Currently, closing as off-topic adds a notice reading

This question does not appear to be about TeX, LaTeX or related typesetting systems, within the scope defined in the help center.

below the question. The 'new' approach to closing means that 'off-topic' is intended to be used for cases we don't cover 'by convention' as well as those not related to TeX. As such, the text may need to be altered to reflect this.

What I'm looking for is suggestions to improve this line to let people know that 'off-topic' can cover not just 'not about TeX at all' but also 'not within our scope'. (For example, typos in code could fall within this category.)

Having looked at the mod tool which allows a change to the text, I find that we can have separate texts for 'not about TeX' and 'outside of our scope for answering' texts. The current situation is: enter image description here so we could for example have a custom close reason which covers all of the 'OT by convention' things, and leave the 'not about TeX' one alone (if we wish).

  • Note that here I'm focussing on the situation 'as is': whether or not you agree with the use of 'off-topic' here is a different matter!
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 27, 2013 at 12:48
  • This mismatch is between the above message and the selection of specific subreasons. Jun 27, 2013 at 14:36

2 Answers 2


Off topic subreasons currently are:

  • Questions on a problem encountered while writing code must include a Minimal Working Example. For help in doing so, see: I've just been asked to write a minimal working example, what is that?

  • Questions must clearly state a specific problem and include only the code necessary to reproduce it. Large amounts of irrelevant code makes questions harder to answer and less likely to help others. See: I've just been asked to write a minimal working example, what is that?

  • This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network

  • Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)

But we also have the option of closing because a question is

  • unclear what you're asking Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking.

It seems that the "unclear" option covers the first two cases under "off topic", and should therefore be removed from "off topic".

Now that we can split the reasons, this is not so bad provided these cases get the appropriate custom text.

For the default text for the off topic closure I now suggest

This question does not fall within the scope of TeX-LaTeX Stack Exchange as defined in the help center. These reasons may include

  • use of out of date packages/distributions
  • bug reports
  • simple typing errors

The comments on the question should describe the main reason.

  • See meta.tex.stackexchange.com/questions/3609/… where I think I cover the first two cases as you suggest. (I'd not run through the new close system, so didn't know those two were there!)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 27, 2013 at 15:40
  • @JosephWright Yes, that is exactly in line with my suggestion. Jun 27, 2013 at 15:50
  • I guess for 'formal' text we need 'TeX StackExchange' rather than 'TeX.SX' (or similar)
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 29, 2013 at 7:06
  • @JosephWright I have updated to the name on the help center page. Also added an extra line at the end refer back to the comments on the question. Jun 29, 2013 at 11:45
  • See edit to question: we are allowed a split!
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 29, 2013 at 21:12
  • Now that we'll have two reasons, the default reason plus your reason (without the first bullet point) seems ideal to me.
    – Alan Munn
    Jun 29, 2013 at 21:50
  • @JosephWright This splitting improves the situation considerably. I have updated my suggestion in line with Alan Munn's comment. Jun 30, 2013 at 8:36
  • I've added this (pending approval by a second mod). Markdown for lists doesn't seem to be available, so I've had to run the list into the paragraph.
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jul 1, 2013 at 7:39
  • @MartinScharrer Cool: could you approve it 'formally' in tex.stackexchange.com/admin/flags/close-as-off-topic, so it gets activated?
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jul 1, 2013 at 11:30
  • @JosephWright: Ah, my bad (Monday morning ...). I approved it there now. Jul 1, 2013 at 11:49

Here's a revised version of what I posted earlier:

In order to be considered "On Topic" for the site, questions need to be potentially helpful other users as well. Questions that are likely to be helpful only to you are too narrow to be considered on topic. These reasons may include:

  • out of date packages/distribution
  • typos in code

Feel free to suggest other text for the bullets.

  • How about including '... questions need to be about TeX, LaTeX or related systems as explained in the help center, and be potentially helpful ...'
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 27, 2013 at 15:34
  • I was assuming this text follows the text you quote in the question, in which case it seems kind of redundant. (This was what motivated my "this would be on topic, but..." but nobody liked that :) So truly off topic posts wouldn't get this explanation. (Or maybe I'm misunderstanding things.)
    – Alan Munn
    Jun 27, 2013 at 16:26
  • See edit to question: we are allowed a split!
    – Joseph Wright Mod
    Jun 29, 2013 at 21:12

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