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We have had questions related to this matter here on Meta before (there are probably more that I just don't recall right now). When we added the custom close reason dealing with specifying a relevant jurisdiction for legal questions, it unfortunately removed the possiblity of choosing a generic "this is not about amateur radio" close and flag reason. That can at best be described as an oversight on the part of us moderators at the time.

The site has also now had some time to grow and find its scope, and we have seen examples of different kinds of close-worthy questions.

Let's have an open discussion here. What close reasons do we want or need in addition to those provided by the Stack Exchange network software itself? That is, what options do we want under close -> "Off-topic" and flag -> "Off-topic", aside from migration to another site and custom flag/close reason? If examples of questions that you feel would fit the proposed close reasons exist on the site, it may be worthwhile linking to them as well as examples.

One close reason per answer; please make your answers Community Wiki to lower the bar to improving the suggested close reason texts; and let's see what the community thinks.

Please try to make the suggested close reason texts actionable by a poster. If someone's question is put on hold or closed because of one of these reasons, it should be as clear as possible what they can do to make the question eligible for reopening. We can always reference meta posts elaborating on the reasoning behind the close reason, should a reasonable-length text not suffice.

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  • $\begingroup$ Given that the past questions you cite take the position of not really closing much of anything, and there's even been a question on whether anything should be closed which seems to indicate the consensus is "not really", what do you expect to happen here? $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Jun 23 '14 at 20:50
  • $\begingroup$ @PhilFrost As it stands, we have two questions right on the front page that are closed (or rather, one of them remains "on hold" but I don't see that one being reopened). Out of currently 578 questions on our main site, 46 are closed or on hold (~8%). Similarly, Stack Overflow currently has a close ratio of 333K out of 7.52M questions (~4.4% closed), and Server Fault 12K/176K or ~7% closed. This should represent a validly sized sample from which to draw suggestions on what off topic close reasons would be helpful to have. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 24 '14 at 7:42
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I'll give some general advice on these. This is not a close reason, just some general advice on using them.

They should be need-driven

It's very tempting to be preemptive with these, because you can often reasonably predict the kinds of questions that you'll probably not want. However, try to wait until you've got a real-world lingering problem that one of these could address. Sites only get a few of these, so they should definitely be reserved for when closing of a certain type of question becomes a repetitive, incessant task.

Every word in them should count

Have you ever managed to condense a paragraph into two sentences? That's basically what these need to be. We've found that anything longer than 1.5 - 2 sentences isn't likely to be read. That's less important if the type of question you're addressing could not possibly be made to fit, because there's no additional guidance or action for the user. If you're closing something that could conceivably be re-opened after some editing, then make those first two sentences as informative as possible. The first should be the why, explain as succinctly as you can what's wrong with the question. The second should be the what, as in what they can do to fix it.

Ideally, the what conveys a gist while offering a link to more details, because (again), people don't like to read lots of things when they just want to ask a question.

Monitor Their Usage

This is something for both users and moderators to do. Watch closely how folks use the close reasons, and make sure it's how you thought it was intended. If you see things deviating, it's time to make some noise about it here on meta. Don't rely on new users to protest closings that they don't agree with - it's just as easy for them to find some other site.

Moderators should also keep an eye on how often these reasons are used, and consider pruning reasons that don't see a considerable amount of light any longer. We can run some queries at their request and provide them with the data, we're also working on something that lets them see this without having to request it.


With all that said, Amateur Radio is probably one of the friendliest sites in the network, you folks do an amazing job of figuring out what everyone wants to talk about and seeing if it'll work within reason. That's how you build an engaged community, and I'm sure you all will make sparing, but judicious use out of these.

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This question asks for recommendations for specific products, services, software, or electronic designs, which are off-topic as they attract opinionated rather than comprehensive answers. Please consider rephrasing your question in terms of what you should be looking for given your use case or whether a specific product has the capability you need.


Rationale:

We get questions like this. We generally agree they're bad. They're not getting closed. Having a standard reason will help get them the close votes they need.

I've made sure to include the standard advice on asking a better question (ask what you should be looking for, not directly for products) and also mentioned asking a concrete question about a product.

I also included “software” and “electronic designs” to help make it clear that this isn't about buying things, and because “What's a simple design I can build” is a thing we get.


Improvements:

"Given your use case" is clunky; please improve.

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This question does not appear to be about amateur radio and is outside the scope defined in the help center.


Rationale:

This is the general “this is completely off-topic” close reason. It also applies to questions about things like "Internet radio” (not actually radio despite the name), and questions specific to other radio services such as broadcasting.


Improvements:

It would be nice to make it more actionable, as suggested, but all I came up with was “Questions about radio technology … Electrical Engineering or Signal Processing.” which doesn't really help as questions which would be on-topic those places are more likely to be (marginally) on-topic.

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  • $\begingroup$ Looking over the closed questions we've had, nearly all of them are too-broad/unclear/subjective and not really off-topic. I think that just a generally-off-topic close reason, which includes an indication of the scope of the site, will satisfy most of our current needs. (The wording I've put in is also a little opinionated about what I think the scope of the site should be...) $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 23 '14 at 17:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, this is one that is hard to make actionable. Still, I think we do need some sort of "catch-all" off-topic reason, so people don't have to come up with their own all the time. Your proposal might well be a good start; I took the liberty of editing it slightly. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 23 '14 at 17:45
  • $\begingroup$ This is unactionable and arbitrary. Who decides what is "of interest to radio amateurs"? And is that Radio Amateurs, as in, the Amateur Service, or just amateurs doing stuff with radios? I proposed citing part 97 "basis and purpose" as a better defined scope, but I guess it wasn't too popular. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Jun 23 '14 at 20:44
  • $\begingroup$ To be clear, I would support a close reason that explains to people that this site is about Amateur Radio (the service, as set forth by the ITU, FCC, etc), but this close reason is not that. This is just, "this question is off topic because five people thought it was boring". $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Jun 23 '14 at 20:45
  • $\begingroup$ You're right, it's too arbitrary. The problem is that our scope is not concretely defined; once it is, we can have the close reason say what it is (or defer to the help center which says what it is, as the default single off-topic wording does). $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 23 '14 at 20:48
  • $\begingroup$ I have revised the wording to remove the subjectivity, assuming that we in fact edit the help center to define our scope. (This is slightly changed from the standard generic off-topic in that I say "and"; this is in order to allow the scope to permit things that are not literally part of the amateur radio service (as I understand there is a weak consensus to allow some such things). $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 23 '14 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ What would be proposed for the help center, then? I still think part 97 as linked above is a good start. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Jun 24 '14 at 0:39
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    $\begingroup$ I think the official site scope would best be discussed as a separate meta question. (I generally agree that taking the definition from regulations to start with is appropriate, but I'm reluctant to start with Part 97 just for avoiding US-centrism, and I'm not familiar with what the ITU (or IARU) have to say.) $\endgroup$ – Kevin Reid AG6YO Jun 24 '14 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with @KevinReidAG6YO, we should avoid referencing specific national regulations unless the asker specifies that they are subjected to those regulations (which cannot be the case with close reasons or the help center). The international regulations surrounding amateur radio would be a better start, but we have also already established that certain non-amateur-radio discussions can be on topic as well. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 24 '14 at 8:56
  • $\begingroup$ The preamble of part 97 isn't regulations: it's a statement of intent and purpose. I don't think using it as a starting point is some kind of sin. It's a lot better than nothing, which is what we have now. $\endgroup$ – Phil Frost - W8II Jun 24 '14 at 12:18

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