So I recently gained the vote-to-close privilege, but I'm often not sure what the most appropriate close reason is. NARQ and Not Constructive seem very similar, and I see a lot of questions being closed as Off Topic but which I would categorise otherwise.

Off Topic implies to me that it's a valid question and would be appropriate on another SE site (which may not exist yet). Since shopping is not appropriate on any SE site whatsoever, it's not just off topic (I would probably go with Not Constructive), but I see shopping questions being closed as Off Topic. (For example, this question.) It seems to me that Off Topic is used when a question is off topic and a crap question which shouldn't be migrated, whereas I would say that Off Topic should only be used if there doesn't currently exist an appropriate SE site for the topic.

Also, what is the distinction between NARQ and Not Constructive? I would close this question as NARQ because it fits into "overly broad", and this question as Not Constructive because it "solicits opinion", but the former has two votes for Off Topic and the latter was closed as NARQ.

5 Answers 5


I use NARQ whenever I see a question that falls into "overly broad".

I need to figure out what kind of server I need for an office of ten architects.

I tend to trot out NC for questions that are prominently subjective; such as those that involve the word 'best' in them, since 'best' is very subjective.

What is the best software configuration for an ArcGIS server supporting 10 architects?

What separates these two is that the first example is not answerable in the general case, though could be answerable if enough of the right information were given (though 'enough' is unlikely without making a solid wall of text). It is therefore too broad, and gets a NARQ.

The second example has no one right answer, and several may be equally right. Sometimes there actually IS a universal software config for a problem and this question is specifically answerable, but those are rare, rare things. It is therefore subjective and earns an NC vote.

Like Chris, I'll use NARQ for gibbering lunacy

For shopping questions, they'll earn a roughly even mix of NARQ and NC votes, but I'll hammer those OT because we have a specific exemption in the FAQ for those specific questions and we need to note that.


We've complained before about the similarity of the close reasons. It's pretty much craps, whatever you feel like voting for. The fine line, NARQ is when you can't actually figure out what the question is or should be; NC is a Question with no "Answer" (overly broad, discussion, etc). OT can be either "appropriate for another site" or "questions we don't allow per the faq (explicitly in the faq)".


The closing reasons aren't all they can be, that's for sure and (within certain obvious limits, of course!) there's not always a hard and fast "right and wrong" for how you use them. As long as you try and stay within what guidelines we have and try and make the best you can out of the reasons then its all good.

My thoughts

Off Topic = "Off topic for this site". If a question is off topic then it can be migrated if possible, or just closed as off topic. Shopping questions are OT even though they aren't migrated.

NARQ - Makes no sense, overly broad, or "straw man" questions that are being asked to solicit a particular asker so someone can point at it later and say "look, they agree with me!" rather than a genuine search for knowledge.

NC - unanswerable - either due to lack of info or belligerence (knowingly asking a question that's aggressively skirting the limits of what's acceptable) on the part of the person asking the question.


As others have said, just pick the reason that seems the best to you, it'll work out in the long run.

However, there was a question yesterday where I cast the last close vote and mine made it a tie - two reasons had two votes each. The result was that the reason I picked was the "official" close reason, so in that case my particular vote made a tiny bit more difference.

Exact Dup is quite clear.

Too Localized doesn't seem to come up too often here, or at least I haven't seen it very much. It's also pretty clear.

Off-topic can be a question that might be good but the FAQ says is OT. I very rarely vote to migrate - only if it seems to be a pretty good question and only if it's clearly on-topic for the target. This includes most home/personal use questions.

Not Constructive used to be called "Subjective and Argumentative" and to me the description "likely to solicit opinion, debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion" is the key.

Not a Real Question includes un-intelligible questions and overly broad ones.


In the scheme of things question which aren't a good fit for SF get closed for mostly the correct reason and very few people will care if some are incorrect.

Just vote as you see fit, others will do the same.

The former was closed OT 5/0. My OT vote was because it's a developer asking about their own windows 7 install so to me they fall outside the scope of SF.

  • +1 for "Just vote as you see fit, others will do the same". It's actually a little uncommon to see 5 close votes for the same reason on a single question, so clearly we all have our own voting preferences. Commented May 27, 2012 at 6:54

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