they haven't been trained how to receive feedback constructively, which is training that tends not to be done, or, at least, most people don't internalize such lessons.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 0:58
  • While we could lessen those hurt feelings, and changing the wording of these post notices can help, potentially substantially, it would take quite a bit more to make it such that users, mostly, didn't feel closure/downvoting as negative/an attack/toxic. IMO, one thing that would help is to change back to having an "on hold" period where the user isn't told that their question is "closed", but that it's "on hold" pending them improving it.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 0:59
  • I certainly agree that, one way or another, "needs more focus" needs less focus. For instance, questions like Develop a License system to WordPress theme or "how do I develop a web browser" or whatever aren't asking multiple questions so it feels unfriendly or abusive to vote to close close them as such.
    – dbc
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 17:52
  • 1
    An easy fix for the "you're" issue is saying "Unclear what is being asked" instead.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 21:16
  • @TylerH Which makes it even longer. Why do so? None of the other modal titles are sentences or significant fragments. The others are just identifiers. Why is it a good idea for that one to be different? What benefit is there to it being longer?
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 21:29
  • I was going to reply with this exact thing. I've noticed it's been much harder for me to decide which close reason to give since this change, and I sometimes give up and just don't vote to close a question that clearly should be closed, because I don't know what reason to give. Before the change, it was easy to know which one to use.
    – Hearth
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 4:04
  • 1
    @TylerH We're really in the pedantic weeds. :; But..., the actual original text was "unclear what you're asking", which, using the contraction, is one character shorter than "Unclear what is being asked". :; That could be shortened to "Unclear what's being asked", which would be the same length as the original. However, both are substantially longer than "unclear" and a bit longer than "Unclear or needs details". But, again, "Unclear what's being asked" is different wording from the rest of the primary modal titles, which are just titles/identifiers.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 13:37
  • 2
    I think "unclear or lacks details" might be better than "unclear or needs details": "lacks" stands in for "needs more". (But it's a less common word.)
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 18:13
67

Don't use the word "opinionated" in the description for "Opinion-based"

The word "opinionated" does not mean "opinion-based". Instead, it means to be firm, narrow-minded, and arrogant. To quote some dictionaries:

Oxford Dictionary:

conceitedly assertive and dogmatic in one's opinions

Dictionary.com:

obstinate or conceited with regard to the merit of one's own opinions; conceitedly dogmatic

Webster's Dictionary:

firmly or unduly adhering to one's own opinion or to preconceived notions

Vocabulary.com (emphasis added):

obstinate in your opinions

Your opinion is your view, belief, or judgment. If you are opinionated, you obstinately hold on to your opinions, and you don't hesitate to let other people know what those opinions are.

Opinionated is based on the word "opinion," which itself comes from the Latin word opinari, meaning to think. If you and your sister are both extremely opinionated, it must have been hard growing up in the same house — for you and for your parents. Someone who is not at all opinionated can be just as frustrating to live with, though, if their response always seems to be, "I don't care."

[Quiz question] opinionated means: narrow-minded [correct answer]

It is an adjective aimed at the person, not at the discussion itself. I once used this word in a canned comment about subjective questions which called the question "opinionated", and I got two complaints about feeling insulted with that comment. Reading into the actual definition of the word, I can see why calling a question "opinionated" would come across as insulting.

Please do not use the word "opinionated" in the close reason. Replacing it with "subjective" is probably the best thing to do.

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  • 2
    I don't agree with this. First, if you are talking about this section: "opinionated discussion, debate, and answers", then subjective is simply wrong. We often allow subjective responses, particularly if people are clear about them being subjective. Second, that section is not calling the question opinionated. It is calling potential responses opinionated. Third, it muddies the point of that section. The whole point, is to say that it leads to bad responses. Even if the question itself is not bad in any other way. Opinion-based questions lead to opinionated responses.
    – mdfst13
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 12:44
  • 8
    @mdfst13 Once again, opinionated is an adjective you use for the person, not for any type of text. Second, discussion that fundamentally involves opinions need not necessarily be written by an opinionated person - those would be bordering on violations of the Code of Conduct, and a notice that says a question would lead to such things isn't nice. Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 20:27
  • There is a scene in the Nero Wolfe books where Nero is described as burning a dictionary because it listed contact as a verb. Nero felt "contact" was only a noun. However, modern usage is for contact to be used as a verb. Nero is of course a strongly opinionated character. Anyway, my point is that opinionated, as used in that section, expresses the desired sentiment. Subjective most decidedly does not. So, which is the greater sin? To use a word to describe the discussion in a way that accurately describes the discussion? Or to use a word that is inaccurate in meaning?
    – mdfst13
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 7:23
  • And in terms of being nice. Is it nice to close a person's question? No, it is not. It's mean. Ask anyone who has had their question closed. The problem is not that the language of the close reason is not nice. The problem is that we are fundamentally rejecting discussion questions. There is no way to make that nice. If you want to be nice, then the approach is fundamentally unsound. Instead of closing those questions move them to a platform where they can be answered. That would be much nicer.
    – mdfst13
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 7:30
  • 1
    @mdfst13 "So, which is the greater sin?" Offending the user is surely the greater sin, and calling them "opinionated" is a good way to offend people. If you don't like "subjective" (which I agree, doesn't quite mean what we want here), then perhaps "opinion-based"?
    – Marti
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 15:24
  • @mdfst13 It is neither nice nor mean to close a question. Moderation actions are taken on/made against content, not users.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 18:05
  • @TylerH And opinionated is being used as a description of the content, however semantically inaccurately. But if you think people whose questions are closed don't think that the people closing the question are mean, then you don't have a very realistic view of human emotions. Beyond that, it is a cold, heartless system. People ask for help and are told they won't get it. It may be true that you are not intending harm to the people whose questions you close. But they feel harmed regardless. Those users feel greatly offended by the action, far more than by any language used to describe it
    – mdfst13
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 18:14
  • @mdfst13 I'm not talking about what people think or feel is the case. I'm talking about what is the case. It's important to not muddy the discussion here with things like being nice or being mean or how people think or feel. We're talking about how to handle or describe content here, so that should be the focus of your remarks.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 18:19
  • @TylerH Hmm. Did you read this comment thread? I wasn't the person who introduced the word nice. And frankly, to claim that this particular discussion is not about how people feel is, well, an incorrect statement. See the part of the answer about "feeling insulted". If talking about how people feel is inappropriate, then this answer is inappropriate. Because that's what it discusses.
    – mdfst13
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 18:23
  • @mdfst13 I did read them. While Sonic mentioned one reason we shouldn't use opinionated is because it refers to people, you were the one who spent an entire comment on other aspects of using the network that people might think is nice or mean, muddying the discussion.
    – TylerH
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 18:29
  • @TylerH Because I was responding to "that's not nice". And "other aspects of using the network"? We are talking about the close reason text. Closing questions is not another aspect of the network. That's the aspect under discussion. The truth is that it doesn't really matter what that text says. People who have just had their question closed don't really care about that text. They're annoyed about their question being closed. Closing our eyes to that is the real muddying of the discussion.
    – mdfst13
    Commented Apr 26, 2023 at 22:22
50

