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Recently I have started using Stack Overflow and one thing I noticed is that their close dialog is much more feature rich than ours. Let's see a picture of their "off-topic" reasons.

enter image description here

Wow! This makes a lot of sens to me. In our close dialog on the other hand we have the custom message thing, which allows the close voter to specific a reason in written text. This was previously discussed and introduced here:

However, often times I do not want to type so much and there are a lot of reasons which come up quite often, for example, the typo. Of course, I could save some text building block on my computer but simply clicking a button seems more comfortable.

Therefore I propose to add the following reasons for voting to close as off-topic (stolen and adapted from Stack Overflow):

  • Questions asking us to recommend or find a package, font, book, documentation or other off-site resource are off-topic on this site as they tend to attract opinionated answers and spam. Instead, produce a minimal working example (MWE) to reproduce the problem and what has been done so far to solve it.

  • This question was caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was resolved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by identifying and closely inspecting the minimal working example (MWE) necessary to reproduce the problem before posting.


At the same time it would be advantageous to be able to migrate questions on MathJAX to Stack Overflow. Currently, one can only vote to move to Meta. But I guess that is another question.

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    One issue here has been that 'off topic' replaced the older 'too localized', and there is a feeling that we use 'off topic' not because it's that accurate (the questions are about TeX) but rather because there is no better alternative. As such, 'individual attention' (comments/discussion) has generally been favoured. (People seemed not to like the idea of a general close reason as each case is different.) – Joseph Wright Jun 3 '17 at 5:36
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    At a technical level we are allowed two custom close reasons: the main site is somewhat different. – Joseph Wright Jun 3 '17 at 5:37
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    @CarLaTeX This does not qualify as "off-topic". Also we have "too broad" and "unclear what you're asking" for that. – Henri Menke Jun 3 '17 at 6:40
  • @HenriMenke I was joking, of course ;) – CarLaTeX Jun 3 '17 at 6:41
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    Book recommendations aren't always closed as off-topic. For example, What are good learning resources for a LaTeX beginner? has nearly 300 upvotes. There's also Where can I find good ConTeXt documentation. It would be somewhat contradictory to have both the tutorials tag and make such requests off-topic. – Nicola Talbot Jun 3 '17 at 11:26
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    I also don't think that package recommendations are really off topic either. Given that the entire code base of LaTeX is user written, recommendations never end up being commercial (which is a problem in other areas) and it's not always easy to find packages for specialized purposes unless you know what you're looking for. – Alan Munn Jun 3 '17 at 16:48
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    Sometimes the solution to a problem can be just \usepackage{AlmightyPackage}, so package request is quite OK, if it is not to broad like "recommend a package to make my thesis look good". – Michael Fraiman Jun 3 '17 at 21:53
  • @ChristianHupfer Since the score of such a discussion question reflects agreement, I urge you to please downvote if you do not agree. I don't think downvoting on Meta incurs the usual -1 on your rep. – Henri Menke Jun 4 '17 at 2:57
  • @HenriMenke: Who says that I disagree? My propositions are meant more less seriously. There's enough content here on TeX.SE that should be closed as off-topic because of the mentioned reasons... – user31729 Jun 4 '17 at 6:48
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    How can i change the font for the header could just as well be stated as Is there a package to customize the headers? I want to change the font. So this is very much ok. – Johannes_B Jun 4 '17 at 7:28
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    I also find "closing as offtopic because it has been answered in the comments" to be really awful and sending the wrong message. Ideally we should just turn those comments into answers, but at least a better close reason would help. – ShreevatsaR Jun 4 '17 at 15:03
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    I personally do not appreciate that an asker is asking for the sake of reputation. For example posting a complicated image and leaving it there forever; no reply to questions in comments, no comment to existing answers, no answer accepted. There should be a choice for this case. – Symbol 1 Jun 4 '17 at 15:56
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    @sk8forether Seems reasonable: I'll post two answers later today, each with one possible text. That way we can see how they come out vote-wise against any possible alternatives. – Joseph Wright Jun 7 '17 at 10:07
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    @ChristianHupfer This is one of the issue I think relevant here. In the last few days, numerous old questions were "tidied up". In most of them, OP was asked for some more details and/or MWE but never answered. I felt that closing because of "unclear what you're asking" is not exactly relevant for such question and might discourage the OP if they come back to the site. In the other hand, I think it's good to close such "dead-ends" to distinguish between posts where OP still expects an answer (active questions) and the rest. The fact that closing can be revoked should be made clear to the OP. – ebosi Jun 7 '17 at 14:26
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    I've added one suggestion (taken from the question), but I'm not sure about the 'recommendation' one: I don't particularly see that this is a common problem (the 'spam' part for example doesn't ring a bell for me). Of course, others are free to make suggestions! – Joseph Wright Jun 7 '17 at 18:36
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One I think uncontroversial close reason is for things which are typos or which cannot be reproduced: these are about TeX but are unlikely to help any future readers. Thus something like

This question was caused by a problem that can no longer be reproduced or a simple typographical error. While similar questions may be on-topic here, this one was resolved in a manner unlikely to help future readers. This can often be avoided by identifying and closely inspecting the minimal working example (MWE) necessary to reproduce the problem before posting.

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    wish i could upvote this many more times! – barbara beeton Jun 7 '17 at 18:29
  • @barbarabeeton Not my text ;) I've just copied this one from the question (to get things moving along). Still pondering if there are any others I could suggest ... – Joseph Wright Jun 7 '17 at 18:34
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    @JosephWright An off-topic reason for MathJAX questions is conceivable, however, I think these should usually be migrated to Stack Overflow. – Henri Menke Jun 8 '17 at 2:16
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    @HenriMenke Because they need mod action to migrate, flagging is probably best. (I could ask the Powers about a new migration route, but that can't be just for MathJaX so perhaps isn't that helpful). – Joseph Wright Jun 8 '17 at 5:53

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