Due to the unique nature of Software Recommendations in comparison to the rest of the Stack Exchange network, I feel some discussion needs to go into the creation of close reasons specific to this site.

What is the point of this post?

The issues I want to tackle with this discussion are as follows:

  • Closure reasons should not be intimidating to new users
  • People see "on hold" and this scares them, we want our on hold reasons to help them progress their question to a point where it meets our quality requirements
  • We want the community consensuses we reach on meta during this beta phase (and in future) to be readily available so people can see why we reached that decision

What makes a good close reason?

  • Clear and concise text that advises the asker what to do next
  • Links to meta posts containing guidelines on quality and acceptable subjects
  • Links to meta discussions detailing why we reached those particular consensuses

How should this post be used?

The format I would suggest this discussion takes place in is as follows;

  • One close reason per answer
  • Votes against the close reason indicate the popularity of that suggestion with the community
  • Suggestions and discussions per close reason occurs in the comments below that close reason
  • Improvements should be made to existing close reason suggestions rather than submitting multiple similar close reasons
  • It's a bit early to do a poll on close reasons. This calls more for discussion at this point. My first instict is: one for lacks a purpose; one for lacks specific requirements or not enough requirements; one for not software as we define it. Feb 10, 2014 at 11:10
  • Very well - we can leave this here until more consensus has been reached as to what is actually on and off topic. The framework is in place to deal with it once the time arrives.
    – Flyk
    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:11
  • I totally agree: "Closure reasons should not be intimidating to new users" Martin Fowler wrote a book about over commitment in the usage of Patterns. Sometimes peoples forgot to ask: "is my ideological purpose useful for the thing I'm doing?" In my opinion we should ABSOLUTELY avoid over commitment on the rules. There aren't universally good rules. We should evaluate and ask ourselves if the rules are good for this specific section or for that specific question.
    – Revious
    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:36

6 Answers 6


This question appears to be off-topic because it does not contain enough information to give good recommendations. In particular, questions without a clear outline of features requested are off-topic for this site. For more guidelines on what your question should contain, please see What is required for a question to contain "enough information"?

  • Perhaps "This question does not contain enough information to answer it or does not meet our minimum quality requirements. For guidelines on what your question should contain, please see What is required for a question to contain "enough information"?" Feb 26, 2014 at 20:21
  • Rewrote to adapt after "This question appears to be off-topic because it lacks sufficient information to diagnose the problem" on Stack Overflow.
    – gparyani
    Jun 21, 2014 at 20:41
  • Or, in short: "There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs." That's our "too broad" close-reason, which matches the "not enough information".
    – Izzy Mod
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:10

Questions that solicit discussion or feature comparisons between multiple products rather than asking for recommendations that fit within our clearly defined requirements are off-topic for this site. Instead, describe the exact features you're looking for in your question.

  • See Is tool x versus tool y a fair question? for details on consensus
    – Flyk
    Feb 10, 2014 at 11:04
  • 2
    "This question has been put on hold" is not necessary. The text "This question appears to be off-topic" already appears before the specific reason.
    – gparyani
    Feb 15, 2014 at 6:52
  • "Questions that solicits discussions or feature comparisons between multiple products rather than to fit within clearly defined requirements are off topic." link somewhere.
    – Braiam
    Feb 17, 2014 at 20:54
  • I think it would be preferable to only have one link in the close reason to avoid clutter. As it stands, two is a bit much. It's better to be concise if and where possible. Feb 26, 2014 at 20:30
  • While principially in agreement with @DanteTheEgregore, the "general link" might be "generally included" with all close reasons as kind of a footer. It's title could be re-phrased to "How should a question look like", or "What we consider a good question", for the close reason message.
    – Izzy Mod
    Mar 5, 2014 at 15:07

Requests for hosting providers and services in general, is outside our scope, through we accept asking for applications hosted in the internet (WebApps).

