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I'm a bit reluctant when voting to close. I remember how tough it was figuring out how to craft a good question. I also know I need to get over it. One thing that helps me get over it is adding a comment with the info I wish I had taken seriously sooner.

When you see your question closed it's so easy to focus on the close message. Which is sad because all the editing effort focuses on 1 of what is likely 5 or so problems.

Of course not every close voter needs to do this. And it won't be appropriate for every case. But when it is, I like do more than just vote to close.

The question here is, what should that info be? Trying to keep it generic enough to use in most cases while keeping it useful to the asker.

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    Regarding reluctance to close... Closing off-topic questions should happen as quickly as possible. Questions that remain open provide no incentive for the OP to improve them. In practice, a very small percentage of questions ever improve enough to reopen, largely because, had the OP made the effort to find a suitable place to ask their question, they wouldn't have been off-topic in the first place. – Robert Harvey Sep 8 '16 at 17:03
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    @RobertHarvey won't argue the need to close. Just saying I learned more from the people who took the time to yell at me. :) – candied_orange Sep 8 '16 at 18:31
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    It seems this is your answer to my former meta question How to improve our style for reacting on “low quality questions”. – Doc Brown Sep 17 '16 at 8:02
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    Canned comments have a long history of poor results, both here and on Stack Overflow. Before you resort to using canned comments, consider either taking the time to write a very brief, custom explanation in your comment instead, or refrain from commenting altogether and let your downvotes and close votes do the talking. – Robert Harvey Sep 19 '16 at 5:48
  • @RobertHarvey If you look at my postings you'll see I have often followed this comment with a custom explanation. But before that I clearly show them the rules. Since we don't have an interstitial page I'm basically doing it manually. Have you noticed any problems with how I've used it? – candied_orange Sep 19 '16 at 5:56
  • No, but it's a shot in the dark. And it's a shot that happens after the person has already asked their off-topic question. – Robert Harvey Sep 19 '16 at 6:03
  • @RobertHarvey Not saying it's better than the interstitial page idea or that it'll work every time but after I've commented and voted to close I have seen a number of "This page has been voluntarily removed by it's author" messages. Isn't it better if they learn to clean things up themselves? – candied_orange Sep 19 '16 at 6:14
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    I have about a 5% success rate convincing people to remove their off-topic questions themselves. Hopefully you can do better. – Robert Harvey Sep 19 '16 at 6:17
  • @RobertHarvey I'm trying. Thanks for showing an interest. You are the grand old master here so I welcome any input. – candied_orange Sep 19 '16 at 6:23
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    You might find this interesting: meta.programmers.stackexchange.com/questions/8204 – Robert Harvey Sep 19 '16 at 6:24
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I've been using this message:

Welcome to Software Engineering. We only support good, on-topic questions. Many sites have different rules. Feel free to take your issue to an appropriate site if one exists. Search existing answers first. Edit your question to fit the sites needs. Please don't cross post by failing to delete your question here.

Welcome to Software Engineering. We only support [good](https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask), [on-topic](https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) questions. [Many sites](http://stackexchange.com/sites) have [different rules](https://softwareengineering.meta.stackexchange.com/a/8067). Feel free to take your issue to an appropriate site if one exists. Search existing answers first. Edit your question to fit the sites needs. Please [don't cross post](https://meta.stackexchange.com/tags/cross-posting/info) by failing to delete your question here.

It's been successful in getting a few askers to clean up on their own. I might even suggest that with this, fewer bitter arguments start after the close. Bit hard to tell yet but I think it's helped. Use it if you like. Maybe you can do better. If you can, please share.

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I think your message is fine, it is polite and and contains useful information, especially for new users. IMHO it is a much better reaction than just downvoting and closing without any comment, or these rude or terse comments we saw in the past and discussed here.

When I just tried to use a similar comment, first thing I noted is: this fits only to a certain kind of low-quality questions. For example, if someone blatantly asks for a website or book or other 3rd party resource, it is pretty pointless to tell him he should try it on another SE site. For these kind of questions, I think a downvote, a close vote, and just no comment is probably appropriate. The automatically displayed text the asker will be shown after his question is closed is IMHO self-explanatory enough.

Nevertheless, I think the general idea is fine: having some precanned, polite text template or maybe templates for different issues, where we just need to fill out the name of the asker, can help to keep a better balance between removing the crap from the site as quickly as possible on one hand, but also staying professional and friendly to newcomers on the other hand.

I like yours, but I would try to improve the wording in some details slightly, and I think adding a personal "Hi User" gives a much better impression to the asker. So here is my attempt to improve your text:

Hi XYZ, welcome to this site. We only support good, on-topic questions. This site list may help you to find out where your topic fits best. Please search existing answers first. If you do not find one which matches your issue, feel free to take it to an appropriate site. Please don't cross post by failing to delete your question here.

Hi XYZ, welcome to this site. We only support [good](https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask), [on-topic](https://softwareengineering.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic) questions. [This site list](http://stackexchange.com/sites) may help you to find out where [your topic fits best](http://goo.gl/YoQVd0). Please search existing answers first. If you do not find one which matches your issue, feel free to take it to an appropriate site. Please [don't cross post](https://meta.stackexchange.com/tags/cross-posting/info) by failing to delete your question here.

(Unfortunately, I needed to use an URL shortener to come around the maximum text size limit of comments, I hope that does not break any site rules).

Yes, I am aware filling out the user name will slow down the process of making the comment a little bit, since you cannot just copy-paste the text blindly into the comment form. But it will (hopefully) give the reader a better impression that you treat him like a real person.

  • I really like the idea of the url shortener. Hope it's within the rules. Users might not like going cross site. Pity stackexchange doesn't have one. This will help if we ever get around to changing our name to software engineering. – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 12:58
  • You're right about it fitting only a certain kind. This particular message is focused on encouraging self migration (our most common issue) though it has resulted in simple self deletion. I've been working on slight variations for different issues but have been trying to keep them fairly uniform. It's a rare question that has only one issue and rarer still for every close voter to agree. I want a message that is polite, informative, and as indisputable as possible. – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 13:17
  • I'm hesitant to use "where your question fits best". I've been careful to decouple the question from their issue. A question can be bad while the issue is fine. (For that matter, an issue can be bad while the person is fine). With the URL shortener I might have room to make that more clear. – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 13:23
  • The name does make this more personal. Hopefully that's a good thing. It wouldn't slow me down at all with the right userscript loaded. It's just a huge variable since they don't have a predictable length. Again the URL shortener is a big help. – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 13:27
  • While I still don't know how to shorten how-to-ask without going cross site, I've just realized the different rules / your question fits best answer has a share link that produces a shorter URL. – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 13:45
  • @CandiedOrange: thanks for your response. I exchanged "where your question fits best" by "where your topic fits best", hope that is better now. By the way, how do I find such share links? – Doc Brown Sep 17 '16 at 13:55
  • You can find one on this very answer: Share Link.png – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 14:03
  • I like "where your topic fits best". It's decoupled from how they presented the issue in their question and it's consistent with the "on-topic" link. – candied_orange Sep 17 '16 at 14:18
  • BTW: the last path component of the share link is your own user ID. It is used for tracking which users multiply visibility of the network outside of the network itself. (Is there a badge for that?) If you are not interested in that sort of Internet fame, you can chop it off, winning another few characters. – Jörg W Mittag Sep 18 '16 at 11:57
  • @JörgWMittag you're right! Updated. Thanks much. – candied_orange Jan 28 '18 at 8:00
  • @JörgWMittag ah. well it was a nice idea. thx anyway – candied_orange Jan 28 '18 at 8:11

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