It seems there are relevant changes coming soon to how posts are closed: Closing changes: on hold, unclear, too broad, opinion-based, off-topic reasons, bye-bye to Too Localized (MetaStackOverFlow).


  • How these changes could change our own set of custom 'off topic' reasons for the EL&U stack?

  • Will we have nostalgia from the lack of the TL reason?

  • Are these changes capable to generate an increase in the number of closed questions?

  • 1
    The function of TL will be replaced by site specific reasons on 'off-topic' How that list is made I'd like to know though. I think the 'Unc;ear what you're asking' reason would result in -lots more- 'on holds'
    – Mitch
    Jun 17, 2013 at 22:29
  • Is the objective to increase the number of closed questions? I thought it was to reduce them?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 18, 2013 at 12:43
  • @Mari-Lou, it is difficult to talk about closed questions in abstract sense, however their reduction, occurred after the cerberus' invective, did not do so well at EL&U, which has been flooded with trivial questions even if ELL is now opened and in use.
    – user19148
    Jun 18, 2013 at 13:06
  • I once suggested that new members had to check a box explaining they had read and understood the rules. It's not a bullet-proof deterrent, but at least they would know the existence of the FAQs and read the guidelines (or maybe not...) for making and answering a question. Sometimes, however, the seemingly trivial questions can provide wonderful insights on how a language functions. Trivial isn't always bad.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 18, 2013 at 13:23

1 Answer 1


So, we'll still have Duplicate and Off Topic, but pretty soon our four other closevote reasons...

Not Constructive
Not A Real Question
Too Localised
General Reference

...will be replaced by three new alternatives...

Unclear What You're Asking
Too Broad
Primarily Opinion-based

I think ELU might have a bit of a problem there. I've just realised our current FAQ doesn't actually define GR - but I thought it used to, and don't recall any debate here on meta about removing it.

ELU gets a lot of really basic questions from non-native speakers, many of which are closed as GR. Presumably we'll need to change the FAQ to justify saying they're OT instead now. I'm assuming we can't just say they should go to ELL without saying why they can't stay here, and I'm not sure it's possible on SO to closevote as Belongs on XXX while XXX is still in Beta.

Anyway, it looks like TPTB don't endorse whatever we thought General Reference stood for, so we either have to bite the bullet and allow questions like the meaning โ€œoffโ€ (sic), or we need to decide whether the site really is for linguists, etymologists, and (serious) English language enthusiasts.

Personally, I think we should include under Off Topic a sub-category called something like Common knowledge among Anglophones (effectively, the old General Reference).

I don't really have an opinion on the demise of Too Localised - most times when I've closevoted for that reason, I've been overruled (or not supported) anyway.

  • 2
    We can define some custom Off Topic reasons, and create GR again. On that Meta page, it says "[The Off Topic list] is also the place to address any closing reason that applies to one site but not others (for instance, the "General Reference" close reason on English Language and Usage is moving here)." I'm trying to find more information on that.
    – user10893
    Jun 18, 2013 at 8:06
  • 1
    @simchona: Well, am I right in thinking somebody removed the previous reference to GR in our FAQ? I thought it said something along the lines of "can be satisfied by a single link to a standard online resource", but I don't really recall. And it still seems to me that as a general principle TPTB don't really want GR to be used as a reason for closevoting on SO, even if ELU can make a special case for our requirement. Jun 18, 2013 at 14:34
  • 2
    What I suspect is that when the changed the "about" page, there was a trickle down into the FAQ. The other SE sites don't have GR, that's true, but it's an accepted way of life for ELU. I'll look into editing the FAQ.
    – user10893
    Jun 18, 2013 at 19:28
  • If there are per-site sub-reasons for off-topic, then plain off-topic will no longer be avaialble (only the predefined sub-reasons or the free-form comment). This wasn't clear in the original announcement. Jun 20, 2013 at 12:58
  • One of the pre-defined sub-reasons can be "Off topic", surely?
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Jun 20, 2013 at 15:07
  • If you're looking for the new GR, it's under off topic now.
    – user10893
    Jun 27, 2013 at 8:50
  • If you want to migrate general reference questions to ELL, you've totally misunderstood either "general reference" or the purpose of ELL.
    – Marthaª
    Jun 27, 2013 at 14:15
  • @Martha: Again with the lectures. You have your preconceptions about what GR means, and the purpose of ELL. If they're not the same as mine it's not because I "misunderstand" your "truth". It's because we disagree. Jun 27, 2013 at 15:25
  • @FumbleFingers: but I'm always right! Didn't you get the memo?
    – Marthaª
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:59
  • @Martha: Dang! I keep forgetting that! :) Jun 27, 2013 at 18:05
  • ...seriously, although I expect we do actually disagree on the scope of GR (for both ELL and ELU), surely even you would accept that some questions that get asked on ELU are simply too basic, and ought to be on ELL. Jun 27, 2013 at 18:13
  • 3
    Oh, I do dearly wish for a "migrate to ELL" button, but it's not so much because the questions are basic, but more because it's clear they're asking because they're learning English.
    – Marthaª
    Jun 27, 2013 at 18:38
  • @Martha: I expect we'll get one when ELL comes out of beta. But for now I think we still need to firm up on exactly where we should be drawing the line (a tricky issue, which was one reason ELL took so long to get off the ground). Jun 27, 2013 at 18:42

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