This is a bit of a basic request, perhaps too basic, but currently the 'post owner guidance' messages all end with: "If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened." Could that be changed to "If edited, your question will be reviewed by the community and might be reopened."?

It's okay if this doesn't happen, but I remember being a bit perplexed, as a new user, by how exactly the whole 'reopening' thing worked. Did the same people who voted to close have to change their minds? Did reopening have to involve diamond mods? Maybe it's just me, but I think that I'd have appreciated a bit of context/information regarding the mechanics of who exactly would need to be involved in reopening. I assume that other users may have had similar experiences.


On a very related note, there's an inconsistency in the wording of the message, as @Mayken mentioned in a comment: the 'guidance to others' message for 'opinion-based' reads "If edited, the question may be reviewed and might be reopened." The other messages all use 'will' instead of 'may.' They should probably all be changed to match with each other ("...will be reviewed..."), both for consistency and for accuracy, as all posts submitted for review are indeed reviewed.

4
  • 1
    Not all posts are reviewed. At least not on Stack Overflow, where the review queues are always full and some posts are removed from the queue before the required three votes have been cast for it. There's a time limit for how long a post is in the queue. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:27
  • @CrisLuengo We could put that all in the if part of the sentence. "If edited and reviewed and reopened, your question will be." Indicating that at each step there is a certain chance of success only. :) Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 7:05
  • 1
    Is the passive voice really necessary here? How about "After an edit, the community may review and reopen your question."
    – Joooeey
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 8:09
  • Also keep in mind that close and reopen votes are not just cast from the queues but also from people stumbling onto the question or those hovering over them,
    – Joooeey
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 8:11
44

Please return to using the modal title "Primarily opinion based" instead of "opinion based"

If "primarily" isn't desired, then some alternatives for "primarily" would be various synonyms, such as "largely", "mostly", "predominately", "fundamentally", "essentially", etc.

There's a big difference between questions which are primarily opinion based and ones that have some measure of opinion involved in the answers. Where the line is drawn can vary quite a bit depending on which network site is being considered. However, most, if not all sites, support some level of opinion in answering. Even in hard sciences, for things that are not already highly supported by many studies and/or proof, there's often some level of opinion involved as to which pile of evidence to believe. Obviously, we generally want questions and answers which are not just opinion, but where that line exists is a per-site issue.

Unfortunately, even on Stack Overflow, the change to using just "opinion based" has made a lot of people feel that the extent to which a question can need opinions to answer must be zero or near-zero, which has never been the case. While I think the changes in the detailed post notice text should help both the author and other users looking at the question once it's closed, those changes won't affect how close-voters/flaggers interpret the close reason. I feel that one of the best things that could be done to affect how close-voters/flaggers view the close reason is to return to using an intensifier, such as "primarily", as part of the modal title.

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    Stack Overflow has a lot of close-voters who want to close anything that isn't a debugging/compilation question, and yes, they've been using weasel words like "what is the best approach to X" to close it as opinion-based, while the OP is actually just looking for any way. Instead of editing, they choose the easy way out (for themselves, for their stats, or for whatever reason) and just close it. Incorrectly, IMHO.
    – CodeCaster
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 9:19
  • 1
    Recent example of this exact phenomenon on Meta.SO.
    – zcoop98
    Commented Apr 7, 2023 at 16:50
  • People will close an issue for saying "What's the best way to do x?" instead of "How can I do x?"
    – Elin
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 19:22
  • @Elin Please explain how that is relevant to this answer. Are you saying that people are more likely to close as "primarily opinion based" than they are as "opinion based"? If so, I disagree with that. I'd expect it to be less likely that questions get closed as "primarily opinion based" than they are as "opinion based", which is why I've made this request. If you're just complaining that people do close as opinion based when the question says "What's the best way to do x?" instead of "How can I do x?", then there's no need to say just that here.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 22:21
  • If you're trying to argue that people shouldn't close as opinion based when "what is the best way to do X" is used, then this isn't the place to make that argument (regardless of if it should happen or not, which tends to depend on the details of the situation).
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 20, 2023 at 22:22
  • @Elin You appear to think this answer is asking for the opposite of what it's actually asking for. The current close reason uses a modal title of "opinion based". This answer is asking to return the close reason to use a modal title of "primarily opinion based", which would then indicate the reason was more restrictive than current modal title of "opinion based".
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 0:10
  • @Elin Yes, comments on meta sites can be commentary on the post you're commenting upon, but only pointing out that "best way" is considered opinion based by some users has little or no relevance by itself to this answer, which is just about the modal title. Please explain what relevance you feel there is for the fact you've pointed out (that people will close questions asking for the "best way" as opinion based) with respect to changing the modal title of the close reason from "opinion based" to "primarily opinion based".
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 21, 2023 at 0:15
43

Not sure if this is outside the scope of this round, but I've always struggled with the "migrated from" post notice:

Screenshot of the migration notice on the receiving site

My problem with this is the links. Unlike the "migrated to" notice, the "migrated from" notice has the links in the opposite order. The URL in "was migrated from" points to the FAQ question on meta, while the link in "Migrated [time] ago" points to the original question on the other site. And as I was reminded about in the comments, both the links are on the word "migrated", which doesn't exactly clear up any confusion.

