It would be useful to have some examples of questions that should and shouldn't be closed for specific reasons, with detailed explainations why.

It could reduce the number of invalid flags and make life a bit easier for users new to reviewing. Getting used to the new close reasons could be smoother too.

It's not always obvious if a close reason is applicable to a question or not, descriptions are sometimes too short to resolve doubts. Some questions are balancing on the edge of being valid for SU. Sometimes I can see questions being almost closed (4 close votes) despite being perfectly fine in my opinion. I guess sometimes I'm the one who casts the invalid close vote, too.

I know there are many questions regarding closing here on MSU, but that's the thing - there's too many of them (see close-reasons tag). Having all useful tips gathered in one place and backed with examples would be really nice. It could be even better if such guide is linked in the closing pop-up.

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    If in doubt, don't close? 'Off topic' and 'duplicate' have been covered in great detail on MSU in the past. 'not a real question', 'not constructive', and 'too localized' have been removed and 'unclear', 'too broad', and 'opinion-based' added -- so everything about the former is obsolete, while the latter are probably too new for a lot of specific issues to have come up. Are you asking about something in particular?
    – Daniel Beck Mod
    Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 11:33
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    When you are in review, if you are confused about what's going on, you can always click to go to the thread and see what comments have been made, edits by the asker, that type of thing. Or you can skip it. I think that the "cause" of the meat of your question here, is that some users may vote to close without a comment to the question or an explanation in the close vote. I sometimes see questions closed that aren't painfully obvious why, but there's barely a comment by anyone to the asker explaining why. Commented Jul 29, 2013 at 13:40

2 Answers 2


This was too long to be a comment.

The guidelines are the descriptions of the close reasons. Whatever the community closes basically constitutes the ground truth of what we deem on-topic and what not.

These processes sometimes even change naturally, without us having to update the FAQ.

We couldn't possibly give examples that cover all cases. The sole reason that there are so many Meta posts about specific questions being closed is that we can't possibly explain everything—besides, who would read it?—and some cases just have to be discussed individually to hear different standpoints.

Sometimes I can see questions being almost closed (4 close votes) despite being perfectly fine in my opinion

Just vote to leave open. Not every question is clearly on- or off-topic, and that's fine. Use your fair judgement here, and if you think a closure wasn't warranted, you can try to improve the post, vote to reopen, or come here to Meta.

Don't forget, a user needs 3k reputation to be able to vote to close. By then they will have seen what usually gets closed and what is fine to stay. If a user has troubles understanding what to close, they'd probably need to lurk a little more.

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    Agreed. Even if we had lots of examples, everyone will find themselves at odds with the community consensus from time to time.
    – Tim Post
    Commented Jul 31, 2013 at 9:18

Closing is an action that is often justified by a somewhat subjective perspective, active users will occasionally find themselves at odds with a consensus that the community forms. This is normal and healthy, if we don't examine our decisions from time to time we'll begin to rot.

That said, the close reasons should be clear enough that the need for additional examples or guidance should be rare. If they're not, then they need to be reexamined and adjusted to be less ambiguous. Too Localized is a perfect example where both the question and the reason for closing it were of debatable intent. We fixed that, at least we hope we did.

A rule that I try to follow is when in doubt, don't, and I try very hard to not spend too much time on decisions I know that I'm simply not going to reach completely confidently. However I will say this, if you feel that a question is right on the edge, then it should in theory be able to be made into a good question for the site with a little bit of editing. Something that can't be fixed even with a Herculean editing effort should lend a bit more to your confidence in putting it on hold or voting for deletion.

Otherwise, as slhck notes, just skip it. If you find yourself skipping a lot of others like it, raising a discussion on meta to determine what if anything should be done with that type of question is probably the most constructive thing you can do.

Beyond the guidance in the help center and meta FAQ tag collection, I don't think there's much else we could produce that would really help to teach this stuff. Sometimes, you just know it when you see it, and that's very difficult to articulate.

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