I have sometimes wondered if it wouldn't make sense to be able to close questions just because they are either too unimportant (asking for very, very minor things like e.g. "Should I have put a question mark at the end of the subject line on an email inquiring about a position?", things along these lines sometimes get asked) or that are really, really easy to find out just by googling the thing (e.g. this very recent question which definitely took longer to write than a quick web search for the same issue would have taken).

Basically, I wonder if it would make sense to have a close reason for questions being to trivial/minor etc.?

2 Answers 2


Let me try to factorize this into two questions:

Can we add a new pre-defined close reason?

My understanding is that there are only 3 slots for pre-defined close reasons. These are already taken by: shopping, individual factors, and out-of-scope. It's possible to replace one of these with a more important reason, but I think that's unlikely.

But these pre-defined close reasons are only there for convenience; those are not the only reasons questions can be closed. You can use the "other" option to specify any other reason.

Should we use the custom reason to vote-to-close trivial/minor questions?

I don't believe we have ever achieved a firm policy here. There is one view that if the internet already contains many sites that explain a simple concept, we don't need to rehash the ground here. The alternative view is that our site should be self-contained; if the question is valid, we should answer it once and then we have an internal duplicate target for future.

Beyond that, I suspect it would be difficult to quantify "trivial." Many of the questions here seem trivial to me (to quote one of my favorite comments: "There are so many questions on here like, 'how do I tell someone I don't want to wibble?', and the answer is simply to say, 'Hey Joe, I don't want to wibble'"), and yet go on to incite significant discussions. So my inclination is to leave such matters to the voters. But that's just my opinion; people with the close vote privilege can use it as they see fit, within reason.

  • 1
    I had a good laugh when reading the quoted comment, thanks for sharing! and thanks for the answer, you are probably right.
    – Sursula
    Mar 20 at 9:00

If you mouseover the downvote button, the text reads:

This question does not show any research effort; it is unclear or not useful

I would think about whether this description fits the trivial question asked. For your given example, I think it does. MLA, like other popular style guides, has numerous resources to help with using the guide as well as the official guide/manual itself. Someone asking a question like this here has not, in my opinion, shown any research effort. It's certainly possible to ask a good, well-researched question about MLA: I'd expect the asker to show their research effort by, say, identifying what seems to be the most relevant entry in the MLA style manual and explaining why their situation does not fit the format or examples given.

So, in summary, I don't think we need a close reason for these questions, we can use the downvote button instead. The problem is not that the question is off-topic, the problem is that the asker has not put in enough effort to identify the specific question they have. You might point the asker to https://academia.stackexchange.com/help/how-to-ask in a comment, though this is optional. The first item reads:

Have you thoroughly searched for an answer before asking your question? Sharing your research helps everyone. Tell us what you found and why it didn’t meet your needs. This demonstrates that you’ve taken the time to try to help yourself, it saves us from reiterating obvious answers, and above all, it helps you get a more specific and relevant answer!

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