I have no idea how many times I've made this mistake, and I still keep clicking on the FAQ link instead of the source link, because I do it more often with "migrated to" notices where the links are, arguably, more sane. The "migrated to" notice is also consistent with the return notice, where the first link is to the original question, and the "Migrated [time] ago" link is to the FAQ.

This is already included in the question, in both the current and proposed version.

This question was migrated to [$toSiteName$]($destinationUrl$) because it is [out of scope on]($OnTopicUrl$) [$SiteName$] but can be answered by $destinationSiteAudience$.

This is the proposed version, but the current version has the links in the same relative positions

Please consider making the "migrated from" notice links consistent with the "migrated to" notice links. Assuming no other changes to the text, the notice on the migration target could be

This question was migrated from [$fromSiteName$]($sourceUrl$) because it can be answered on [$SiteName$]

It also appears the "Migrated [time] ago" bit isn't part of the template, but the link there has to be changed to point to the FAQ to complete the change.

Example question pair for a demonstration: destination, source, though this does appear on any migrated questions. Feel free to find examples on Your Favorite Site™


Note: I'm only commenting on the link order, and not the content. Whether the text is changed from my example isn't really important to me, as long as the links are placed as sanely as the "migrated to" dialog

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    "I have no idea how many times I've made this mistake, and I still keep clicking on the FAQ link instead of the source link" for what it's worth, I think I click the wrong link every single time. I don't know how many times I have clicked total, though.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 17:32
  • 3
    @VLAZ I do it every single time too. Gets old real fast
    – Zoe
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 17:32
  • 10
    I default to clicking both and closing the one I didn't need. The problem is both links are under the same text, 'migrated'. Renaming either may be sufficient, but the current situation definitely is counter-intuitive.
    – Mast
    Commented Apr 2, 2023 at 18:33
  • 2
    An added bonus of your proposed wording is that it clarifies that we will only migrate questions that are off-topic on the source site.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 10:34
  • Wouldn't "moved" be simpler than "migrated"? Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 12:29
  • 1
    +100 It's also inconsistent across various SE sites, iirc.
    – NVZ
    Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 3:31
  • 1
    It should be consistent everywhere since there's only one chunk of text but I agree that I can never remember which "migrated" will take me to the question and which the FAQ. I'll see if we can adjust which words get these links and make it more obvious.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 14:33
  • How about the FAQ link is self explanatory blurb: See the help center about migrations; or something like it.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 15:29
  • @Catija A quick example. "Migrated (x time units) ago" links to MSE on this Q, while on the same Q post-migration, "Migrated (x time units) ago" links to the revision history.
    – NVZ
    Commented Jul 24, 2023 at 17:28
27

This is just a wording tweak proposal for the Opinion-based guidance to viewers.

Your proposed updated text reads

Because this question may lead to opinionated discussion, debate, and answers, it has been closed. You may edit the question if you feel you can improve it so that it requires answers that include facts and citations or a detailed explanation of the proposed solution. If edited, the question will be reviewed and might be reopened.

I think the "and answers" part is weird and potentially hilarious. I'd suggest moving things around a bit.

This question has been closed because in its current form, it may lead to opinion-based answers, discussion, or debate. You may edit the question if you feel you can improve it so that it encourages answers that are based on facts and citations or a detailed explanation of the proposed solution. If edited, the question will be reviewed by the community, and might be reopened.

The first sentence also changes "opinionated" to "opinion-based" in response to Sonic's suggestion.

The middle sentence is also modified slightly for what I perceive to be improved flow.

In the last sentence, I also added the "by the community" phrase suggested by CDR in their answer.

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    "facts and citations or" -- I feel like these two conjunctions need some punctuation so that I know where to pause when reading the sentence. I think "citations" should have a comma or maybe a semi-colon after it. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 8:29
  • "based on cited facts or a detailed explanation of the proposed solution" Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:32
  • what if "answers" was removed entirely? Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 2:53
  • 2
    CLOSE ALL THE QUESTIONS! No answers are allowed!!! :D This is a fair point.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 14:31
18

Please mention "Too broad" before "asking multiple questions"

Regardless of whether or not you go back to using "Too broad" instead of "Needs focus" in the title, I think mentioning "too broad" before "asking multiple questions" in the description and guidance is critical (at the very least in the post owner guidance).

Many new users don't actually read the whole thing and as soon as they see "asking multiple questions", they become defensive and reply (in comments, ranting on meta, etc.) with "BUT I DID NOT ASK MULTIPLE QUESTIONS!!!"

0
16

Flesh out the modal description for migration, specifically as to what makes a question 'complete.' Right now, the description reads:

This question is out of scope on this site but is on topic on another site in the Stack Exchange network and should be moved there. This close reason should only be used for questions that are of good quality and complete.

I think that adding more context about that 'complete' part would be helpful. Since your commentary says that the intent of this message is to clarify that we shouldn't be migrating crappy questions, perhaps something along the lines of the following would have a similar effect, without having room for confusion regarding what actually makes a question 'complete':

This close reason should be used for questions that are of good quality and meet the standards of the site to which they are being migrated.

I also think that it would be helpful to link to the other site's 'on-topic' section in its help center. ([site].stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) This would allow close-voters to make sure that they aren't migrating a question that is in fact off topic on the other site as well.

Edit: this would have been useful when this question was migrated from Christianity.SE to English.SE. Sure, it seems to be more about English than about Christianity, but it still doesn't meet our site's 'please include the research you've done...' close reason. (The migration was eventually rejected and it's now back on Christianity, where it's also been closed.) This probably wouldn't have happened if the user(s) who migrated it to English had been able to easily access our help center.

