When flagging a post for being off-topic, the following options are given:

  • Questions that can be answered using commonly-available references are off-topic. A list of these references can be found here: List of general references
  • Questions on choosing an ideal word or phrase must include information on how it will be used in order to be answered. For help writing a good word or phrase request, see: About single word requests
  • Proofreading questions are off-topic unless a specific source of concern in the text is clearly identified.
  • This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network

What about the other cases that are mentioned in the FAQ On-topic/Off-topic List? The Off-topic List contains the following categories that it is not currently possible to flag for:

  • Naming, including programming
  • Literary criticism, discussion, and analysis
  • Writing advice
  • Translation/non-English languages
  • Jokes that do not rely on the English language

Personally, I have not (in the six or so weeks I have been an active contributor) come across any questions that deal with the latter two; but the former two especially are quite frequent. I always want to flag these questions, but find that I cannot, except through the hack of “it needs ♦ moderator attention”, writing the actual reason in a comment box. This seems rather inferior to me.

Without knowing how the moderating system works, I would imagine that the whole point of having such a fine-grained flagging system is that it enables significant automatisation of moderation processes in the ‘already defined option’ cases, whereas the “it needs ♦ moderator attention” cases by definition require more attention and work.

So would it not make good sense to be able to flag questions as off-topic for all the reasons mentioned in the off-topic list, rather than just a (seemingly random?) extract of them?

  • When you get to actually close-vote, there is a wildcard Off Topic close option where you can fill in the missing reason. This keeps the dialogue box reasonably short, whereas adding those other five off-topic options would not.
    – tchrist Mod
    Aug 25, 2013 at 19:54
  • 1
    At what point does one reach the stage of being able to actually close-vote? And does this mean that users who have not yet reached that stage are discouraged from flagging questions as off-topic if they are not within the options available in the dialogue box? Aug 25, 2013 at 19:58
  • See here for an explanation of the various privileges.
    – terdon
    Aug 26, 2013 at 0:35
  • There's no harm in flagging. If it's a valid flag it will add to your "helpful flag" count, even if the question is closed before a mod gets to your flag [At least, that's my experience]. All members of the community are encouraged to participate as much as their rep allows; and if that means you flag instead of directly vote to close, then do that.
    – Andrew Leach Mod
    Aug 26, 2013 at 20:10
  • I frequently flagged both Qs & As (100+) before I had enough rep to close vote - and all but 8 flags were "deemed helpful". I still flag answer sometimes, but for Q's I either propose closure or add my votes to an existing proposal, if I agree.
    – TrevorD
    Aug 28, 2013 at 13:45


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