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This question already has an answer here:

This question is now used to keep track of what our close reasons are and how they have evolved.


As per this meta.SO post, an overhaul of the close system is under way. Of the numerous changes that will take place, the following will no longer be reasons for closing:

  • not a real question,
  • not constructive, and
  • too localized

They will be replaced instead by:

  • unclear what you’re asking,
  • too broad, and
  • primarily opinion-based.

Furthermore, off-topic will now include sub-reasons for closing. This can include site-specific reasons, though any close-voter can write in their own wording for that particular question (which will be subsequently turned into a comment).

So, what should our list of default off-topic reasons be?

In general, what is not covered by the three new reasons (plus duplicate, which is still in place)?

Thanks to EnergyNumbers♦ over on meta.sustainability and Chris White over on meta.physics for this question.

See also this answer to How do moderators make changes to the site-specific closed question reasons? over on meta stackoverflow.

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marked as duplicate by Mark Booth Feb 4 '16 at 0:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

  • $\begingroup$ Is there an easy way to see a list of questions that we've closed? Making a list of the reasons that those questions were closed might help us do this. $\endgroup$ – Ian Jun 18 '13 at 23:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Ian everyone should be able to use the closed:1 search term, but mods and users with over 2k rep (during beta, 10k rep normally) have access to moderator tools (for instance posts closed in the last 30 days). $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth Jun 18 '13 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like our new list of close reasons is missing "too specific", to be used in cases e.g. "what is 2+2" (scope too limited) or "what's the fastest processor?" (only correct until a faster one comes out). Do we still want to close questions like this? If so, how? (and should this be its own meta question)? $\endgroup$ – Ian Jun 26 '13 at 20:28
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Shopping questions should be closed as Primarily Opinion Based

When closed as Primarily Opinion Based, the Shopping questions comment from Copy-pastable comment text for common problems with questions should also be added to the post.

Original proposal

Since we only have three custom close reason slots and one of the standard close reasons covers them sufficiently well, we do not need a specific Shopping question close reason:

primarily opinion-based

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

As Ian originally proposed:

Shopping question: While the answer to many problems is to simply use a product (code library, microcontroller, servo, mechanical part, etc.) designed to solve that exact issue, questions seeking product recommendations or asking where a product might be purchased are offtopic. Not only will such questions have changing answers over time, they are inherently subjective.

History

This was added but then subsequently deactivated before it was approved by another moderator.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I think "opinion-based" covers anything that would be found in shopping. It also covers "life questions". I think the text I wrote for those might be useful for the comments that usually accompany a close vote, even if they aren't one of the close reasons listed in the popup. $\endgroup$ – Ian Jun 26 '13 at 17:42
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The not specific to robotics off-topic close reason is currently active:

Questions which are not specific to robotics are off-topic, but can be asked on other Stack Exchange sites: [so] for programming questions, [electronics.se] for electronics questions and [Arduino.se] and [raspberrypi.se] etc. for their questions. Even questions which are on-topic here may still receive quicker and better answer on a more appropriate stack exchange site. 4 characters left.

Original suggestion:

Whilst I like Ian's suggestions, we only have three custom close reason slots and after the new system was implemented, our site was given a close reason already:

Questions on electronics not specific to robotics are off-topic, but can be asked on Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange.

I quite like this, but it might be worth expanding it to other common topics too, for instance:

Questions on electronics, Arduino or, Raspberry Pi which are not specific to robotics are off-topic, but can be asked on the Electrical Engineering or Raspberry Pi Stack Exchange sites. Even questions which are on-topic here may still receive quicker and better answers on their own sites.

  • This incorporates ThomasH♦'s comment, but trims to the close reason character limit.

would be a good start, and we could add others if necessary.

History:

The suggested close reason was activated.

After the Arduino site went into beta, it was changed to:

Questions on Electronics, Arduino or Raspberry Pi which are not specific to robotics are off-topic, so please try Electrical Engineering, Arduino or Raspberry Pi. Even questions which are on-topic here may still receive quicker and better answers on their own sites.

This is exactly on the character limit for off-topic close reasons

In July 2016 this was changed to the current reason.

Amendment proposal

  • None
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The currently active Default Off-Topic Close Reason is:

This question does not appear to be about $Topic, within the scope defined in the [help]. Please read What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking?

Original proposal

This question does not appear to be about $Topic, within the scope defined in the [help]. Please read What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking?

which ends up being rendered as:

This question does not appear to be about robotics, within the scope defined in the help center. Please read What topics can I ask about here? and What types of questions should I avoid asking?

Suggestions for changes and additions are, of course, welcome.

History

The original proposal was made a active default off-topic close reason.

Amendment proposal

  • None
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Doing a very informal and sloppy tabulation of "reasons a robotics question got closed", I see the following 3 major categories (duplicates excluded):

Shopping questions (15 questions)

  • What products exist that could solve my problem?
  • Which product will solve my problem?
  • Which code library should I use?
  • Where can/should I buy product X?