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  • 1
    This is a good point. But I would prefer getting rid of the whole migration mechanic. It's better to tell the user that their post might be more suitable for a different site, and let them make the post there themselves. Comments to migrated questions often don't get any responses by the author, who probably doesn't know their question is now somewhere where they don't even have an account. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:38
15

Please use "on-topic" and "off-topic" instead of "in scope" and "out of scope"

While I have no problem understanding what's meant in the text when "in scope" and "out of scope" are used, the sites primarily use the text "on-topic" and "off-topic" to reference those concepts. For example, in the Meta Stack Exchange help center, there are 90 results for "on-topic" and 32 results for "off-topic", while there are only 7 results for "scope". "Scope" is also used to reference the scope of what's being asked within a question, rather than only the scope of the site, which makes it less clear what is being referenced in some cases. I suspect the use of the terms "in scope" and "out of scope" will be more confusing to people who are not that proficient in English. It's also better to maintain consistency across the site when using a term to refer to a concept. Doing so reduces confusion.

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    "On-topic" and "off-topic" aren't quite accurate in many cases, which I believe is why the proposed wording generally avoids using those terms (though there are some exceptions). Questions like "Can you help me identify this movie?" would obviously appear to be "on-topic" on the Movies & TV Stack Exchange site, because the topic they're about is the topic of the site – it's just that that type of question is no longer allowed on the site.
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 15:42
  • (I believe this was also a major reason for the renaming of "off-topic" close reasons to "community-specific close reasons.) Do you have ideas on how we can communicate this clearly, without using the phrasing "on-"/"off-topic"?
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 15:42
  • 2
    @V2Blast Yes, there will be confusion. There will always be confusion, because many people who are posting don't care if something is on-topic or off-topic. They just want an answer. They, generally, don't bother to even check the scope of the site and have no clue what limits there are beyond the name. As you know, every site has two help center pages which describe "on-topic" and "dont-ask" (for things that might seem like they should be on-topic, but aren't). Not having things use consistent names and terms adds to the confusion. It doesn't clear it up.
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 16:13
  • 13
    @V2Blast If you (the company) feels that using "scope" is better, then change it everywhere. Don't force users to learn multiple terms to describe the same thing. [Note: it's also negative to change a term which has been in use for a long time, as there will continue to be uses by people who have the old use ingrained in their habits. Changing something like this takes a substantial period of time, typically years, prior to the old terms not being used routinely.]
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 16:15
  • 2
    Note: My most recent comment here should begin with 'If you (the company) feels that using "in scope" and "out of scope" is better than using "on topic" and "off topic", then ...'. The word "scope" by itself is, mostly, reasonable, other than that the help center uses it in a few places for both the scope of the site (topicality) and the scope of a question (i.e. how broad the question is).
    – Makyen
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 20:19
  • 1
    "On-topic" and "off-topic" implicitly refer to topics (e.g. programming, plumbing, cooking, SQL injection vulnerabilities) and no other part of the question. An opinion-based SQL injection vulnerability question isn't off-topic because it's opinion-based, because "opinion-based" isn't a topic. Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 2:54
  • I would be ok with removing topicness from the documentation @V2Blast. It's just too overloaded on these sites. I've seen people arguing me that off topic means that it should be closed, rather than being a cooking question on a home improvement site. Scope, scope definition, etc. would remove that overloaded term. But make sure that you make the distinction clear against other close reasons. There is some verbiage about "some questions are on topic, but aren't good for these sites".
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 13:55
  • Alternative phrasing: "Doesn't fit the charter of the site", "The site rules don't allow", "isn't accepted here", "is a horrible/bad/awful question". (with sarcasm on the last one.) Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 11:23
13

Besides what tripleee already wrote about the opinion-based reason, I'd add one more thing. Replace "may lead" with something stronger. Because, especially on the more subjective sites but certainly not only there, any user abusing the comment or answer section "may lead" to opinion-based text somewhere.

Previously, this close-reason was called primarily opinion-based, and I think the text should still reflect that by using something a bit stronger than just "may lead". Perhaps "is very likely to lead" or something.

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    I would use instead "will lead", as in "this will be the inevitable result".
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:58
  • Even "often lead" or "usually lead" would be stronger than "may lead" Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 11:24
  • "will lead" is perfect. Short and sweet. It makes clear that the OP is basically asking for opinions (out of scope) vs asking a question that touches a controversial topic (in scope). The OP has little responsibility to predict how others will react but it is her responsibility to not invite opinions.
    – Joooeey
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 8:18
10

Migration needs more clarity

One of the problems with migration is we don't offer good guidance. This advice hasn't really changed

The problem with allowing arbitrary sites to be entered is that a lot of the time, the community on one site has really no idea what is on-topic and considered of sufficient quality on another site. As such the Stack Exchange dev team has resisted adding a open-ended migrate option; the Stack Overflow community doesn't get to decide what is on topic in other communities, basically.

