All close reasons are going to be significantly changed in the very near future, and we're getting the ability to define our own off-topic subreasons.

There is one extremely obvious close reason that by far outnumbers any other close reason, and that is our requirement to show notability. So this is one off-topic sub reason we should write in any case.

I'm not sure if we need more at the moment, anything else I could come up with applies only to a very small number of questions and probably doesn't deserve a predefined close reason. But if you can think of anything, just mention it here.

What we still need is an exact text for the close reason, just put your suggestions into an answer to this post.

  • Note that you only get to choose three. This was a challenge on SA.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jun 22, 2013 at 20:14
  • OOoh! It has started! The new functionality seems to be here.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Jun 26, 2013 at 7:09

8 Answers 8


Unanswerable question

Questions on Skeptics Stack Exchange must be answerable with hard facts. This question asks about intimate motivations, or is a purely philosophical question, or a question of faith.

Questions such as these are explicitly off topic on this site.


No Claim

According to the help center, Skeptics Stack Exchange is for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read.

This question doesn't appear to have any doubtful claims to investigate. Please edit it to reference a notable claim and flag for moderator attention to re-open (or get 5 re-open votes).

  • "doubtful claims" seems a bit awkward. What about: "This question doesn't appear to have a specific claim to be examined."
    – user5582
    Jun 23, 2013 at 19:15
  • I think the title needs to better fit in the sentence "Closed as [reason] by [people]."
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Jun 25, 2013 at 8:05
  • I was just thinking we need a "Poorly Defined" close-flag/downvote-reason. (Which I think is basically the same as this one)
    – hunter2
    Jul 8, 2013 at 12:35

Not notable

This question doesn't ask about a notable claim - i.e. a statement that is believed, or at least has been heard, by a large number of people.

To allow this question to be addressed, please add a reference to examples where the claim has been made, and a direct quote of the claim. This allows us to focus our efforts and quickly clear up misunderstandings.

  • I support this, but think that "statement of doubtful fact" is a weird phrase. What about "i.e. a claim that is believed, or at least has been heard, by a large number of people", or "i.e. a statement that is believed, or at least has been heard, by a large number of people".
    – user5582
    Jun 25, 2013 at 15:54
  • Also, remember that there will be a new status called "on-hold", so talking about re-opening might not apply in all cases.
    – user5582
    Jun 25, 2013 at 22:07
  • 1
    @Sancho: Re: on-hold. Thanks, I have tweaked the wording to avoid "re-opened".
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Jun 26, 2013 at 0:25
  • @Sancho: Re: "statement of a doubtful fact" I am pondering that. I used 'statement' rather than 'claim' to provide redundancy for English-as-a-second-language posters. Unnecessary? I used 'doubtful' over 'dubious' for similar reasons. I wanted to emphasize that there generally needs to be an explicit statement. Asking "are jelly beans dangerous?" isn't enough, even though it is dubious. Someone needs to have said, for example, "Jelly beans cause acne."
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Jun 26, 2013 at 1:36
  • Thanks. What do you think about rephrasing it to "i.e. a statement that is believed, or at least has been heard, by a large number of people."?
    – user5582
    Jun 26, 2013 at 13:53
  • @Sancho: To be honest, I don't think it is an improvement, but I couldn't vocalise my objection, which probably means it is a poor one. So, I changed it anyway.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Jun 26, 2013 at 14:25

Too Broad

Questions on Skeptics are are expected to challenge a single notable and defined claim, this question appear to touch on several different claims or wishes to examine a whole field.

Please consider breaking the question into several different question, each with a single claim, or choose one claim and asking about it.

  • "too broad" is already a default close reason after the change, so we don't need to define it again
    – Mad Scientist Mod
    Jun 26, 2013 at 7:53
  • I think we need to change the explanatory text, many times question are asking about a whole field, like "Is Feng-Shui real", or a bunch of claims together. The current text is a general SE text, and I think that we can "localize" the text to better reflect/address issues that are specific to this site.
    – SIMEL
    Jun 26, 2013 at 7:58

Moving Target

I'm not sure how well this would work practically, but I've seen a few of these. Usually goes along with other tags, and only works once the OP refines his question.

In case it's not clear what I mean (but trying not to put anybody specifically on the spot), I've seen a few questions where:

  • the question either violates rules, or is just very sparse/incomplete
  • commenters / answers point this out, ask for refinements
  • the OP alters the question, presumably in an attempt to make it fit (but not succeeding)
  • the process continues, with the question eventually moving to mean something different, or unanswerable

It's tricky - sometimes this starts out well-meaning, but the OP has trouble forming a question that really adheres to the norms. Sometimes the question really seems to be a troll, no matter how much benefit-of-doubt you give. In either case, once the drift sets in, it's pretty annoying to even read, much less try to answer.

  • I disagree on this on the basis that a question should be put on hold before it becomes a moving target!
    – Sklivvz
    Jul 10, 2013 at 0:12
  • Fair point - although that doesn't always work out. It could also/instead apply to questions that were actually OK, but where the OP goes on to ask further questions, instead of accepting an answer and posting a new question. (Yes, I see the 'irony' in the redefining I've just done.)
    – hunter2
    Jul 10, 2013 at 7:06


I know that I'll have a hard time knowing when to use this, but as discussed previously,
How about some minimal effort when asking a question?

I tend to err on the side of being stricter with this than is, I think, SE policy ("If 10 minutes on Wikipedia would have answered it, then don't ask here." - would be my take). There is a certain point, though, where even by the most inclusive standards ... well, see link to previous discussion.

Note, ELU.SE uses this for 'dictionary questions' (in theory, anyway).

(Sorry for double posting, but given the nature of the question, I assume it's better to have an answer-per-answer, rather than per-answerer.)



All answers are required be based on empirical data, rather than opinion, speculation, pure theory or anecdotal experience. However, this question cannot be addressed that way.

In particular, questions about personal motivations, philosophical concepts, supernatural entities or other unfalsifiable claims are explicitly off-topic.

  • This seems too broad to me. In many cases it's a subjective call and we don't want to close in those cases ("I can't think of a way of proving this, therefore it's impossible to prove").
    – Sklivvz
    Jun 25, 2013 at 19:36

Fails to be notable

Questions on Skeptics Stack Exchange are expected to challenge a notable claim: a claim believed by numerous people. Consider updating your question by adding some proof of the claim's notability, such as an example where the claim is being made in the media.

  • This is text based on feedback by Sklivvz at chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/9345/…
    – user5582
    Jun 23, 2013 at 16:10
  • Note that this only lists the claim being made in the media as an example of a link that would be sufficient. It doesn't make it necessary that a claim be made in the media. It doesn't mean that the sources we currently accept as proof of notability would suddenly not be acceptable anymore.
    – user5582
    Jun 23, 2013 at 16:11

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