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Statistical background

The following is extracted from the question close stats (10 k only).

In the last three months:

  • the undergraduate close reason¹ was used 18 times (that’s only about 3 % of all closures).
  • 84 questions were closed with a custom close reason (i.e., typed by the close voter). This includes:
    • 21 close reasons that indicate that the question is about the subject of an academic discipline and not about academia itself
    • at least 39 instances of blanket close reasons like: “This is not about academia.”

Proposal

Let’s replace the undergraduate close reason¹ with a more general out of scope reason. Instead of the standard phrasing for such a close reason², the latter shall also explicitly mention common cases and provide helpful links (as possible within the 400 available characters), for example:

  • questions about the subject of an academic discipline,
  • questions about non-academic education,
  • questions specific to undergraduate students.

The detailed phrasing shall be addressed in answers to this question.

Note that we have only three slots for custom close reasons available. As all of these are currently used, introducing a new close reason requires abolishing an existing one.

Does this mean a change of our scope?

Canned close reasons mostly exist to streamline close voting and to leave helpful information for the asker. They do not define our scope. Should this proposal be accepted, the kind of undergraduate questions that is off-topic now will still be off-topic – close voters may just have to type this reason themselves.


¹ which is as follows:

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?

² which would be:

This question does not appear to be about academia, within the scope defined in the help center.

  • I don't have hard data to back me up. But, I do know that people(others and myself) sometimes voted to close questions like, Which university should I choose ... as shopping questions. They probably should have been closed by undergraduate only reason. Also, there were some question, like my SAT score is ..., can I go to MIT? I remember we closed them as individual factors. I think 3% is a bit too low for the actual number. But, in general, I support your proposal. – scaaahu Jul 25 '17 at 5:02
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    @scaahu Good points, but I think in addition to your personal support for the proposal, the points you raise are also in support, because it suggests that a lot of the types of questions we get here that are undergraduate-specific also already have other appropriate close reasons, which further suggests that undergraduate-specific need not be a specific close reason all by itself. The 3% seems valid after all. – Bryan Krause Jul 25 '17 at 20:49
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As a wording for the new close reason, I propose:

This question is not within the scope of this site as defined in the help center. Our scope particularly excludes the content of research, education outside of a university setting, and problems only faced by undergraduate students.

Note that unless I am very much mistaken, this can be implemented adhering to the character limit (400) by replacing the help-centre link with [help].

  • If anybody has better suggestions for Meta posts to be linked, I am open to them. – Wrzlprmft Jul 24 '17 at 8:26
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    I don't like "non-academic education" - "education outside of a university setting" is better (I think), although I don't know if that takes us over character limit – ff524 Jul 24 '17 at 14:01
  • @ff524: It would work, but how about non-university education? – Wrzlprmft Jul 24 '17 at 14:05
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    It's OK, but personally, I prefer the emphasis on setting, because with "non-university education" it is not clear whether questions about learning university-level content outside of a university setting is on topic. (e.g. "I am teaching myself university-level physics at home, and...") – ff524 Jul 24 '17 at 14:36
  • @ff524: Good point; edited. – Wrzlprmft Jul 24 '17 at 14:43
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As I argued in the question What kind of undergraduate questions are not really generalizable to graduate education? (An "Academia varies more than you think" perspective), the boundary between problems faced by undergraduate students and those faced by graduate ones is not universally well defined.

About a year ago I wrote that question because I had the feeling that the undergraduate close reason was frequently misused without really taking into account the variability of academia and the advice given in the highest voted answer to the question Why does AC.SE exclude undergraduate students?

As shown by the stats reported by Wrzlprmft, the undergraduate close reason is now a small fraction of all closures: for this reason and for the risk of misusing it, I propose to remove the undergraduate close reason altogether.

By slightly shortening Wrzlprmft's proposal, I suggest:

This question is not within the scope of this site as defined in the help center. Our scope particularly excludes the content of research and education outside of a university setting.

Further, I suggest to change the text in the help center, by removing the sentence

Undergraduate-specific issues that could not apply to graduate or post-graduate academicians

and substituting it with a short, more specific, list of undergraduate-specific issues that we consider not generalizable (at the moment, the only proposal was Strong Bad's).

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