I have edited the Proposed column top hopefully clarify that some

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network Should be migrated to another site
Modal Description --- This question is not within the scope of this site on this site, but is not low quality. Another Stack Exchange site has this topic within its scope, and moving it there may get it answered.
General notice This question was migrated to [$toSiteName$]($destinationUrl$) because it can be answered by $destinationSiteAudience$. This question was migrated to [$toSiteName$]($destinationUrl$) because it is [out of scope on]($OnTopicUrl$) [$SiteName$] but is within the scope of $destinationSiteAudience$.
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  • 4
    I feel like the second sentence of @Catija's proposed modal description already addresses this, in a clearer fashion (because it's worded as guidance to the user viewing the Close modal): "This question is out of scope on this site but is on topic on another site in the Stack Exchange network and should be moved there. This close reason should only be used for questions that are of good quality and complete." (CDR's answer suggests clarifying the "and complete" part of Cat's proposed wording, but otherwise sticks with Cat's proposal.)
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 21:23
  • 1
    While you're right about us wanting to remind folks not to migrate bad questions, can you clarify how your proposed wording is clearer than Cat's proposed wording in that regard?
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 3, 2023 at 21:25
  • 2
    @V2Blast I was wanting to emphasize the Low Quality aspect more. I see this frequently on SO, where people often misuse the 5 stock migration sites and migrate poor questions solely because "it's on-topic over there".
    – Machavity
    Commented Apr 4, 2023 at 12:36
  • 1
    I think this version may under-emphasize that migration is only appropriate for questions that are out of scope on the source site.
    – Ryan M
    Commented Apr 5, 2023 at 11:32
  • 3
    I don't love is not low quality; it's not quite a double negative, but it's close enough to one to be a little tricky to parse.
    – TRiG
    Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 0:26
  • 1
    Yeah @TRiG, I would prefer something like "is of sufficiently quality" or perhaps "acceptably clear and precise". Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 14:40
  • Suggested wording, which is easier to parse: "This is a good question, but it falls outside the scope of this site. …" Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 7:28
  • @200_success except that it could be both: outside the scope and a terrible question.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 17, 2023 at 15:25
  • @Briam Migration is only for good questions. If it's out of scope and a terrible question, then it should just be closed and not nominated for migration. Commented Apr 18, 2023 at 18:44
  • @200_success there is a reason why some sites have asked to be removed from the default list of migrations. Sadly most of them were used for questions that have both.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 25, 2023 at 19:21
9

If edited, the question will be reviewed and might be reopened.

I like that this gives hope to the user, but at the same time I feel it's a little misleading. Many new users miss the "significant edit" checkbox while editing. I think the guidance should make the user aware of that option, but I'm not sure how to do that without making the text too long. This is my best attempt:

On the 'Edit' page, you'll have the option to submit the question for review by the community to be considered for reopening.

Note: I'm still against making the checkbox ticked by default. So, that's not what I'm proposing here.

2
  • This is something that we discussed while working through this text... my personal feeling (and why we didn't include it) is that while it's more correct, it's a lot of info to throw at someone in a post notice. It feels like it needs to be explained when they start editing, not when the question is closed. Describing a box they can't see on a page they have to click through to feels more confusing.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 14:30
  • @Catija You don't have to describe it. Just mentioning that the option exists will make the user look for it. That said, I agree that having the edit page guide the user is the most efficient way.
    – 41686d6564
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 16:14
8

Re: Opinion Based

I think this one confuses everyone.

What I think the rule intends: we do not want answers that are simply opinions. We want answers that can be distinctly judged as being right or wrong. If your question cannot have distinctly correct answers then your question is bad.

What other people use the rule to justify: Your question could have more than one answer, and which answer is best is opinion, therefore the question is bad. Basically we are going to shut down your question because we're afraid it might invite opinion based answers. A question that invites 15 different ways to do a thing, all of which work, is not necessarily a bad question. (Perhaps it "needs more focus" but I'll address that in a second.)

It's the difference between "what color of socks is best" and "what sock material is the best insulating for cold weather". Both can have multiple answers. Some would VTC both question as "opinion based". Really only the first is opinion based, because it can have no answer that is not 100% opinion. The second can have more than one answer, and they may all be right, given certain conditions.

Some would still close the question thinking that more detail would eliminate the opinions, but in doing so they actually ruin the value of the question and the answers. We don't want 50 nuanced, hyper-specific questions about socks, all of which are so specific to the asker that they are of no value to anyone else. An array of solid answers detailing information relevant to cold weather and sock materials is of good general use, and more valuable for everyone.

Possible replacement wording:

Yours:

This question is asking for personal opinions that may lead to discussion or debate rather than objective solutions that can be supported with facts and citations. Not all subjective questions are off topic, so be sure you can identify which should be closed and which are in scope.

Mine:

Answers to this question are likely to be based primarily on subjective personal opinion not supported with facts and citations. While a question may invite multiple answers or ideas, it shouldn't lead to debate and argument.

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  • Could be improved by removing passive voice: "it cannot simply be soliciting personal opinions" -> "it cannot simply solicit personal opinions" Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:15
  • Too much negation removal: "no possible answers which are not" -> "All answers to this question will be" Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:20
  • 2
    Maybe: "Answers to this question are likely to be based primarily on subjective personal opinion not supported with facts and citations. While a question may invite multiple answers or ideas, it shouldn't lead to debate and argument." Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:49
  • @StephenOstermiller Yeah I like that. Really I just want to communicate that it's fine to solicit ideas, so long as each individual idea can be judged on its merits. e.g. "here's a way to solve your problem" with an objectively correct answer, without necessarily implying there can only be one correct answer. Mostly I'm coming from Worldbuilding, where Opinion and Focus rules cause a lot of disagreements, and it's not that unusual to get 5 VTCs followed within a day by 5 VTRs, purely from different interpretations of SE's rules.
    – JamieB
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 18:38
6

"Needs improvement" must be changed too

I couldn't see this being addressed:

Reality is that lots of irredeemable questions get asked. There are lots of questions which can't be improved in order for them to become acceptable. The flag dialog should not have been changed to put everything under the heading of "needs improvement" when that is not true for many close reasons.

Please change it to something else. Perhaps "needs to be closed".

For example: in what way should this question be improved?

screenshot of a terrible off-topic MSE question and the flag
dialog

From The flagging dialog should not put all the custom close reasons under the heading of "needs improvement"

3
  • Disagree. Almost nothing needs to be closed - it's a want, at best, to slightly reduce clutter. Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 2:55
  • @user253751 How would you suggest the post on this site about buying bitcoins be improved then? If you clicked on "needs improvement" which specific option would fit? Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 3:23
  • that's why I said almost nothing. However, that example also fits "very low quality" Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 20:34
5

Lots of good changes in general, thank you for addressing this at long last!

Opinion based on sites without subjective questions?

