I just used the "Questions about bugs in pre-release/beta software or prototype hardware are off-topic" close reason to vote to close a question. I was looking for somewhere in the Help Center where it explains that questions about bugs in pre-release software are off-topic to point the user to, however I could not find any such language in the What topics can I ask about here? or What types of questions should I avoid asking? topics.

Is this close reason explained somewhere else? If not, should it not be added to the Help Center?

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    You're missing a nuance: questions about bugs in pre-release software are off-topic, but not all questions about pre-release software. For instance, you could ask, "How can I shut down Windows 8 Preview from the desktop?" but not "How do I prevent Windows 8 Preview from throwing a BSOD when I plug in my printer?" Dec 5, 2013 at 21:45

1 Answer 1


I'm the one who originally proposed to have that close reason. When they re-did the close votes process, the SU site mods asked the userbase what close vote reasons we should pick for SuperUser that are specific to our site. See here.

It got upvoted, so they included it in the list.

Presumably, the SU site mods have the ability to directly edit the "malleable", site-specific close vote reasons, or to get a developer to edit them. They are basically "canned text"; the alternative would be for each person who wants to close a question for one of these site-specific reasons to have to type out an explanation after clicking "Other" as the close vote reason under Off-Topic.

Basically it's a convenience for having to type out a long explanation in the reason for the off-topicness. It's a fairly specific case and probably doesn't deserve mention in the help center, because people are bound to misinterpret it, much as you did when you wrote your question ("that questions about pre-release software are off-topic" -- this is not the case).

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    IMO it's about time we re-evaluate the current close reasons and see if there are alternatives that might be used more often. We're a little limited in space there.
    – slhck
    Dec 5, 2013 at 22:01
  • Ok, yes I do understand we're talking specifically about bugs in pre-release software, but if its not outlined in the help center aren't we missing out on one level of filtering that could keep off-topic question from ever being asked? How will a new user know that that this type of questions are off-topic?
    – heavyd
    Dec 5, 2013 at 22:03
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    @heavyd The problem is, there are more off-topic topics than we can reasonably list anywhere; and even if we did list all of them, nobody would ever read such a long list. If we listed bugs in prerelease software, we'd also have to list a ton of other things that are specific like that. That close vote reason is there because it's a frequently encountered off-topic question type, but those questions are also covered equally well by, say, a restriction on highly time-sensitive questions (a question about a bug in Windows 8 Preview is already obsolete right now, for instance). Dec 5, 2013 at 22:10
  • Also, we want to keep things fluid, because sometimes there are really good questions that pop up which technically violate the word of the topicality restrictions (at least in principle), but the question is popular or good enough (or has GREAT answers) that we don't want to close it. We don't want the topicality rules for the site to become as strict as US law. You see what happens when we start being literal about the rules in the US, right? The US Federal Uniform Code, printed in its entirety, would fill an entire filing cabinet with dozens of 1000 page books. Dec 5, 2013 at 22:12
  • Similarly, if we were to list every possible subject in computing that is off-topic for SuperUser, we could fill almost as much space. And then there would be words or phrases in that list which could disqualify a very large number of good questions if interpreted literally. Basically, topicality is a subjective thing, as strange as that seems. It can be used as a reason for close a bad question, but we often choose to allow great questions with great answers even if they skirt along the border of topicality. Dec 5, 2013 at 22:14
  • Just seems to me like if it a frequent enough problem that it warrants its own close reason, it would make sense to also make it clear in the site documentation. Now if, as slhck mentioned, it to be removed from the close reason list, then I understand not spelling it out.
    – heavyd
    Dec 5, 2013 at 22:14
  • I'm not saying list everything that is off-topic, just give the same close reasons to new users that you give to mods.
    – heavyd
    Dec 5, 2013 at 22:15
  • @heavyd That sounds like something that could be automatically populated into the Help Center for every single site. Consider asking this question on meta.stackoverflow about the SE platform itself, rather than about SU specifically. Sure, we could edit SU's specific help center just for this one thing, but we could also get them to add code to the help center that propagates all the custom site-specific close vote reasons to the help center under the topicality question. I wouldn't be opposed to that. Dec 5, 2013 at 22:19
  • The language would need to mention that it's a non-exhaustive list, though. Otherwise, people would complain that the thing they asked was closed as off-topic even though it fully meets the letter of what was stated as topical in the help center. If we say it's non-exhaustive, that leaves open the possibility for us to close almost anything that the community decides is not topical, which preserves the subjectivity aspect of topicality. Dec 5, 2013 at 22:20
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    I would also add that even if pre-release software is removed from the site-specific close vote reason list, then something else would be added to replace it -- and then you'd be asking this question about that thing, instead. So your overall point is valid. This is a much more general feature request than the point regarding the one specific close vote reason on SU. Dec 5, 2013 at 22:21

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