Since I obtained closing priviledges and can thus use custom close reasons, I find myself typing the following sentence on a daily basis (and before, I flagged questions to which this would have applied regularly):

This question appears to be off-topic because it is about the content of an academic discipline and not about academia itself.

It thus seems to be useful to me to have a predefined close reason for such cases which then can also be used to give the askers some help at hand where to ask their question (if at all).

3 Answers 3


Personally, I am in favor of rethinking all of our close reasons. Some are underutilized, some are badly misutilized, and there are some that I think are conspicuously missing.

I think we should start a CW thread here on meta in which each answer has:

  • proposed text of a custom close reason
  • a description of the kind of questions it would apply to
  • some examples to demonstrate the need for this close reason
  • links to any discussion threads on meta relevant to this close reason.

We can post the existing current close reasons, as well as any new ones that people would like to propose. Upvotes on the answers (after a sufficiently long period for discussion) could indicate which close reasons the community currently finds most important and applicable.

Also, if we want to request an additional custom close reason, the meta thread I'm proposing would position us to do so. The SE team likes to see discussion on site meta and demonstrated need before approving such requests.

  • I think such a CW question would be useful, but it might be cleaner if each answer/close reason had an associated discussion question to hash out issues.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 7:24
  • 1
    @StrongBad The existing ones (and some proposed new ones) already have such one or more discussion threads that could link to, new threads could be raised for brand new close reasons as needed.
    – ff524
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 7:27
  • @StrongBad see edit :)
    – ff524
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 7:28

We can only have 3 custom off-topic close reasons. They are currently:

Questions that cannot be generalized to apply to others in similar situations are off-topic. For assistance in writing questions that can apply to multiple people facing similar situations, see: What kinds of questions are too localized?

Questions about problems facing undergraduate students are off-topic unless they can also apply to graduate or post-graduate academicians as described in What topics can I ask about here?

This question appears to be off-topic because it seems to seek specific advice for a very specific situation, and it's likely that only someone with a good understanding of your situation will be able to provide an objectively correct answer.

So if you want a new reasons, it comes at the cost of deleting one of the current reasons (or begging the SE team to create more for us). The first and third close reasons are similar, but a previous discussion suggested we liked it that way. At that time, there was no proposed third custom reason, so it might be worth revisiting that discussion. While it would be desirable to know the usage of the custom close reasons, usage data are unavailable.

  • I see, I thought that restriction only applied to Betas.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 16:12
  • 1
    The first and third reason seem somewhat redundant, though. But that’s indeed another topic altogether.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 16:14
  • I agree... I don't think I use #1 very frequently. @StrongBad, can you supply statistics on how often the three custom reasons are used?
    – jakebeal
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 16:16
  • As I stated in StrongBad's post, I'd happily ditch the "undergraduate-specific" tag. Make people who want to close enter it in manually.
    – aeismail
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 17:42
  • 1
    Rethinking the situation, custom close reasons do not only serve to have more informative messages and making closing easier; they also reduce unnecessary discussion by saying “Look, we have a predefined close reason and a discussion thread etc.” Therefore, as the closures of the questions we are talking about here are rarely disputed, I would not prefer to ditch any of the existing close reasons for the proposed one. (I am fine with a fourth reason, however.)
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 7, 2015 at 19:35
  • 2
    "We can only have 3 custom off-topic close reasons." Well, until we get more: according to the links you provided, some other sites have more than 3. (YMMV, but I am of the opinion that if a site about ubuntu is broad enough to have 4, a site about academia certainly should be.) I don't think it's a question of "begging": why not just ask for it? Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 5:22
  • @PeteL.Clark that is an interesting point. I think you are right that there may be an easy argument to make based on breadth. I was thinking in terms of number of questions where we are clearly small.
    – StrongBad
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 7:21

I suggest for the text of the close reason:

Questions about the content of an academic discipline are off-topic here. They may be on-topic on a Stack Exchange site pertaining to that discipline, though.

  • 1
    There are SE sites relevant to academic disciplines besides for the ones in the science section, e.g. Quantitative Finance, History, Signal Processing and Data Science, etc. I think it would be better to just link to stackexchange.com/sites
    – ff524
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 7:48
  • I chose all science sites as some sort of trade-off, because it is applicable to most such questions in my experience and at the same time not overwhelming the user with 300 sites to find the right one from.
    – Wrzlprmft Mod
    Commented Jan 8, 2015 at 14:40

You must log in to answer this question.

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