This question is asking for personal opinions that may lead to discussion or debate rather than objective solutions that can be supported with facts and citations. Not all subjective questions are off topic, so be sure you can identify which should be closed and which are in scope.

This is probably a good way to word it in general, but the final sentence is misleading for sites where there are basically almost no allowed subjective questions. For example, on Christianity we've worked hard to make the scope restricted strictly to objectively answerable questions. There are some borderline questions that don't get closed, but they're not common. The problem with this wording is that it makes it look like there is a class of subjective questions that is accepted. Whereas I'd say that for those borderline subjective questions, if anyone thinks it's too subjective they should definitely vote to close it. The only subjective questions that remain are those whose subjectivity is very minor. I don't want the close modal to make our users second guess their inclination to close such questions.

Would it be possible to have two sets of descriptions then, based on whether the site is one that desires good subjective questions?

1
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    Conversely, over on Code Review, we expect answers to have quite a large amount of opinion, and almost never use this close reason. Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 14:33
3

Duplicate/Guidance to others/proposed

Currently the proposal contains:

... and recommend the question be reopened.

I would align this to the text used for other classes:

... vote to reopen the question

or make even more explicit, that the re-open word has to be clicked. Since mostly inexperienced users will get that message, recommend may be a bit too cloudy.


Concerning comment from V2Blast

... vote to reopen the question or - if greyed out - leave a comment stating that intention

The problem I see is, that even an experienced user may have no clue, to which action recommend maps, since for other contexts this is a synonym for upvote. If I understand you correctly, vote to reopen may not be available. But the cloudy phrase is in 100% of the cases unhelpful.

1
  • 1
    I think the reason for the proposed wording in Cat's post is that this guidance would be shown to all users in the post notice, regardless of whether they can vote to close/reopen questions. Do you have a suggestion on how to phrase this in a way that it makes sense for users whether or not they have the privilege?
    – V2Blast
    Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 19:54
2

Needs more focus ...

Encourage others to edit these questions?

The suggested new guidance to others is:

Guide the asker to update the question so it focuses on a single, specific problem. Narrowing the question will help others answer the question concisely. You may edit the question if you feel you can improve it yourself. If edited, the question will be reviewed and might be reopened.

(emphasis added by me)

What can make someone feel they can edit someone else's question? I can only think of a few reasons where this is the case:

  • The author adds focus in the comments.
  • By some coincidence all answers interpret the too broad question in the same narrow way. This scenario is not particularly likely, though.

On the other hand, the guidance to encourage edits could cause a lot of confusion such as:

  • Pre-existing answers don't match the question anymore.
  • The author gets frustrated that their question changes its meaning.

IMHO, these concerns may justify leaving out the guidance to encourage edits, or alternatively using more careful wording such as:

  • "You may edit the question if you can improve it yourself." — At least this doesn't have the subjective word "feel".
  • "If the author adds details in comments, consider editing them into the question" — This only addresses a subset of the potential reasons to edit, though.

Note that leaving out the sentence about edits doesn't imply that edits are not welcome.

Note: Feel free to edit the bullet lists!

0

The duplicate text still makes claims that don't agree with how the system works and what the rest of the message says.

We are supposed to mark two questions as duplicate because they are indeed asking the same thing, and one of the messages explicitly says so "[this] question has been asked before", but then the message muddies the waters by saying that they are "related". While technically true that two questions asking the same thing are "related", the meaning of "duplicates" is more narrow, since it means "these two questions are asking the same thing, so any answer would apply to one or the other".

Please, modify the text to make sure this is what it does:

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Duplicate (No change)
Modal Description This question has been asked before and already has an answer. (No change)
General notice This question already has #~questionCount#an answer here:
This question already exists:
(No change)
Post owner guidance Your post has been associated with a similar #~questionCount#question. If that question doesn’t answer your issue, [edit your question]($editUrl$) to highlight the difference between the associated question and yours. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened. $br$$br$ **Find out more about [duplicates]($duplicatesUrl$) and why your question [has been closed]($hasBeenClosedUrl$).** Your question has been found to be asked before. If that question doesn’t address your issue, [edit your question]($editUrl$) to highlight the difference between the associated question and yours. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened. $br$$br$ **Find out more about [duplicates]($duplicatesUrl$) and why your question [has been closed]($hasBeenClosedUrl$).**
Guidance to others A community #~closedUserCount#member has associated this post with a similar #~questionCount#question. A community #~closedUserCount#member has associated this post with another #~questionCount#question as they ask about the same issue. If you believe that the duplicate closure is incorrect, submit an [edit to the question]($editUrl$) to clarify the difference or vote for the the question be reopened.
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  • 1
    Or perhaps "appears to" rather than "has been found to" - that might offer encouragement for a constructive edit to clarify the differences. Commented Apr 6, 2023 at 14:35
  • 1
    I prefer the duplicate close reason to be, as it used to be, "this question has been answered before" -- if the answers to a different question answer this question, then it can be closed as duplicate. It is the answers that we don't want to duplicate. Who cares what the other question says? Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:51
  • @CrisLuengo "restart the pc" is the answer to many questions. A single answer isn't enough to determine whenever or not two questions are duplicates, since disparaged issues happens to have the same solutions. So, the questions being semantically equivalent in a way that answers to both would be equally valid is a good measure and would prevent complaining by users that the questions is incorrectly closed as duplicate. If you are speaking from a cost perspective (like dupehammer), using the hammer to just get the question "out of the way" is rarely effective.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 15:56
  • 1
    Users always complain that their question is not identical, because their variable name is "foo" and not "bar". And I sometimes have to include a comment, after dupe-closing a post, saying that the questions are not really the same, but the underlying issue is the same, and the answers over there exactly describe what is going on and how to fix the issue. We really don't want to duplicate answers. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 16:07
  • @CrisLuengo while that's correct, it's not correct on all situations. For example, I had an issue with CORS while developing a Chrome extension years ago. It was closed as duplicate of the cors question. Problem is, that those only applied to server side cors, not client side cors errors. None of the answers would have ever help me, nor anyone in my situation because those were answering a question that while having the same symptoms, has context that made it totally different.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 16:34
  • Braiam, you're strengthening my argument: if the answers don't answer your question, it's not a duplicate. The questions are similar, but not duplicates because the answers are different. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 16:42
  • @CrisLuengo except that by that time my question is already closed and downvoted and I will be very salty because some user decided to waste my time telling me to read a bunch of unrelated answers. Closing as duplicate has to have strong evidence that both questions ask about the same issue. If someone is closing as duplicate merely because it mentions a generic error, or have a generic description doesn't mean they are duplicates.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 17:57
  • I agree with that. The issue has to be clear from the question. If it’s ambiguous enough that it can be answered in different ways, it’s not possible to find a duplicate. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 18:53
0

I really like all of these suggestions.