Open-ended design questions (10 questions)

  • What's the best way to [some broad topic, e.g. get a robot to move from A to B]?
  • Which approach is better / best?
  • What are some ways of solving X?
  • Is X possible?

Questions about where to start or what to learn (6 questions)

  • What's a good informational resource on X?
  • What should I study in school?
  • What should I make for my next project?

So, I would suggest the following entries for "offtopic" reasons:

  1. Shopping question: While the answer to many problems is to simply use a product (code library, microcontroller, servo, mechanical part, etc.) designed to solve that exact issue, questions seeking product recommendations or asking where a product might be purchased are offtopic. Not only will such questions have changing answers over time, they are inherently subjective.
  2. Unbounded Design Question: There are many ways to solve any design problem, so questions that ask for a list of approaches or a subjective recommendation on method (for how to build something, how to accomplish something, what something is capable of, etc.) are offtopic.
  3. Life Questions: Choosing how to spend your time (what book to read, which class to take, what robotics project to construct, what career to pursue, etc.) can be a difficult decision. Such questions are important, but are offtopic for this site.

    • Discussion of these specific suggestions have been moved into their own answers.
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  • $\begingroup$ Excellent analysis Ian, and excellent suggestions. Thanks, $\endgroup$ – Mark Booth Jun 20 '13 at 13:25
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the work, Ian. Those are excellent suggestions. I would only suggest maybe adding a sentence to help users improve their questions, e.g.:Rather than asking "How does a robot know where it is in the world?", you can ask "What are the advantages of using [tag:slam] approach X vs. Y when using a wheeled robot with a Kinect indoors?" $\endgroup$ – ThomasH Jun 27 '13 at 11:19
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The demonstrate an understanding off-topic close reason is currently active :

Questions must demonstrate an understanding of the problem to be solved, so they should include details of what you want to achieve, what you tried, what you saw, what you expected to see and what you don't understand. See [ask], [about], [help/dont-ask] and the Robotics question checklist for advice on how to write a good question. 8 characters left.

Original Proposal

Over on Stack Overflow, I've just noticed one of their off-topic close reasons:

Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Tell us what you've tried to do, why it didn't work, and how it should work. See also: Stack Overflow question checklist"

I think with some rework, and our own checklist this could be a valuable addition.

History

The proposal for this to replace Unbounded Design Questions in July 2016 was accepted.

Amendment proposals

  • None
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Unbounded Design Questions should be closed as either Primarily Opinion Based or Too Broad

When closed as either Primarily Opinion Based or Too Broad, the Unbounded Design Questions comment from Copy-pastable comment text for common problems with questions should also be added to the post.

Original proposal

From Ian's answer:

Unbounded Design Questions are off-topic because there are many ways to solve any given design problem, so questions that ask for a list of approaches or a subjective recommendation on a method (for how to build something, how to accomplish something, what something is capable of, etc.) are off-topic.

Suggestions for changes and additions are, of course, welcome.

History

The original proposal was made an active off-topic close reason.

Amendment proposal July 2016:

  • Remove this off-topic close reason.
  • Unbounded Design Questions should be closed as either Too Broad or Primarily Opinion Based
  • When closed as either Too Broad or Primarily Opinion Based, the Unbounded Design Questions comment from Copy-pastable comment text for common problems with questions should also be added to the post.

The idea behind this is that Unbounded Design Questions are only off-topic if they are Too Broad or Primarily Opinion Based. If they can be narrowed down, they are no longer UDQ's, ditto if they can be made good-subjective. See Good Subjective, Bad Subjective and in particular the reference to the "Back it up! principle".

This proposal was accepted and replaced by the demonstrate an understanding off-topic close reason.

Amendment proposal

  • None
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The Life Questions off-topic close reason is currently active:

Life Questions are off-topic. Questions about choosing how to spend your time (what book to read, which class to take, what robotics project to construct, what career to pursue, etc.) may be about difficult decisions, and they are often important, but they are too specific to your own situation and are unlikely to help future visitors to the site. They would be better off asked in [chat].

Note that really, this is another example of Primarily Opinion Based, so it should be a candidate for removal if we find a close reason not covered by one of the standard reasons.

If closed as Primarily Opinion Based, the Life questions comment from Copy-pastable comment text for common problems with questions should also be added to the post.

Original proposal

Based on the suggestion in Ian's answer:

Life Questions are off-topic. Questions about choosing how to spend your time (what book to read, which class to take, what robotics project to construct, what career to pursue, etc.) may be about difficult decisions, and they are often important, but they are too specific to your own situation and are unlikely to help future visitors to the site. They would be better off asked in [chat].

Suggestions for changes and additions are, of course, welcome.

History

The suggested close reason was activated.

Amendment proposal

  • None
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