Changes are coming to the Question Closing system. The existing Vote To Close reasons are being overhauled. We've already seen some of these changes in the Duplicate Question area. That link above has a full rundown of the changes, and I recommend reading it, but this question is for one specific area:

5. Off-topic closures will include feedback on what specifically is off-topic for that site. (new)

  • Each site will have a list of its own specific pre-selected “Off-Topic” reasons (up to 3)
  • Each closer will either select one of the site's standard reasons from the list (for instance, “Recipe requests are off-topic, although recipe replacements, etc. are allowed”),
  • Closers can enter a free-form reason ("Your question appears to be about 'Cat Grooming', which is off-topic for Stack Overflow.")
    Free-form reasons will be presented as a comments, but the close dialogue will refer the reader to the comments for more info
  • Free-form reasons picked by closers will be available to subsequent close-voters on that question as one of the selections from the list
  • These lists will be determined by the communities, and moderators will be able to update them, subject to review by each other, their community, and the SE team

Reasons will need to be specific enough to make it clear to most readers what is and is not allowed (off-topic reasons of the form "Things that are NOT X" will be discouraged).

This is also the place to address any closing reason that applies to one site but not others (for instance, the "General Reference" close reason on English Language and Usage is moving here).

So, what should our site's Off-topic close reasons be? Please only post one per answer.

  • I'm tempted to post That's the joke as a possible close reason, from that old meta question...
    – Izkata
    Jun 15, 2013 at 4:08
  • 1
    @Keen - if there are >3 options roughly equally voted, does the site have an option of picking 4-5? If not, what is the formal process of picking? Exact voting rank for this post? Instant-runoff revoting? Mods pick? SE pick? Jun 15, 2013 at 11:59

5 Answers 5


Brace yourselves: new close reasons are coming

The main non-obvious question type that is about SF but isn't accepted here is lists and recommendations. (Two types really, but they have similar problems.)

  • Requests for lists of works or recommendations are off-topic as they do not fit our questions and answers format. Feel free to ask about people's favorites in chat.
  • 1
    ...especially lists about robots...
    – user8719
    Jun 13, 2013 at 21:41
  • 2
    ... time traveling robots Jun 14, 2013 at 21:47

This question does not pertain to Science Fiction or Fantasy

We've gotten a couple that would fall under this:

Related meta question: Are real world speculation questions still on topic?

  • 1
    I would emphasize the fiction more here, since it seems to be what people miss. Perhaps: this question is solely about the real world, not fiction. I think the wrong-genre case is hard to have, because genre is so grey.
    – Tony Meyer
    Jun 15, 2013 at 5:12
  • The "One I vaguely remember" might be this question. It was asked earlier in a somewhat different form on Biology.SE.
    – user11683
    Jun 15, 2013 at 12:20
  • @PaulA.Clayton No, but that fits just as well as another example for this off-topic reason. I'm thinking of something that involved bunnies, their diet, and sentience...?
    – Izkata
    Jun 15, 2013 at 14:48
  • Perhaps this one about bullet time then? (Yes, this will be my last guess--not that I like unresolved issues.)
    – user11683
    Jun 15, 2013 at 15:14

Questions about religious texts which are asked from the assumption that said text is "fiction" are off-topic.

(frankly, i'm half a mind to NOT consider that offtopic, instead closing such things as "Not Constructive")

Reference: Why was this question about the Old Testament closed as off-topic?

  • 6
    I prefer the language in Izkata's answer for this situation. Yes, it's less specific, but we only get three close reasons. If this specific problem needs calling out, we'd be better off appending "Religious texts are not considered Science Fiction of Fantasy for these purposes" with a meta link to the end than dedicating a separate close reason. Jun 16, 2013 at 21:44

Off-Topic reason: Genre classification questions are offtopic.

Examples: "is X Science Fiction"? "Is Y SciFi or Fantasy?"

References: Should questions about "Is X science fiction" be off-topic?

  • 2
    I'm not sure we get enough of these to make it a canned close reason.
    – Kevin
    Jun 20, 2013 at 13:50

I've two suggestions but I'm going to limit them to one per answer as requested. Here's the first.

Speculation on future events of a work-in-progress series

There have been a number of cases of these recently, but two in particular that I'm thinking of are "What canon level will the 7th Star Wars movie be?" (closed as not constructive) and "Spoiler: Why did Ned- Stark not mention it?" (closed as not constructive).

In both of these cases, the question is totally impossible to answer for the simple reasons that (question 1) we don't know yet, and (question 2) it's based on an as-yet-to-be confirmed or denied fan theory.

Looking through the new list of close reasons, I can see that "primarily opinion-based" may also be viewed as an option for either of these, but I believe that "off topic" is more suitable because they're relating to things we don't know about the series yet (and in the latter case may never know). Because of that they encourage discussions, speculation about the future course of the series, arguments, theorizing, etc, which are squarely off-topic for a Q&A site. These two questions can't even solicit opinions; "an opinion is a belief about matters commonly considered to be subjective", and they don't even go that far.

  • 1
    I don't think this is so common as to justify a predefined sub-reason.
    – user56
    Jun 13, 2013 at 21:51
  • Well, on June 4th we had "Summary of Daenerys Targaryen's fate", on June 6th we had "Who is Tauriel"; it's becoming more common for sure but OK, maybe it's just a phase or maybe on balance other reasons would push it out.
    – user8719
    Jun 13, 2013 at 22:11
  • 1
    I can't remember the specific question, but there was one about what happened in the cliffhanger at the end of one GoT episode which got answered one week later when the next episode aired. I think it might have got closed as "too localised"
    – HorusKol
    Jun 14, 2013 at 10:58
  • @HorusKol Something to note is that Too Localised is going away as part of the close reason changes. But if we're going to have a replacement, it should be a bit more general case than this, I think.
    – user1027
    Jun 14, 2013 at 14:27
  • Too localized is going away and meta.stackexchange.com/questions/184154/… notes that it's to be replaced with specific "off-topic" reasons. So if it would formerly have been closed as "too localized" then it's at least appropriate to raise it as a potential new "off topic" reason.
    – user8719
    Jun 14, 2013 at 15:28
  • -1 simply because this is "not constructive", not "off topic", independently of whether it should/should not be closed. Jun 14, 2013 at 21:47
  • 1
    @DVK - but please see meta.stackexchange.com/questions/184154/… - "not constructive" is going away too. Have you a better suggestion?
    – user8719
    Jun 15, 2013 at 2:52
  • @mh01 - based on that link (giving 3 replacement options for NC/NARQ), the speculation would IMHO properly be "primarily opinion-based" close reason. The point is that it's NOT off-topic, because once the work is released to the public, that same question will be fully on-topic. I agree that it should still be closed though :) Jun 15, 2013 at 12:01
  • @DVK - "primarily opinion-based" was something I had considered, but I don't think it conveys the intention behind the closure well enough (it's also the case that your objection to "off-topic" would also apply to "primarily opinion-based" as once the work is released it would no longer be so). Having it as an "off-topic" reason would let the asker have more information about specifically why it was closed.
    – user8719
    Jun 17, 2013 at 0:52
  • @mh01 - true. The thing with offtopic is, it can't possibly logically become ontopic. with "opinion based", any firm information on the topic is grounds for reopening Jun 17, 2013 at 1:08
  • Can we reword this one and trap people who ask it? Like, with a TVTropes link? For example, something along the lines of: Question is asking for Wild Mass Guessing
    – Izkata
    Jun 23, 2013 at 4:47

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