Recently, I've seen several questions in the close queue that simply ask for a script to be written to perform or automate a particular task. These questions are currently closed as too broad with comments that say that "we're not a script-writing service". I think it might be a good idea to add a new close reason for this.

Stack Overflow has this close reason as one of the off-topic options:

Questions seeking debugging help ("why isn't this code working?") must include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question itself. Questions without a clear problem statement are not useful to other readers. See: How to create a Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable example.

I suppose it would be a good idea to compose a new off-topic close reason because this is a fairly common close reason.

3 Answers 3


I'm not sure we should be closing these questions outright, much less have a specific close reason for them.

At the end of the day, people are unhappy about how they are phrased. These questions can be trivially rewritten from "Give me a script to X" to "How can I do (automate) X", and answers can choose to write scripts if they wish to do so, or provide alternative answers.

Where possible, prefer editing questions to make them more suitable over closing them.

We could "put on hold" and ask the user to edit, but... hey, why not lead by example? If a user ignores the hint and continues to phrase questions badly, then further action can be taken.

  • +1 for "lead by example" part. When possible, we should be editing to improve questions, but there are times when we just need to close some questions that make no effort what so ever (IMO) Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 0:20
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    @CanadianLuke That would have to be considered on a case-by-case basis - unfortunately, once you add a standard close reason, it tends to be applied very broadly, often well beyond the originally intended scope.
    – Bob
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 0:22
  • "How do I automate X?" has the same problem, it's broad and shows no effort. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 21:00
  • @Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 In which case, it should be downvoted or closed as such. My point is there is no need to have a close reason specifically for questions that ask for a script, since they are effectively a different way of phrasing another type of question - the individual question obviously must be judged on its own merit. Additionally, the suggested change was just an example of how to rephrase the question - obviously the question itself would be expected to have further detail!
    – Bob
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:12
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    As a somewhat off-topic side note: I've mentioned before, my opinion is that "showing effort", which is often translated to "this question is too basic" or "have you tried searching", is also a poor close reason - we should be trying to build up a good library of Q&A, even for basic questions as long as they are reasonably scoped. Heck, those comments are often followed by others who mention they arrived at that very page via a search engine.
    – Bob
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 22:16
  • That said - that applies more to the theory/conceptual questions. I would expect troubleshooting-style questions to have far more detail, including attempts, much like the SO example in this meta question.
    – Bob
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 23:44
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    "Where possible, prefer editing questions to make them more suitable over closing them" is all very well, but if the question is like the example linked in Dave's answer (synopsis "I need to make a spreadsheet about matchmaking. I made a mock picture of how it should work. How do I do Table B" then I can't think of any edit to improve it. It has to come from the OP. I commented "... please show us what you've tried so far (including any code you currently have) and where you're stuck so that we can help you with your specific problem....". That's about the best we can be expected to do.
    – DavidPostill Mod
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 18:18

Since we can only have 3 close reasons, if we implement a new reason, we need to get rid of one.

enter image description here

I'd suggest combining the second and third reasons - Shopping (software or hardware), service or learning material recommendations. This would free up a spot for a new reason.

The next step, assuming the community agrees, is to come up with the proper wording to help those people posting "give me tha codez" questions to improve their questions - or learn how to write the code themselves. So let's use this Meta question to see if the community actually SUPPORTS having that new close reason, then move on from there.

  • 1
    "learn how to write the code themselves" is appropriate for SO, but not for SU. If it does come to a standard close reason, the wording would have to be very precise, considering how vague the line can be between a 'good' and 'bad' question. Rec questions are much more obvious, and more rarely useful.
    – Bob
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 0:20
  • I didn't realize that they allowed that on SO... I just re-read the Help Center, and you're right! Thanks for that Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 0:23
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    there's a reason hardware & software recs were split up
    – Sathyajith Bhat Mod
    Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 4:01
  • @Sathya didn't know that Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 4:11
  • Looks like we could have more than three reasons too Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 10:00
  • @Ray the last two are built in. The first three are one the community and mods have the ability to change Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 15:35
  • @CanadianLuke ah, I thought he was saying SO had 5 user-picked ones, aside from the standard ones. I can't vote to close on SO, I don't think. Commented Jan 15, 2015 at 16:06
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    @Sathya: The two shopping reasons could be combined by essentially concatenating the two explanations.
    – fixer1234
    Commented Jul 23, 2015 at 18:07
  • slhck♦ says "We can get more slots if needed. Stack Overflow has five, for example." Commented Jul 30, 2015 at 20:32

I came here to ask the same question. Whilst writing the question on Meta, it made me think more about it...

I honestly think the answer has to be do want you feel is right, for a few reasons:

This question is exactly as you describe (I think) https://superuser.com/questions/944270/matching-strings-on-google-spreadsheet which translates to "write a script for me" (based upon what is currently written).

I can understand why/how these questions are useful to others but at the same time, if we answer them, we promote no research effort... which is a bad thing... but then how do you research something which is so bespoke?

This means then, if some one says "write me a script" then it's too broad surely?

How many ways can you write a script to solve one issue? Here is an
example I've been part of...

Whilst it clearly annoys many SU users that people just ask for Excel VBa Scripts/Powershell Scripts/Other code because they're too lazy to either research or not informed well enough to show their research, it would mean every question is too broad and would need closing. Obviously this wouldn't work.

The only thing which will work is your (the community's) judgement on the day. Common sense will help to decide if the question is too broad.

If I feel that no research is done and the OP is lazy/useless, then I guess that is what down votes are for (although I will vote too broad or the general off topic).

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