1

This is a post.
Upvoting it means you agree with the proposal.
Downvoting it means you disagree with the proposal.
You can answer or comment if you want, but you don't need to.


Currently, when you notice that a question is off-topic because it is not about Italian language and so you want to vote to close it, you have to go trough the following menu and choose "A community-specific reason":

Close question window

This is the window that then appears:

Close question community-specific window

As you can see, at present there's no option in the above menu to say that the question is not about Italian language. So you are forced to pick the "Other - add a comment" option and manually type a comment to explain that the question is off-topic because it's not about Italian language.

Since currently we are only using two of the three available "community-specific close reasons", my proposal would be to use the remaining free one to add the following close reason:

This question is not about Italian language as described in What topics can I ask about here?

This will add an extra option in the above menu that will appear just before the "This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network" and "Other - add a comment" options.

As one user have asked it, I've checked the questions closed or locked in the last 5 months to see the reason for closure: 7 were blatantly off-topic (they were asking about programming, configuring electronic devices and English language; 2 of these blatantly off-topic questions contained a link that was identified as possible spam and for this reason were locked before being closed), 1 was opinion-based, 1 was homework without any effort, 1 was a translation request, 1 was about the interpretation of a song, 1 was "unclear what you're asking" and 3 were duplicates. In addition to this, one other question has been voted to close it as off-topic, but it was deleted by a moderator before closing it because it contained an illegal request.

In my opinion, this change would make easier the task of closing questions that are blatantly off-topic.


Alternative wordings for this new close reason

You are invited to propose an alternative wording for this close reason by editing this post.

(If we decide to implement this change, we can later decide which is the best wording.)

  • This question is not about Italian language (without any link)
  • This a question that is not about Italian language
  • This is not a question about Italian language
  • What you are asking in this question is not about Italian language
  • ...
  • ...
| |
  • Every SE site could use This question's topic is not one of the allowed topics reported in What topics can I ask about here? as closing reason, but for what I can see, none of them use it. It's a too broad closing reason. – kiamlaluno Jun 17 at 22:01
  • @kiamlaluno: Spanish.SE has exactly the same close reason I'm proposing here since about two years ago (changing the Italian word with Spanish, of course). I don't know about other SE sites: I don't have enough reputation to vote to close in other SE sites. Notice that the wording I'm proposing says "it's not about Italian language", not "topic is not one of the allowed topics reported in ...". – Charo Jun 18 at 5:27
  • But the suggested closing reason still says as described in What topics can I ask about here? In the site I moderate, that would be equivalent to This question is not about Drupal as described in What topics can I ask about here? It's a too broad closing reason which includes any topic the linked page defines as off-topic. If Stack Exchange sites had that closing reason, none of them would require three or more community closing reasons, since that would cover all of them. – kiamlaluno Jun 18 at 8:40
  • There must be a reason why Stack Overflow has 5 community closing reasons and other sites can ask to have more community closing reasons. I know it's too tempting to have a closing reason that includes everything the Help Center defines as off-topic, but that is not the way to go. – kiamlaluno Jun 18 at 8:43
  • @kiamlaluno: The exact wording of the closing reason can be changed if we think that there is an alternative better way to express it. The purpose is to have a closing reason for questions that are not about Italian, so they are blatantly off-topic. – Charo Jun 18 at 8:57
  • 1
    Then the proposal needs to use a more specific sentence. I guess everybody agrees with closing questions that aren't about Italian (the language). (I hope nobody wants to make the site a place where to ask about the weather in Italy, or Italian fashion.) The matter is defining exactly what the closing reason should say, not the idea. – kiamlaluno Jun 18 at 9:23
  • @kiamlaluno: As I've said, I copied the sentence from the one that appears in Spanish.SE. I've modified the question to add an invitation to try to reword it. – Charo Jun 18 at 9:33
2

Disagree. I used to have the same opinion, but now after interacting on SE a little more I think that it is better as it is.

The reason is that on-topic / off-topic is often not a self-evident matter. People rarely come here and ask completely off-topic questions about, say, quantum physics or the Russian language or dog breeding. Typically they ask something that might seem about Italian but it is off-topic once you think harder about it: for instance because it is really about Italian culture or history, or about an English construct that they consider only when they have to translate it.

So even if a question is off-topic, this is often not self-evident by itself; especially, not to OP, otherwise they would not have posted it here.

