There is some discussion about adding custom close reason for questions that are asking for general advice or are just rants. To me these are not neccessarily off topic, as they are usually about navigating the work place but just questions that are not asked appropriately.

Off topic questions are questions that are about topics that are not about navigating the workplace or are related but have been designated as out of bounds to the workplace. For instance questions asking for Salary ranges, or which job to accept are related but have been declared off topic. No matter how the question is worded the question is off-topic.

We already have one exception and that is questions asking for legal advice. Most questions in this realm can be saved by instead of asking if they are OK or at risk, by asking how they can achieve their goal properly. But we have said that if you ask for legal advice that is a no-no mostly because of the potential risk it puts on SE and this site, as well as the fact that legal answers are rarely definite and that with out a detailed analysis it is rarely possible to give decent advice based off of the limited details provided here.

So my question is should we be adding other off topic reasons that can usually be edited to be on topic with out changing the core of the question?

For instance if a questions says:

My boss hates me what should I do?

Should it be ok to close this as off topic then edit it to say:

My boss hates me, How can I find out why so I can address the issue?

(Question overly simpified I know) The question here is still basically the same just clarified what the goal is. The topic is still the same but based on the question asked it is on topic.

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    This is a long standing issue on meta.se. "Strictly-speaking, those two reasons are intended to capture some of the meaning of the old "Not a Real Question" close reason that was lost as we reworked the system to be more specific." I don't think it's a great answer either, but it is status-declined from the powers that be. Feel free to work there if you want to get it resolved, but in the meantime I wouldn't get hung up on it as there is nothing we (the mods of TWP) can do to change it.
    – jmac
    Jun 2, 2014 at 14:22
  • @jmac - I am not actually opposed to the idea of using it like this. But I think we should have the discussion as a community so that when people are confused in the future we can point them to that discussion so that people can understand the thought behind it. And have a starting place to revisit should problems arise from it. Jun 2, 2014 at 14:25
  • Then may I suggest making an FAQ-style post? Just label it FAQ-proposed, explain the stuff here, and whatever else you want, and we can community wiki it and see what the community comes up with. Regardless, after updating the off-topic close reasons, I planned to put it all together in a single post for reference, but if you are motivated I will happily defer.
    – jmac
    Jun 2, 2014 at 14:30
  • I am not convinced that just because it was decided that was appropriate at SO that it is appropriate here. I still think there should be some community discussion before we get to the FAQ point. I would hope you mods are behind that. As a side note I think omnibus style meta posts make it difficult to address things that need changed and tend to ram through policies that may have been better tweaked had the posts been broken up in to more self contained chunks. Jun 2, 2014 at 14:32
  • Chad, regardless of whether the mods are behind it or not, it isn't something that we have any more power to change than you do. Nobody is 'ramming through policies' and nobody is stopping you from breaking off discussions in to separate chunks. The current discussion (of whether to call these off-topic or not) is a spin-off of the linked meta discussion. For our site I've already presented stats on how we are closing these questions anyway, if you think the community is wrong could you please at least cite specific examples of this problem so it can be discussed with the people who closed?
    – jmac
    Jun 2, 2014 at 23:35
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    @jmac - I did not say that it was wrong, just that the discussion was warranted and even asked for by Jmort in the other thread. And when you say you have presented stats... perhaps you could link to where that is as I am not sure what post you are referring too. Jun 3, 2014 at 13:24
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    I went through 262 questions closed as off-topic to see what types of questions they were. I still don't understand what discussion you want to have here. These questions are being closed, they are just getting closed for different reasons (off-topic / primarily opinion-based / unclear what you're asking). I just want a clear message that says, "Questions of these types will be closed" because that's what is actually happening, and that's the type of question we keep getting more of.
    – jmac
    Jun 4, 2014 at 4:41
  • Having an appropriate and understandable close reason is important to avoid the feeling of arbitrariness that happens with Opinion based now. I think a discussion that we can point to that explains well why these are off topic can only help and I am totally confused by your reluctance to have that discussion. Jun 4, 2014 at 13:44
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    I can honestly say I have no idea why you think I'm unwilling to discuss it (we're on the third meta question now). To be perfectly blunt, I don't understand what your objection is because you are making different comments saying different things on different posts and haven't offered an alternative that I can grok. Mind either editing this, or making an answer to one of the other two meta questions discussing this to let the community know exactly what your concerns are so that we can address them directly? Thanks in advance.
    – jmac
    Jun 4, 2014 at 14:29
  • @jmac - The alternative is we stay with the process as it is now... It has worked to get us to this point. I do not think that change for the sake of change is a good thing. I am not sure this is better than what we had with out the discussion. Jun 4, 2014 at 15:24
  • Just a note as seen here The use of off topic close reasons for questions about topics that are ok but questions that are not is causing confusion... please weigh in mod. Jun 24, 2014 at 13:55
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    Hi @Chad, I wonder if the asker would have been less confused if one of the custom close reasons covered this case? The custom close reasons do have some resources included in them that point askers and community members to our meta resources. In cases where people are confused, we can always weigh in with a comment, and if it looks like the close reason is causing too much confusion, we can look into making adjustments. Nothing should be seen as permanent. Hope this helps.
    – jmort253
    Jun 27, 2014 at 1:34

2 Answers 2


I see off-topic as meaning "off-topic in its current format". To me this means that something that's off-topic could be edited to bring it within bounds. What might be missing from the close reason in question is some information on what the asker can do to edit it into shape.

Going with the Stack Overflow example, posts are closed as off-topic if they're missing code to replicate the problem behavior. However, askers can easily fix this problem by including the simple example needed to help askers get started. Many closures are prevented in this manner, and many posts are summarily reopened once the problem with the post is improved.

For The Workplace, the question is whether or not this off-topic close reason would properly communicate what steps are needed to sufficiently improve the question. On The Workplace, some workplace interpersonal relations questions, when they contain rants, lack of objectivity, and one-sidedness, are a great example of a post that is only close-able depending on its wording. While these types of questions do get closed, we oftentimes bring them back into scope by editing out rants and rewording the post so it's more constructive and objective.

If the concern is that it won't be clear to people the questions can actually be edited and improved, is it possible to clarify that in the close reason how the post can be fixed?


I don't think "off-topic" means "wholly off-topic and unredeemable", any more than the other close reasons mean "unredeemable". A question is put on hold when, as written, it does not satisfy site rules. If it can't be fixed, it'll eventually move from "on hold" to "closed" and, potentially, be deleted. If it can be edited and reopened, then the close reason no longer applies (and is removed).

Think of close reasons as applying to the current state of the question. They're not necessarily existential statements about the underlying topic.

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    The 'off-topic' terminology is linked to the mod-editable help center 'on-topic' entry as well. So long as that explains what is on/off-topic here, the terminology shouldn't be that confusing.
    – jmac
    Jun 3, 2014 at 2:58
  • @jmac I thought the same thing about not constructive and NARQ... Jun 3, 2014 at 21:34

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