Duplicate:

The duplicate verbiage has always been quite ambiguous about whether to close a question as duplicate if it sufficiently matches another question, or if it has been answered elsewhere. You can't close as duplicate if the target post doesn't have answers, which indicates to me that this is about avoiding duplicate answers. The "general notice" also says:

This question already has an answer here: ...

I think this needs to remain that way. We want to avoid copy-pasting answers, we don't necessarily need to care about whether the questions themselves are similar or not.

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Duplicate (No change)
Modal Description This question has been asked before and already has an answer. This question has already been answered before.
General notice This question already has #~questionCount#an answer here:
This question already exists:
(No change)
Post owner guidance Your post has been associated with a similar #~questionCount#question. If that question doesn’t answer your issue, [edit your question]($editUrl$) to highlight the difference between the associated question and yours. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened. $br$$br$ **Find out more about [duplicates]($duplicatesUrl$) and why your question [has been closed]($hasBeenClosedUrl$).** Your post has been associated with a related #~questionCount#question. If the answers to that question don’t solve your issue, [edit your question]($editUrl$) to emphasize the part that is not answered. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened. $br$$br$ **Find out more about [duplicates]($duplicatesUrl$) and why your question [has been closed]($hasBeenClosedUrl$).**
Guidance to others A community #~closedUserCount#member has associated this post with a similar #~questionCount#question. A community #~closedUserCount#member has associated this post with a related #~questionCount#question. If you believe that those answers do not answer this question, submit an [edit to the question]($editUrl$) to clarify the difference and recommend the question be reopened.

Of course this might look funny when we close a duplicate post by the same author that hasn't been answered yet...

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    No, we absolutely care if the questions are the same. If the questions are "what is 3+5?" and "What is 4+4?" those are not duplicates, just because the answers both happen to be 8. While this is a silly example, it's an important proof.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 16:43
  • @Catija I don’t agree. Requiring the questions to be the same leads to complaints about “my code uses variable ‘foo’, the other question asks about variable ‘bar’, it’s different!” because they don’t don’t like their question closed, it brings out the lawyers in them. If I have to copy-paste the “8” answer to many different questions, then we’re duplicating information, which is bad. I often leave a comment “the questions are not really the same, but the underlying issue is the same, and the answers over there exactly describe what is going on and how to fix the issue.” People appreciate that. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 17:14
  • 3
    They don't have to be identical, no. A better example may be "what colors are a zebra?" and "What colors are a penguin?" - they're different animals but they have the same colors - those are not duplicate questions. That doesn't prevent "What color is an emperor penguin?" from being closed as a duplicate of "What colors are penguins?" - A good version of the latter would include any special information for specific cases. If not, then the user can handle it.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 0:31
  • 1
    @Catija the term you are looking for is that questions have to be "semantically equivalent". The rule of thumb is "two questions are duplicates if all potential answers to A also apply to B and viceversa".
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 16:37
  • @Catija Not all penguins have the same colors as zebras, I don't think that's a good example. How about this example: Q:" I have a stain on my ceiling, what is causing it?" A: "You have a leaky roof. This is how you find the leak and fix it: <long explanations>". Another Q: "I have a puddle on the floor, what is causing it?" A: "<identical>". (1/2) Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 16:46
  • 1
    The questions are obviously not even similar, but the answers are identical because the underlying problem is the same, and the solution is the same. Do you want people to copy-paste the answer into the new question, or close the question as a duplicate? I prefer not duplicating the information. This situation occurs on Stack Overflow a lot.(2/2) Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 16:46
  • @Catija There are also cases where very similar questions are not duplicates. For example on Code Review there are tons of people posting their code for, say, a linked list in Python. All these questions are obviously similar. Many of these people will even have similar issues with their code. And many, many code reviews point out the same issues in people's code. None of these are duplicates, because each case has different combination of issues to discuss. No two answers over there are the same. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 16:53
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    @CrisLuengo What if I live in an apartment and my ceiling is the floor of someone else? And the neighbor above dies in his house? My ceiling is having a stain, with strong smells, but it would be very unlikely that those answers help me at all.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 17:50
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    @Braiam Ideally the question has enough detail to be answered, so that it is clear from the questions that both issues have the same underlying cause. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 18:51
  • Yes, ideally. Sadly, the bar for "ideal" is too low and most questions fails to meet it. We need to make more use of the other close reasons.
    – Braiam
    Commented Apr 12, 2023 at 14:48
  • 1
    I also agree that the current wording doesn't make much logical sense. Questions on SE generally don't answer anything. Perhaps the wording "If that Q&A doesn't answer your issue, [...]" works better. But it has the drawback that Q&A is an acronym that isn't universally understood. "If that question page doesn't answer your issue, [...]" is another option.
    – Joooeey
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 9:18
0

Needs More Focus

Yours:

This post currently asks multiple different questions or is too broad to easily address in an answer. It should be edited to focus on a single, specific problem.

Proposed:

This post current covers multiple different topics or is too broad to easily address in a single answer. It should be edited to focus on a single, specific problem.

The issue I see with this close reason is that sometimes people have multiple literal question marks in a question, and this will get jumped on by some closers as a reason to close it.