So "your question is not about Italian language" by itself is a poor message; when we close questions we need to give a quick explanation with a motivation for our judgment calls. And that's exactly what the other close reasons are for. In particular, if the pre-canned messages do not do the job, there is Other - add a comment.

| |
  • 1
    I see your point and I must admit that what I had in mind when I thought about this proposal were essentially questions that are blatantly off-topic such as this one (that I decided to close because it was receiving answers) or this one (these questions are now deleted so they can only be viewed by users that have at least 2000 reputation points). – Charo Jun 13 at 18:58
  • And I have to say that Spanish.SE has this close reason since about two years ago (they decided to add this close reason after a consultation with the community in their Meta site): since lately I have been voting to close some questions on that site, it seemed to me that I missed this reason when I last voted to close a question as off-topic on Italian.SE. – Charo Jun 13 at 19:12
  • Note that my proposal doesn't eliminate the "Other - add a comment" option from the menu: I have tried to make this more explicit in the question. I agree that in some cases it would be better to use the "Other - add a comment" option, but this will still be possible. – Charo Jun 13 at 20:04
  • 1
    (1) How many blatantly off-topic questions do we get that this needs one of the 2-3 slots available for custom reasons? (2) I don't care if "other" stays; my point is that having a catch-all pre-canned reason encourages you to be lazy and avoid explanations. – Federico Poloni Jun 14 at 7:28
  • @Charo Another thing that strikes me as peculiar in your comment is the habit to delete closed questions. Do we really get so many that they would clutter the homepage if they simply stayed closed? Deleted questions are (almost) impossible to find for regular users. I think that this custom goes against transparency. – Federico Poloni Jun 14 at 7:34
  • I haven't deleted any closed question: they are automatically deleted by the system. – Charo Jun 14 at 7:36
  • @Charo No, it says on top of the page that they were deleted by egreg. I believe automatic deletions are not attributed to a specific user in that way. – Federico Poloni Jun 14 at 7:37
  • 2
    @FedericoPoloni It doesn't happen all that often, but many people seem to misunderstand this site for "Stackoverflow in Italian" and ask programming questions in Italian. They are usually deleted quickly by a moderator (since they have no value whatsoever). Do you think we should just close them? – Denis Nardin Jun 14 at 8:05
  • @DenisNardin I was worried that the same fate could have happened to some questions that are less clearly off-topic (for instance this search returns fewer closed questions than usual in the past months), but reviewing the recently closed questions I do not see anything worrying that happened in the past month. – Federico Poloni Jun 14 at 8:11
  • @FedericoPoloni: We really have relatively few off-topic questions. What I have observed lately is that it has become really difficult that a question receives closing votes by different (non-moderators) users. In my opinion, ideally questions should be closed by the votes of the community, without the intervention of a moderator. But, for some reason, this has become extremely difficult. So, the aim of my proposal is to make easier this task to users. – Charo Jun 14 at 8:17
  • @FedericoPoloni In the last month, five questions were deleted: two by the post author, one by “Community”, one by me (the question in English about the English language) and one was spam. Does this qualify as “habit”? Going back one more month, I see only one question deleted by a moderator (a question on programming). – egreg Jun 14 at 8:19
  • @FedericoPoloni: Even if a moderator do not delete these questions, they will finish deleted by the system, as it has happened to this one and many others. – Charo Jun 14 at 8:25
  • 2
    As regards deleting off-topic questions, my concern is the opposite of the one expressed in one of the comments above: I sometimes wonder why they are not deleted. Leaving them around implicitly encourages answering or at least commenting to them (which, I believe, is possible also when they are closed). Nothing is gained by leaving them around, and they might contribute to confuse other users. – DaG Jun 14 at 10:16
  • 1
    "A community-specific reason > other" can be used from any user with a reputation higher than 3000, so far. I would rather use that, for questions that aren't on-topic because they aren't asking a question about Italian. – kiamlaluno Jun 17 at 13:18
  • 1
    @kiamlaluno: I can check this easily on Spanish.SE, where my reputation is much more lower: it's the way I've explained (they are not in Beta anymore, but they have not raised the reputation thresholds for the different privileges). – Charo Jun 18 at 9:10
2

Agree. Even if – luckily – blatantly off-topic questions are not that frequent, they keep appearing. Some of the other closure/deletion reasons are not very frequently used too, but it is useful to have them around.

As to the possibility of being overzealous or too strict in considering some question as off-topic, that's exactly why we have moderators. It's not as if it were a fully automatic process, where one or few closure votes could make a question disappear forever.

| |
  • I've checked the last 5 months: we have indeed had much more blatantly off-topic questions than questions that had to be closed for other community-specific reasons. I've add this information to the question. – Charo Jun 18 at 8:52

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .