Sometimes we receive GIS programming questions which are difficult to answer because it lacks explanation about the problem and reproducible examples.

When that happens, we could quickly provide accurate feedback to the OP with a custom close reason, expecting the question to be edited and reopened with better level of quality. The custom message would be equal to StackOverflow's:

Questions seeking debugging help ("why isn't this code working?") must include the desired behavior, a specific problem or error and the shortest code necessary to reproduce it in the question itself. Questions without a clear problem statement are not useful to other readers. See: How to create a Minimal, Complete, and Verifiable example.

Can we have the above close reason embedded in the close dialog box?

flag --> should be closed --> off-topic --> new close reason.
  • Wouldn't this already fall under the 'unclear what you're asking' close reason? Needing more detail doesn't really seem like 'off-topic' to me, though I understand that might be our only choice of heading/category for custom reasons.
    – Chris W
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:02
  • 1
    I believe it would address a recurrent category of unclear questions, hence justifying its own close reason (which I also see as a custom guidance for helping the OP to improve such questions). @ChrisW. Jul 17, 2015 at 0:28
  • I don't disagree and think your custom reason would be useful. I just wish it could be under a different category than 'off-topic'. Say, if unclear was like off-topic with a few custom reasons under it - yours, 'you did not specify what software or data you were using', and perhaps something else. It's the trade-off between a few broad/generic close reasons that cover many situations, and a potentially lot of more specific but perhaps more helpful reasons to quickly choose from rather custom. I do note initial close vote/flag has fewer options than the review queue in some cases.
    – Chris W
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:38
  • 1
    With both question (7 up, 0 down) and its only answer (3 up, 0 down) both in agreement, I have proceeded to implement with the assent of two other moderators and the dissent of no moderators. It may be of interest to know that the technical process of approving a new custom close reason requires the approval of another moderator besides the moderator who submits it.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 23, 2015 at 22:06

1 Answer 1


I agree strongly that this would be a useful Custom Off-topic Close Reason.

However, something to bear in mind is that we only have three Custom Off-topic Close Reasons available to set (which we can do as moderators).

Consequently, for this to be implemented we will also need consensus on which of the current three Custom Off-topic Close Reasons will be deactivated.

  1. Questions about software development are off-topic here unless they relate directly to Geographical Information Systems, but they can be asked on Stack Overflow.
  2. Questions describing a problem that can't be reproduced and seemingly went away on its own (or went away when a typo was fixed) are off-topic as they are unlikely to help future readers.
  3. Questions about general computing hardware and software are off-topic here, but can be asked on Super User.

I would like to see 1. and 3. above combined into:

  1. Questions relating to general Information Technology with no clear GIS component are off-topic here, but can be asked at Stack Overflow (software development), Super User (computing hardware and software) and Database Administrators (relational databases)

This would leave 3. free for your proposal.

I would also like to overhaul the wording of 2. but I think we should discuss that in a subsequent Q&A.

  • Can we ask the SE dev team to expand room in the close dialog? I believe it is technically possible, because SO has 5 custom long close reasons. Jul 16, 2015 at 22:30
  • @AndreSilva You are free to, and there is already a Meta SE question proposing just that. Personally, I can cope with three (if we use them wisely) and would not like to see more than five. I don't have the SO rep to test whether they already have 5 so will take your word for it. Meta AskUbuntu has a relevant Q&A too.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 16, 2015 at 22:37
  • I thought this could be done with a talk between a mod and a dev, but if it needs meta posts it is not that simple. Jul 16, 2015 at 22:50
  • 1
    @AndreSilva There are a LOT of mods and relatively few devs so the only practical way to communicate on feature requests is via Meta SE where the case can be made by the SE community rather than just a mod of one or two sites.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 16, 2015 at 23:01
  • I'd support combining 1 and 3 if there aren't length restrictions that prohibited that in the first place. Regardless of whether we need to free up a slot or not.
    – Chris W
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:03
  • @ChrisW If we can get broad consensus then I think we should be able to shoe horn in my proposed wording for 1. into the 400 characters available. I'm not sure if that 400 includes the links, but at least they are relatively short links.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:15
  • Of course I can't say for sure, but I do know link characters count against comments so I would guess they do. However there are some shortcuts, especially for other SE sites: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/104305 In theory these should work [so] Stack Overflow / [su] Super User.
    – Chris W
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:22
  • @ChrisW If we get to implement I'll try those magic links and [dba.se] first but even their longer forms are not too bad.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 17, 2015 at 0:24
  • @ChrisW The magic links worked and the text entry for custom close reasons seems to be identical to what can be entered for comments.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jul 23, 2015 at 22:11

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