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Last year (2020) saw some changes to the question closure system across the SE network. One of the changes was to introduce audience-specific texts for custom close reasons, so that the OP, close voters, privileged users, and the general public can all get slightly different versions of the same essential explanation of why a question is unsuitable for the site. By default, all versions for existing close reasons are set to the same thing, since there didn't use to be any option to have different versions. Some sites already changed their close reasons by creating separate texts as the system now allows. I'm hereby kickstarting an effort to do the same thing here on SFF, but I'll be taking our custom close reasons one at a time and creating a different meta post for each one. (This was also one of the suggestions last year for "ways to improve SFF.SE".)

First up is the scientific solutions or explanations close reason, where the current text is:

Questions seeking scientific solutions or explanations are off-topic unless related directly to a cited work of fiction. There are several other Stack Exchange sites dedicated to answering questions on non-fictional sciences. For more information, see What is our actual policy on science questions? on meta.

The following image shows the different boxes that can be filled by mods/CMs with different text. The first two appear in the close/flag dialogue before the post is closed; the last three appear in post notices after the post is closed.

  • The Brief description is the bold header for the close reason.
  • The Usage guidance is what will appear in the close menu, advising people when to use the close reason.
  • The Close description will be shown to everyone in the post notice and should be relatively short.
  • The Post owner guidance appears in the post notice and is how the OP should fix the question (if possible).
  • The Privileged user guidance is informative for the people with close privilege regarding what the close reason is.

enter image description here


Let's get a consensus on what we should put in each box.

We need CM help to edit an existing close reason, so a clear meta consensus is essential, then we can it and get them to help us making the necessary changes. I'm going to post an answer below with my proposed texts; please vote and give feedback or suggested improvements if necessary.

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Brief description

The name shown to flaggers/close-voters when seeking an option in the close menu:

Real-world science question

Usage guidance

The description shown to flaggers/close-voters after choosing this close reason:

This question seeks scientific solutions or explanations. Real-world science is off-topic unless rooted clearly within a cited work of fiction. Note that asking for an answer within the context of a fictional universe, even if that question requires real-world science information, is on-topic. For more details, see What is our actual policy on science questions? on meta.

Close description

The text shown to everybody, even non-users, viewing the closed question:

This question was closed for being about real-world science. It is currently not accepting answers.

Post owner guidance

The more detailed text shown, under the general close description, to the OP only when viewing their closed question:

Your question appears to be about real-world scientific explanations, solutions, or plausibility, and may be more suited for one of the other Stack Exchange sites dedicated to non-fictional sciences. If you are seeking an answer only within the context of a fictional universe, then please edit to clarify, and your question may be reopened. For more information, please see this FAQ post.

Privileged user guidance

The more detailed text shown, under the general close description, to any 3k+ rep user viewing the closed question:

Please consider whether you can edit the question, or guide the asker in how to edit it, to be about in-universe explanations rather than real-world science, and vote to reopen the question if appropriate. If the question would be better suited for one of the Stack Exchange sites on non-fictional sciences, please guide the asker appropriately in comments, including suggesting improvements to the question for that site if necessary.

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    I can't spot anything that needs changing here, all looks good. The only thing I thought of was "Real-world science is off-topic unless related directly to a cited work of fiction." in the usage guidance. Something can be related/inspired by but still real world. However, as that's expanded upon in the next sentence and it's only shown to flaggers/close voters I don't think there's any problem there. – TheLethalCarrot Mod Feb 23 at 10:45
  • @TheLethalCarrot That part is actually taken from the original/current close reason text, and I didn't see any reason to change it. Do you think "related" should be replaced by something else? (The next sentence is copied directly from Mike's meta FAQ establishing the policy on this close reason.) – Rand al'Thor Mod Feb 23 at 15:15
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    I don't think it needs to be changed but perhaps a small tweak to make it more inline with our actual policy wouldn't be a bad idea. Could possibly combine those two sentences... something like: "Real-world science is off-topic unless asking for an answer within the context of a fictional universe, even if that question requires real-world science information." – TheLethalCarrot Mod Feb 23 at 15:19
  • @TheLethalCarrot "Real-world science is off-topic unless rooted clearly within a cited work of fiction"? – Rand al'Thor Mod Feb 23 at 15:42
  • That sounds better than what's there currently aye. – TheLethalCarrot Mod Feb 23 at 15:44
  • So... the post owner guidance contains the same link as the close description - so that link to the meta post will appear twice for the askers - are y'all good with that? Same thing with the privileged user link. – Catija ModStaff May 26 at 21:58

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