  • Two questions: 1. Are hosting and service requests frequent enough to actually warrant a custom close reason? 2. Is the generic "This question does not appear to be about software recommendations, within the scope defined in the help center." not already comprehensive enough to cover the service/hosting questions that may arise? Mar 5, 2014 at 15:21
  • 2
    @DanteTheEgregore the problem with that generic is that it is too generic, the help center is enourmous and finding what you did wrong instead of being tell upfront is unhelpful in beta stage. There has been enough examples of closures due this reason in previous occasions already (6 to be exact if you count the one that was deleted) so it warrant a custom close reason since others doesn't apply.
    – Braiam
    Mar 5, 2014 at 15:25
  • I'm in agreement then, if, at this stage, six questions have already been closed for this same reason. I do still believe we need to better define as a community what exactly is and isn't a service request by our standards. Mar 5, 2014 at 15:30

I went through the latest 50 closed questions (excluding duplicates and already-deleted ones) and tried to classify them according to why they were closed, to see if common patterns emerged.

General software usage

Potentially SU/Webapps/Android/Apple/… material, but usually too low-quality to migrate.

General programming

Potentially SO or Programmers material, but usually too low-quality to migrate.

Looking for where to download

Programming language



None. (I was a bit surprised, I thought this was more common, but it turns out that this is one of these cases that aren't easy to determine, but don't come up often.)

(Post-scriptum: one just turned up, and I missed a specific close reason.)

Data or data source



Just… what?

Too vague/broad/unclear

Questions that are looking for software recommendations (so not off-topic), but lack essential requirements (e.g. operating system), are too vague, are unclear, etc.

Only 18 questions fall under the “off-topic” heading, and there isn't a big bucket among there that seems to me to warrant a site-specific off-topic reason. I would like to have a custom reason that links to the guidelines, but unfortunately this is not possible.


Questions that ask for hardware shopping recommendations are off-topic for this site because they are often only relevant to the question asker at the time the question was posted and age rapidly. Instead, state the hardware you already have along with your software feature requirement outline. For details, please see Are hardware recommendations on-topic?

  • This close reason is for questions that ask for "What is the best hardware to run this specific software?" I predict that we'll have at least one such question during the life of this site.
    – gparyani
    Jun 20, 2014 at 18:24
  • 1
    While I agree hardware-shopping questions are off-topic, the more important reason to this is the answers are outdated too quickly.
    – Izzy Mod
    Jun 21, 2014 at 20:39
  • In other words, this basically instructs users to change their questions from "What is the best HW to run this specific SW" to "What is the best alternative to SW that runs on this specific HW?" which is on-topic.
    – gparyani
    Jun 27, 2014 at 18:14
  • no. This site is about software, not about "alternatives to software". It's neither about "alternatives to", but about "software to solve a specific problem".
    – Izzy Mod
    Jun 27, 2014 at 19:07
  • @Izzy Software alternatives are permitted as long as the OP specifies exactly what are the features he wants and what the software does. Then he can say that "in other words, I want a good alternative to [software he knows] that can run on my [low-end hardware]". Or should I roll it back?
    – gparyani
    Jun 27, 2014 at 20:21
  • I donno, we could just hit it with a generic OT or custom close reason. This in effect means "OP is too dumb to read the name of the site" Nov 25, 2014 at 21:06

This question is not about software recommendations, within the scope defined in the help center.

  • Covers everything else not already covered here. Adapted after "This question is not about computer hardware or software, within the scope defined in the help center." on Super User.
    – gparyani
    Jun 20, 2014 at 19:08
  • Why the downvote?
    – gparyani
    Jul 17, 2014 at 16:16
  • Far too generic – and besides, this 1) is the default close-reason already established, 2) your link goes to the wrong page, 3) if it would point to the right one: that's exactly our current problem. There is no real definition (yet). // NOTE: Downvotes on Meta are just saying "I disagree". They do not necessarily mean "low quality", just "different opinion".
    – Izzy Mod
    Nov 21, 2014 at 11:59
  • @Izzy "Why the downvote?" means "Why the dissenting opinion?". But you've answered that question now.
    – gparyani
    Nov 21, 2014 at 17:06
  • @Izzy Actually, looking further into it, I posted this answer back before there was a "Blatantly off-topic" option. But if this is too broad, why did Super User go with it?
    – gparyani
    Nov 21, 2014 at 17:08
  • No idea. I'm still missing custom close reasons – and even more I miss what we say is "outlined in our help-center". The latter place we should urgently fill; to me that hint almost feels like a farce.
    – Izzy Mod
    Nov 21, 2014 at 17:36

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