But there's a big difference between: "Why are bananas yellow? Does the color have anything to do with the soil?" and "Why are bananas yellow? What's the best environment to plant them in?"

I can tell you some people would absolutely close both questions for "asking multiple questions" even though the first example is really just the asker trying to clarify their thought process in asking. It is still ultimately one topic: why are bananas yellow. The second is two completely different topics: (1) banana color source and (2) what environments banana trees thrive in. It makes no sense to have the first asker split up his question into two questions. That would actually be really annoying. Conversely, we want the second asker to split up his, as they are two completely different topics.

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    "Topics" is very vague. Both the question about color and environment fall under the topic of "bananas." It would be easier to edit the first to ask only one question: "Why are bananas yellow? I suspect it has something to do with the soil." Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 14:26
  • @StephenOstermiller I agree with that, but the current wording invites people to VTC. That's easier than editing, even though the intent of the asker is clear, and really is only one question. Removing the second question mark didn't really change anything, except to make it better obey "the letter of the law". I'd like to make the intent of the law clearer, so we can enforce that moreso than the letter of it.
    – JamieB
    Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 16:06
  • 2
    I feel like every single one of these close reasons should have a link to a meta page that gives a lot more detail and lays out examples. I get where you are coming from, but "different questions" is the best way to summarize it in a few words that I've seen. To me "different questions" isn't an invitation to count the question marks. A link to a fuller explanation would allow for more clarity in the subjective gray areas and places that are open to various interpretations. Commented Apr 14, 2023 at 16:19
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    @StephenOstermiller To you, it isn’t. To unscrupulous bandwagon voters, it is. Commented Apr 15, 2023 at 16:01
  • There should not be multiple question marks. That's just bad organization & phrasing. Moreover it is very highly correlated with other unclear writing. Your examples should both be closed. We can't read the asker's mind. Maybe they mean "I suspect it has something to do with the soil." Which is noise that shouldn't be there. But maybe they have a question about the connection of colour or maybe yellow specifically and soil specifically. Which they have not clearly expressed. Apparently likely they do, because they kept using question marks.
    – philipxy
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 15:34
  • @philipxy My view is that the general purpose of a site like this is to be a reservoir of Q&A that can ideally be useful to the general public. Closing a question serves no one, and so should be reserved for questions that actually damage the site. The close reason explanations must explain how this question would damage the value of that particular Stack if not closed. I find it's more useful to make some assumptions and deliver a generally useful answer than to needle the rulebook and find an excuse to close a question. We just need better definitions for the intent of those close reasons.
    – JamieB
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 15:59
  • I don't know what is the point of your comment, since I just said the post is not clear & should be closed.
    – philipxy
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 16:12
  • @philipxy Which I obviously disagree with. Thus the problem: the intent of the rules is not clear, which is why you and I have different opinions on their meaning. That is the whole point of this particular meta discussion and problem. We can't agree on what's acceptable because the wording of the rules leaves too much up in the air.
    – JamieB
    Commented Apr 19, 2023 at 17:32
-2

Duplicate messaging need to handle the case where no dupe target exists

Many questions are closed as a duplicate but have no dupe target so the close message shows like

This question already has an answer here:

with no actual question or answer listed

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    This should be a bug. It's not possible to close a question as duplicate without supplying the duplicate.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Apr 9, 2023 at 7:27
  • 2
    Where have you seen this? I have never seen it. Could you post a link to a question with a message like this? Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 16:39
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    @VLAZ FYI, the OP may be referring to the issue that, originally, the duplicate close message, and duplicate target link, was actually embedded in the question text itself. Thus, a later edit could change this, such as removing the link to the duplicate question. However, AFAIK, this problem occurred fairly rarely, so I would not classify it as being "many questions", and the SE staff are not going to do anything about it at this time. Commented Apr 10, 2023 at 16:39
  • @VLAZ don't forget - mods are exempt from that rule (plus cases where it's an exact duplicate and both questions were asked by the same user). That being said, I think we actually already remove the indication that the other question is answered when it's not.
    – Catija
    Commented Apr 13, 2023 at 5:36
  • 1
    I think this may refer to really old questions from before the current close process existed (which was before my time, so I am speculating a bit here).
    – tripleee
    Commented Apr 23, 2023 at 9:24
-5

Needs details or clarity

Change to

Not meet our quality standard.

Source: Why do I see a message that my question does not meet quality standards?

Rationale:

Not because the OP is smart enough to bypass the algorithm, it means that the question meets our quality standard. Computer Science and Technology people still has a lot of work to do to make computers able to evaluate in an efficient and effective way the quality of questions written by humans.

Field Current Proposed
Modal Title Needs details or clarity Quality standard
Modal Description This question should include more details and clarify the problem. This question doesn't meet our quality standard. It should be edited to include the missing information and clarify the problem.
General notice **Closed**. This question needs [details or clarity]($ClosedQuestionsUrl$). It is not currently accepting answers. **Closed**. This question needs to be improved to meet [our quality standard]($ClosedQuestionsUrl$). It is not currently accepting answers.
Post owner guidance Add details and clarify the problem you’re solving. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) or [post a new one]($AskQuestionUrl$). Review your question to make sure that it has the following:<br><ul><li>A clear title.</li><li>A reasonable explanation of what your question is. Add as much detail as you can.</li><li>Any background research you've tried but wasn't enough to solve your problem.</li><li>Correct use of English spelling and grammar to the best of your ability</li></ul>. [Edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$) to make it meet our quality standard. This will help others understand your issue and provide a better answer. If edited, your question will be reviewed and might be reopened.
Guidance to others Add details and clarify the problem being solved. This will help others answer the question. You can [edit the question]($EditQuestionUrl$). As written and according to our quality standard, this question is lacking some of the information it needs to be answered. If the author adds details in comments, consider [editing them into the question]($EditQuestionUrl$). Once there's sufficient detail to answer accourding to our quality standard, vote to reopen the question.

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