8

First: We have a fourth custom close reason added.

One of the most common close reasons that isn't accounted for by one of the current custom close reasons is for questions seeking legal advice or aid. In the last 90 days, we closed 11 questions with a comment that such questions are off-topic here, and we migrated several others to either Law or Open Source. The CM staff turned on a 4th custom close reason to give us a standard message to close the questions that are not suitable for migration.

Keep in mind that a custom close reason is limited to 400 characters and must be at least 25 characters. The standard first line is "Questions asking {X} are off-topic on Programmers." We should link to appropriate information/guidance, which can be Meta posts or Help Center pages (here or on another site). Examples are the writing-code reason links to a page on the Stack Overflow Help Center and the find or recommend tools links to The Whiteboard (our chat room).

I'm proposing the following custom close text:

Questions asking for legal advice are off-topic on Programmers. You may be able to get help with understanding, applying, and complying with free and open licenses on Open Source. You may be able to get help with legal terms, language, processes, and procedures on Law.


Second: I'd like to make a tiny revision to the "writing or debugging code" off-topic reason to include understanding code. This is something that we call out in the Help Center's on-topic page, but don't call out in the off-topic closure reason.

Questions asking for assistance in explaining, writing or debugging code are off-topic on Programmers. These questions can be asked on Stack Overflow if they include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error, and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question (see How To Create a MCVE).

or

Questions asking for assistance in understanding, writing or debugging code are off-topic on Programmers. These questions can be asked on Stack Overflow if they include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error, and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question. See How To Create a Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable Example.

The first proposal links to the Stack Overflow /help/on-topic page while the second only links to the /help/mcve page. It's not possible (as far as I can see, without using a URL shortener) to link to both pages and spell out "Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable Example".

Again, we're limited to a minimum of 25 characters and a maximum of 400 characters.


Finally, there is a possibility that we may get a 5th close reason. Based on current stats, this would likely be for tool support questions. However, The CM team would like to get the name change done and see how that impacts our question closure rates.

  • Do you really need to spell out MCVE? Is it worth losing the link to SO's help/on-topic page for? – ChrisF Oct 13 '16 at 15:42
  • 1
    @ChrisF I'd say no. I'm leaning toward the first one, but I wanted to present both options. Right now, we spell out MCVE and don't link to SO's /help/on-topic page. Personally, I'd rather link to SO's /help/on-topic page and /help/MVCE page, since clicking on that link will define MVCE. – Thomas Owens Oct 13 '16 at 15:45
  • 3
    You might want to use the word "explaining" instead of "understanding." Questions about understanding code are OK, so long as they're related to a design problem. The questions we don't want are the "how does this code work {paste code here}" variety (which are already Too Broad anyway). – Robert Harvey Oct 13 '16 at 22:40
  • @RobertHarvey Valid point. We'll also probably want to make that wording change in the Help Center and Tour pages, since I think "understanding" is used there, too. I'm updating the contents in this question now. – Thomas Owens Oct 13 '16 at 22:44
  • @RobertHarvey Also, as an SO mod, do you have any preference as to how we link in that close reason? Unless there is another preference or problems, I'm leaning toward the first option that links to the two SO Help Center pages. – Thomas Owens Oct 13 '16 at 22:45
  • No, those links are great. I do think you ought to spell out "Minimal, Complete and Verifiable Example." Nobody knows what MCVE means, except those who have read the article and have seen the initials (I'm pretty sure SE created that term). – Robert Harvey Oct 13 '16 at 22:57
  • @RobertHarvey It doesn't fit with both links. :( Unless you can do extra wordsmith magic. The text for link syntax counts against the 400 character limit. – Thomas Owens Oct 13 '16 at 22:58
  • 1
    Oh, never mind then. The link is fine the way it is. – Robert Harvey Oct 13 '16 at 22:59
  • Love the Law close reason. – Robert Harvey Oct 13 '16 at 23:00
  • 2
    394 chars: Questions asking for **assistance in explaining, writing or debugging code** are off-topic here. These can be asked on [Stack Overflow](http://stackoverflow.com/help/on-topic) if they include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error, and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question (see [Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable Example](http://stackoverflow.com/help/mcve)). (Note how "Programmers" is replaced with "here" - after site name change it would have to go away anyway) – gnat Oct 14 '16 at 8:40
  • 1
    @gnat That's actually a good idea. Should update all of the close reasons to remove Programmers, probably. – Thomas Owens Oct 14 '16 at 9:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .