As of several weeks ago, questions closed as off-topic on skeptics.SE display a banner indicating that they are off-topic but without any information on exactly which custom off-topic close reason the close-voters used. For example, this question currently has the banner:

enter image description here

Unlike the banners displayed for most of the site's history, this does not indicate the exact type of off-topicness. Was it closed for not being a notable claim? For being related to a rapidly changing event? One of the other reasons? Without knowledge of what is wrong, potential editors will not be able to edit the question into shape.

Going by this post on meta.academia.SE, it appears that the change in banners corresponds to a new ability for site moderators to customize the text that is shown in the banners for each close reason. I assume that skeptics.SE is currently showing default banners due to custom banner text not having been configured yet. If this is so, could a moderator please configure the banner texts so that users can get proper information on closure reasons? If this is not the reason for the decline in banner quality, what is?

2 Answers 2


The reason the closed banner appears so uninformative to you is because, as part of changes made to the close banners network-wide, the full close reason is now only visible to the OP, and to users with the close/reopen privilege. I'm unsure of the exact reasoning behind this change, but what it means is that, since neither you nor I have the close/reopen privilege on Skeptics.SE, that generic "off-topic" message is all we see.

If I check a closed question on Writing.SE, where I do have that privilege, this is what I see instead:

enter image description here

  • 1
    So, new users can no longer look at existing closed items in order to learn why something counts as an inappropriate question? They must now personally create their own bad answers in order to learn. E.g. it takes a while for many people to understand what "opinion-based" actually means: the initial thought is often that the question itself contains too many opinions, which often isn't the case. Commented May 30, 2020 at 13:07
  • Huh. I didn't know this. It can be really tricky to understand what new users see.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 14:14
  • Just confirming that the link in the question shows the off-topic reason to me when I click on it.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 14:16
  • 1
    I don't believe this is the entirety of the story. This meta.academia.SE post lists "One brief text that describes the close reason to everybody seeing the question" as one of the configurable texts, implying that custom texts can be set that can be seen by low-rep users, and indeed when I view this academia.SE question, I see a banner with "This question was closed for strongly depending on individual factors." despite not having close vote privileges on that site.
    – jwodder
    Commented May 30, 2020 at 20:53

Given what I just learnt from @F1Krazy's answer, let me offer this as a barely satisfactory work-around:

I already try to comment on answers I close with more information about the reasons.

This is a lot easier when I am using my desktop browser with helpful plugs to automate the most common comments, and decent keyboard to allow me to type custom comments.

When I am editing on my phone, however, I tend to be more brusque because it is so painful typing on that keyboard. I try to come back to the question later and justify the closure in more detail - I appreciate that the delay can be frustrating.

However, in light of this change, I will redouble my efforts to comment reasons.

That doesn't help for questions closed by the community.

  • 2
    As a moderator you can edit the close reasons to change them as (kinda) described here: meta.stackoverflow.com/a/396597/6083675.
    – Laurel
    Commented Jun 1, 2020 at 20:36
  • 1
    Is seems the SX company has just managed to generate more bureaucratic work for mods... Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 11:35
  • @Laurel: See F1Krazy's answer for why that isn't the issue here.
    – Oddthinking Mod
    Commented Jun 2, 2020 at 11:58

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