A question of mine was recently closed as 'off topic'.

There was no message left explaining the reason, and it is not as obvious to me as it apparently was to those closing it.

I initially posted this question on SO, then realized it was the wrong place to ask and deleted my question to re-post it on Programmers, as I was sure this place was fitting. Even more surprising came the quick close.

It should be obvious to anyone thinking about the question for a second that this is related to programming. The all people - all careers - all programmers - only me point also does not apply here. The question is not too localized, too. I was left in confusion.

That's why I would love to see a comment explaining the reason to close. I do consider it pretty rude to simply close the question without any remark and leave me standing as an idiot. This has actually been discussed a LOT on meta.so and the consensus was to have the mods close as they believe is fit (which is very good and I'm perfectly fine with that) and add a quick message explaining the reason (which was not the case here).

In this case (and more than enough other cases I experienced) a politely helpful (and as per the meta discussion, "suggested to exist") comment regarding close reason was not given. Please make adding a comment on closing questions a requirement. It is not as blatantly obvious to others as to you.

This carries additional weight on this site because apparently a lot of questions get closed, and I'm sure everyone gets bored of the often ensuing discussions on meta.

(I'm going to tag this 'discussion' because I also asked about a specific question, though feature-request might be more fitting? I'm not sure, please feel free to re-tag.)

  • On second thought, I'm going to investigate and possibly add a feature request on meta.so, so this thread can concentrate on the single post mentioned.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 13:43

3 Answers 3


In this particular case it could be that the close reason was wrong. Rather than being "off topic" it's probably "not constructive". Given that, adding more information to the close will create more discussion over why a question was closed.

As moderators cast a binding vote and whatever they choose is displayed as the close reason I tend to follow what's already been suggested as the close reason (unless it's clearly wrong). This case was borderline so I stuck with the existing votes.

As to why I now think it's not constructive - ultimately it doesn't really matter as long as you pick one abbreviation and stick to it, plus unless you are really lucky all you are going to get is people posting what they use and people voting for their favourite. Neither of which really answer the question.

  • Regarding the abbreviation thing: I was asking because I'm trying to write code according to the standards being followed by most people. It is of course a detail, but still important. If there is a consensus about this case, then I would like to know about it and apply it - there should not be anything wrong with that.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:38
  • What you said about posting what they use and voting for their favorite, that is an issue with the answers. I can try and edit the question to make this more clear. Edit: which I did.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:39
  • @mafutrct - personally I wouldn't bother with abbreviations. They were necessary in days of yore when file names were limited to 8.3 characters and variable names could be at most 6 characters long (or whatever). With newer compilers and operating systems these restrictions just don't apply.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:42
  • With that I don't agree at all. In code, it does make a vast difference if you type 'server' or 'srv', especially if you use some kind of (systems) Hungarian notation.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:44
  • if you type server then you know what it is. no need for notation.
    – Matt Ellen
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:49
  • @MattEllen: That awfully sounds like Torvald's ThisVariableIsATemporaryCounter though. For Hungarian, I'd rather consider 'c' and 's' than 'client' and 'server'. I thought cli and srv/svr are a reasonable tradeoff, and I'm certain very common.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:57
  • @mafutrct: I prefer things that say what they are over having to know someone else's lexicon of abbreviations. I guess it's just personl preference.
    – Matt Ellen
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:59
  • One could make the case that all of the 'questions' tagged terminology are subjective and violate one or more of the constructive subjective question rules. As to the original question, I agree with Chris, pick one and stick to it and consider using longer more descriptive names.
    – dbasnett
    Jul 5, 2011 at 15:33
  • I wouldn't be so quick to call a spelling question "not constructive". Last time they did that, we ended up with the referer [sic] HTTP header. It might not be as likely that the situation would be as bad with srv/svr, but it's not ridiculous to believe that the distinction has special meaning, or that someone has already decided with good reason that it should be one way or the other and that the world be consistent around them. Aug 4, 2011 at 22:26

The close reason is given in the text below the question:

closed as off topic by Steven A. Lowe, Chris, ChrisF♦ 22 hours ago

Questions on Programmers - Stack Exchange are expected to generally relate to software development, within the scope defined in the faq

So follow the link to the FAQ.

It's not always feasible to leave a comment explaining exactly why the question falls foul of the FAQ, but I will often leave comments prior to closing if I feel the question can be edited into shape.

  • 2
    Sorry, this answer is not helpful at all for multiple reasons. 1. I specifically asked about the actual reason in this case, and already stated that I believe it is programming related. 2. Please at least point out what part of the FAQ is going to help me. (3. If everyone would need to study the FAQ to understand a close, have fun with tons of additional 'why was this closed' questions. This point is not important here though since I'm going to ask it on meta.so)
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 13:48
  • I'm sorry if I sounded harsh or rude. I know and firmly believe you're not trying to be malicious to me in any way. It's just that the way you phrased your answer appeared not helpful to me.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:07
  • @mafruct - sorry if it came over that way.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:09
  • @maf: Did you read the FAQ? Particularly the section on what not to ask?
    – Aaronaught
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:27
  • @Aaronaught: I did. Maybe I'm dense but to me, it was not at all easy to understand what exactly was the issue in this case until I read ChrisF's explanation in here.
    – mafu
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:48
  • 1
    @mafutrct the last sentence in ChrisF's answer is pretty key: all moderators on Programmers.SE try to make a special effort to explain, in comments, why we closed a question (you need only look at our activity to see that in action), but in some cases, it's not feasible or we believe the close reason fully covers the nature of the closure. We'd merely be copying and pasting the close reason if required to comment in those cases.
    – user8
    Jul 5, 2011 at 19:53

Surely the reason to close this is that there really is no "right" answer, just a bunch of different conventions followed by a bunch of different people all of which are equally valid.

I'd say it could fit anything from not a real question (because all answers are equally useless) to not constructive (because it doesnt really matter).

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