We only have so many canned, built in, close reasons. There are so many other reasons to close something at times - giving a better message than trying to shoehorn the reason to close something into too broad or primarily opinion.

Custom close messages have the significant advantage when it comes to trying to get a good answer in that they also leave a comment that (ideally) would help the person asking (or attempting to fix) the question understand what needs to be done before the question is closed and make it suitable (or delete it if its really off topic and would ultimately garner down votes).

Short and abrupt close messages may be off-putting to some and don't help as much when it comes to getting people to write good questions. The tricks to writing good messages is a combination of having them at the ready and knowing the quick little 'magic links' that can be used to link to the right spot.

Close reasons use the comment markdown, which gives a bunch of additional magic links. MSO details them in balpha's answer, thought the short version most applicable to close reasons:

Using these quick links will make it easier to fit more into a canned (or not) message without actually using more text.

Additionally, its a better experience for all involved to not migrate questions that will get closed in some way other than a duplicate on the target site. A fine line should be considered when suggesting to repost a question on another site without having it closed/deleted on the first one. Be sure that the question is on topic at the target site. If in doubt, don't suggest reposting but instead flag for a moderator to migrate the question.

I have also found the following links to be helpful to reference when writing close messages (not everyone knows where they are).

  • [Stack Overflow question checklist](https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/156810/) => Stack Overflow question checklist - a compressive list of things to check before posting a question to Stack Overflow.
  • [Let’s Play The Guessing Game](http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2012/02/lets-play-the-guessing-game) => Let’s Play The Guessing Game - a Jeff Atwood blog post from Feb 2012 about the awkward nature of trying to name something
  • [Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping!](http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2010/11/qa-is-hard-lets-go-shopping/) => Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping! - a Jeff Atwood blog post from November 2010 about questions asking for a shopping list.
  • [What can I do when getting “We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account”?](https://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/86997/) => What can I do when getting “We are no longer accepting questions/answers from this account”? - the question ban MSE reference. Likely not that useful in a close reason (you'd need to be a mod on SO to check if a user is question banned prior to a migration - however, when a migration fails because of a question ban on the target site, this is a useful link to have so its included here).

I've often found myself going to a meta question to pull up a pre-written close message and then copying and pasting that into the question. Just go in, edit the question to grab the source and copy and paste it into the close reason.

Hopefully, this will help people looking for the right wording for closing a question.


6 Answers 6


Would be migrated to SO, but likely closed there

This question is off topic on Programmers. It would best be asked on Stack Overflow, however, the question doesn't meet their minimum requirements. Please read the Stack Overflow question checklist and [edit] your question to make it suitable for migration.

  • 2
    I propose some minor changes: This question is off topic on Programmers. It would best be asked on Stack Overflow, however, the question doesn't meet their minimum requirements. Please read the [Stack Overflow question checklist](http://meta.stackexchange.com/questions/156810/stack-overflow-question-checklist) and [edit] your question to make it suitable for migration.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Nov 3, 2013 at 10:52
  • I'm pretty sure that this is one of my most often used custom close reasons, btw.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jan 31, 2014 at 0:12
  • @ThomasOwens it would be interesting to poke Shog about close reason (and associated expand the close reason count) request again... though we would really need data from deleted questions too.
    – user40980
    Jan 31, 2014 at 17:18
  • If it was a close reason, I wonder if it could be more generic and not specific to SO. I think I used a similar reason for a few questions flagged for migration to Code Review or The Workplace. If there was a standard place that wasn't tied to a site that defined what a good question was, I would be all over that.
    – Thomas Owens Mod
    Jan 31, 2014 at 17:23

Temporal question

This is meant to address questions such as "what sessions should I go to at ApacheCon 2011" or "It's almost 2014. What does a modern Perl/Python dev stack look like?" Such questions rapidly lose their value to the site as time passes.

This question seeks information that is firmly rooted in the now. Questions that seek the current information rarely produce good long term material for the site that can will be useful after the event or sufficient time has passed.


What is the name of this thing

"What is the name of this thing" questions are off-topic. These are poor questions for the same reasons that "identify this obscure TV show, film or book by its characters or story" are bad questions: you can't Google them, they aren't practical in any way, they don't help anyone else, and allowing them opens the door for the asking of other types of marginal questions. See Also Let's Play the Guessing Game

Slightly adapted from this MSO post


Troll question

This is meant to address questions such as "What kind of transistor should I program in?" or "It's almost 2014. Why are we still using computers?" Such questions rapidly irritate the site as time passes.

This question appears to be looking for information, but that information is not looking for this question. In the future try searching your C: drive, or check the stacks at your local library.


Unresearched question

This is meant to address questions such as "How do I write a file searching program in .PHP?" or "I need to create a database, how do I do that?" Such questions are not answerable because the answer would require too much background, the questioner needs to post the context of what he does know and has tried to narrow the scope of what an answer needs to cover.

This question appears to be lacking many details necessary to narrow it's scope so that an answer could fit. Sharing your research helps everyone, tell us what you found (on this site or elsewhere) and why it didn't meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer


Unclear what help you need

Unclear what help you need. Please clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell what problem you are trying to solve or what aspect of your approach needs to be corrected or explained. See the [ask] page for help clarifying this question.

Note [ask] above is so called magic link, meaning that in comments it auto-expands into How to Ask.

Slightly adapted from this MSO post

  • testing [ask] auto-expansion here: How to Ask - see, that's how it works
    – gnat
    Jan 15, 2014 at 17:39

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