About a year ago, the post notices on closed questions changed across the entire SE platform. This changed a number of aspects of the Q&A engine software's behaviour and how it communicates meta information about threads to different classes of users, but one particularly important change is that for a wide class of users (specifically, people who are not logged in, and users under 3k rep), the closure notice on off-topic questions looks like this:

That is, post closure notices became completely uninformative regarding the reason about why the question was closed. This is actively harmful, as it stops us from informing newcomers about what questions are off-topic and why, and from directing them to the resources that can help them get a good experience of the site.

Now, as it turns out, the reason for this is that the software's behaviour has been improved, as explained by Catija on Meta Stack Overflow $-$ the software now supports the ability to show different closure reasons to different populations:

More specifically, instead of having a single text associated with the closure reason, the software now allows a detailed breakdown as follows:

  • A usage guidance text, shown in the Vote To Close interface.
  • A public message, shown to <3k-rep users and non-logged-in visitors.
  • A message shown specifically to the question owner.
  • A message shown to >3k-rep users.

As such, this presents a call to action to restore the site's functionality, as well as an opportunity to improve how we communicate our site's scope to visitors and newcomers. I would thus propose that we take on the following tasks:

  • For moderators: ask the developer/CM team (on the moderator Teams?) whether these changes can be implemented for the existing closure reasons, or whether we need to make new ones.
  • For moderators: fill in the existing text into all the fields for the various closure reasons.
  • For the community: find better ways in which the closure banner can be customized when shown to question owners and the general public.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Thanks for doing this. As for implementation: once a close reason has been used, it has to be replaced rather than edited, but old ones can be reactivated. Also (to my fellow mods) a new close reason can’t be created unless there’s a spot for it, so there is a brief interval during the transition where there is no homework-like close reason. These two features startled me last year when I realized, while editing the new reason, that the proposed text in a Meta answer had its links in the footnote-format and actually had too many characters to fit. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 15:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ To proposed answerers: see this closed meta question for hopefully-self-documenting examples of how the different close reasons look to different audiences. $\endgroup$
    – rob Mod
    Commented Dec 3, 2020 at 16:02

1 Answer 1


Let's kick things off with the most important one - the homework close reason, which currently reads

Homework-like questions and check-my-work questions are considered off-topic here, particularly when asking about specific computations instead of underlying physics concepts. Homework questions can be on-topic when they are useful to a broader audience. If you intend to modify your question, please read the links above carefully before editing. Note that answers with complete solutions may be deleted!

As a starting point, I would propose the following:

  • The usage guidance in the closure interface:

    This is a homework-like question or a check-my-work question focused on a specific computation instead of the underlying physics concepts.

    though maybe this can be expanded with something like

    (Please point the asker to the guidance on Meta, and make sure the question is tagged appropriately.)

  • The post notice to general visitors, which also appears above the more specific guidance for the post owner and high-rep users:

    Homework-like questions and check-my-work questions are considered off-topic here, particularly when asking about specific computations instead of underlying physics concepts. Homework questions can be on-topic when they are useful to a broader audience. Note that answers to homework questions with complete solutions may be deleted!

  • The post notice to the question owner:

    Your question can be reopened if suitably edited to ask about the underlying concepts — please read the links above carefully to learn how.

  • The post notice to >3k-rep users:

    Please help the asker edit the question so that it asks about the underlying physics concepts instead of specific computations. If there are any complete answers, please flag them for moderator attention.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Looks good to me. But whatever wording we finally do adopt, I humbly request that the first word in the usage guidances in the closure interface not be a link (like it current is for "homework-like" ). It's just too close to the radio button, so half the time when trying to hit that radio button on my phone I end up clicking the link instead. Your version above would prevent that annoyance. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Dec 5, 2020 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ @PM2Ring I haven't tested it on mobile but on the desktop site you can click anywhere on the notice belonging to a radio button to toggle it, you don't need to click on the button itself. Does mobile behave differently here? $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 17:52
  • $\begingroup$ @ACuriousMind Ah, that seems to work ok on mobile. :) Thanks. I just need to remember to avoid clicking on the button... $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 17:55
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Since there weren't any objections to this, this change is now live. $\endgroup$
    – ACuriousMind Mod
    Commented Dec 26, 2020 at 16:02

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