I haven't kept track, but we've only had the new close vote reasons for - I dunno - about a month?

And today they've changed again, completely changing off-topic reasons with no explanation, no guidance on how the reasons are supposed to be used, nothing.

This isn't what I'd call "engaging the community," it's more like a big FOAD to the people who try to clean up some of the lousy content.

Is there somewhere that explains the latest changes?

2 Answers 2


First, SE didn't make the changes, the Moderators did.

Second, as Falcon mentioned they're "cleaned up" versions of what the community thought were the most needed close reasons. We had to fit a certain format.

I'm sorry you apparently missed that we were taking suggestions for the last month for the new close reasons: New close reasons - Proposals (July 2013) It was not our intention to make this a sudden or thoughtless process.

It was clear from the first day that we would be changing the wording of the close reasons, and possibly adding more (though I've seen no clear argument for adding any).

If you have a specific objection with one of the close reasons please make a reasonable argument. Right now your post smacks of "Who moved my cheese?" We'd be glad to consider any suggestions you have to address specific shortcomings in the close reasons.

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    I remember finding "Who moved my cheese" atrocious. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:25
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    I suffered through books, videos, and training seminars on "Who moved my cheese", I still don't like it, but it's a fun reference anyway.
    – Chris S
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:26
  • If SE is allowing on-the-fly changes to something fairly significant like close reasons, they should ensure that the changes are communicated to the community - I don't see it as your (mods) job. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:29
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    It's been on the Community Bulleting (right side of every "normal" page on Server Fault) for a whole month. How much more communication do you want?
    – Chris S
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:31
  • And the linked post is totally inadequate as far as communicating the change: you have to wade through the whole thing and decipher it - there's no summary that says "here are the new off-topic reasons, here's what they mean, here's the type of question they'd be appropriate for." Again, I see this as SE's job, not the mods. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:32
  • Sure, great, there's a link to "New close reasons - proposals" Doesn't matter how long it's been there, it's not a useful resource for understanding the new reasons. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:33
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    @Ward The specific instructions we (mods) get re: the custom close reasons are With great power comes great responsibility. Use sparingly and only in consultation with the community. - Hence the "New Close Reasons - Proposals" discussion (I do plan to write up some guidance for the new reasons and tack it onto that post as the accepted answer along with the rationale behind the cleanups/refitting -- hopefully tomorrow unless someone gets to it before I do)
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:33

I believe the new reasons were inspired by the top 3 proposals from New close reasons - Proposals (July 2013), with the first two amalgamated.

  • But the first new off-topic reason "Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. ..." doesn't make sense - it can apply to a 100% perfectly on-topic question and it's largely a duplicate of "unclear what you're asking" Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:05
  • Yes, I am not saying they are any good. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:18
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    I'm not sure how you could equate demonstrating a "minimal understanding of the problem" with a question that "doesn't make sense". Could you explain that?
    – Chris S
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:22
  • It doesn't, but they are likely to coincide. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:24
  • Sorry, I'm limited by rushing, and by the formatting and length limits of comments. It doesn't make sense to call that an "Off-Topic" close reason because the topicality is orthogonal to whether the person understands what they're doing/asking. It also doesn't make sense to have an off-topic close reason that is essentially the same as another close reason. Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:38
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    I envision the "minimal understanding" close reason as really a better fit for "You're not the sysadmin" sort of situations (end users/home users seeking Level 1 Support), where "Unclear what you're asking" is for someone who is at (least supposed to be) a sysadmin but just wrote an awful question. -- Of course that leaves it overlapping with the "relevant to professional system administration" close reason to some extent. It's entirely possible (in fact probable) that these reasons will change again.
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:39
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    Change again? gahh. I think I'm just gonna stick with deleting the off-topic comment down to "This question appears to be off-topic" Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:41
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    @Ward I definitely agree about calling some of these "off topic" close reasons being dumb - unfortunately the custom close reasons are all in the "off topic" bucket (I blame developers). Ideally we'd be able to add top-level close reasons, but that would break the 5-items-in-a-list rule
    – voretaq7
    Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 4:42
  • @ward SE wouldn't let us use "too stupid to live" as a close reason; that's the best we could do. If you have a better idea, I'm all ears... Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 6:33
  • It's not that I have better ideas in mind, but putting dramatically different close reasons in place without giving at least some guidelines on how they're intended to be used is a mistake. Not everyone who votes to close participated in the discussion of the new reasons (I didn't, obviously), so it would be nice to have something that explains the changes. It seems like a perfect task for... I dunno, maybe a Community Coordinator? Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 6:42
  • Aarthi is no longer with us. We're on our own ... Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 6:50
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    What about the new ones who popped in? Grace Note and the other guy? Or were they trying to create a new oxymoron - "We're from SE and we're here to help?" Commented Jul 26, 2013 at 7:03

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