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Custom "off topic" close votes are coming to RPG.SE soon, and the NC and NARQ close reasons are being (partially) replaced:

As part of these changes we will be able to enter freeform comments when voting to close as "off topic", and our replacements for NC and NARQ will be more "actionable" by the question-asker, but it means we will lose some close reasons we're familiar with.

To replace the uses of NC, NARQ, and OT that are important to this site, we'll be able to specify up to three custom off-topic close reasons, and their explanatory text. These are both to cover site-specific reasons why we used to use NC and NARQ, but also simply for the convenience of not having to type "This site is about analogue RPGs, so computer RPGs are off-topic" by hand every time we choose "off topic". I expect that we will quickly figure out which reasons we need boilerplate list options for by looking at what freeform reasons are given most often, but I'm pretty sure we can come up with some of them now and start compiling our options early.


Also, it's important to emphasise that we absolutely don't have to choose anything now. When the new close menu rolls out, we will be able to use it just fine, and we can sort out what custom OT close reasons we want after we've gotten comfortable with it.


This post will also serve as the place to discuss wording and changes to our custom OT reasons, once the new voting code is live on RPG.SE. (Can I get a [featured] tag, mods?)

We will be limited to three custom OT reasons (at least at first), so we should make sure we pick the most useful or common ones.

For reference, here is a sampling of our recent Too Localized and Off Topic closed questions.

And for further reference, this is what our close options will look like, so we can judge where there are holes to fill that are RPG.SE-specific:

The new close-vote radio list

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So, thoughts? Is the current setup working? \$\endgroup\$ – C. Ross Jun 27 '13 at 16:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ @C.Ross For now I'm content to see how it plays out over the next while... A month, I guess? Give it a bit of time to shake out both here and network-wide. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 27 '13 at 22:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ can you help out a relative newcomer: "NC" and "NARQ"? \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 11 '15 at 0:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 There used to be a different set of standard close reasons; two of them were "Not Constructive" and "Not a Real Question"… which are too long to type. :) \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 11 '15 at 1:41
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    \$\begingroup\$ wow, I like these much better \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 11 '15 at 1:53
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Common reasons I can think of right away with some suggested wordings:

  • CRPG questions

    RPG.SE is about pen-and-paper, LARP, and other analogue RPGs. This question is about computer RPGs, which are off-topic.

  • Too-broad character build and charop

    Character build and optimisation questions must include specific requirements to be on-topic.

  • The bad kind of historical setting questions

    Historical setting questions must have an inherent RPG component. This question does not require RPG expertise and is therefore off-topic. It may be on-topic at history.SE.

  • Idle curiosity and amusement

    This question is about a hypothetical situation that is only useful to satisfy idle curiosity or as a source of amusement, which is off-topic for RPG.SE.

  • Too-broad sys-rec

    Since there are many thousands of RPGs and more every day, questions asking for recommendations must include narrow requirements to be on-topic. The requirements of this question are too broad and may have many hundreds of correct answers.

Some of these overlap with the other close vote reasons that will remain ("unclear what you're asking", "too broad", "primarily opinion-based"), so we should weigh whether we actually need them (to give the asker a specific actionable solution to their question being put "on hold") or whether the more general categories will suffice for that kind of off-topic question. If in doubt, leave it out – we can always add an off-topic option later if we decide we should have it.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Featured this at flag request. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 18 '13 at 23:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ could your third bullet be a bit broader: real-world research questions "real-world research questions must.... This question may be on-topic at another one of our sites." This gets not only the historical question, but also the "how many days can I stay on a horse's back IRL" and "how much material ablates on re-entry: I'm trying to design landers for my space opera" questions. \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 11 '15 at 15:38
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    \$\begingroup\$ @nitsua60 It could be made broader I suppose, but this answer is kinda obsolete now anyway: there are only three custom close reason slots, and this real-world research one I proposed here didn't make the cut. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Dec 11 '15 at 15:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ makes sense--anyway, I just realized that I'm basically proposing what doppelgreener's already put in as an answer! \$\endgroup\$ – nitsua60 Dec 11 '15 at 16:08
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I support SevenSidedDie's list, except for "Idle curiosity and amusement". To me, that seems to be a catch-all group that could be used for ANY question. Quite honestly, we don't have any way to know what a user's real intentions are when they ask a question and what may seem an idle question to us could be something serious to them. For example, "How do I get started in RPGs?" could be flagged as an idle question.

I think that vote-to-close reason is serious flamebait.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ That's actually a response to a rather specific question that we've formed site policy around. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Jun 19 '13 at 14:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ @waxeagle Sorry, I wasn't aware of that. Is my concern about the close reason being too broad still valid? \$\endgroup\$ – Discord Jun 19 '13 at 14:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yep there is the potential for that. \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Jun 19 '13 at 14:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, that's a valid concern. If we encode it in a custom reason, that is begging for it to be used. I think that one is probably rare enough that it shouldn't make the cut, and we'd avoid this problem too. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 19 '13 at 14:50
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Real world research questions:

Questions about real-world research topics, such as history, geography and economics, whilst relevant to RPGs, are off topic when they are only tangentially related to RPGs and do not benefit from RPG expertise, such that an RPG expert would not give you a better/different/more specific answer than an expert in that particular field.

(I realise after submitting this that SSD covered this in his middle bullet point, but here's my drafting for tackling these.)

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OK, there's a blog post on the changes: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2013/06/the-war-of-the-closes/

Stock reasons are

  • too broad
  • unclear what you're asking
  • primarily opinion based

in addition to off topic, dupe, too localized. Off topic can have "custom" added reasons (e.g. no sysrec, no product identification).

CRPGs, etc. are simple off topic, too broad charop or sysrec are too broad. Historical setting is simple off topic.

I don't see any solid justification for a site specific close reason at this time; I think we should wait and see if the given close reasons are unclear in practice and add them at need. We've tried hard to leave most things on topic here and just really roll hard on the other best practices on them (e.g. sysrec).

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    \$\begingroup\$ I think at least that sys-rec should have a custom close reason, since we have site-specific "how to fix this" policy. The close reasons are being changed so they're more actionable by the asker, and closing with the general "too broad" won't explain our policy or why it's too broad to people who don't realise there are a billion and one RPGs. A custom close reason for that would do the explaining for us, especially since I expect we'll be using [on hold] for sys-rec fairly often. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 25 '13 at 21:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ But otherwise, yeah, no harm in waiting for obvious useful holes to plug before adding other custom reasons. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Jun 25 '13 at 21:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ I could see that. \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 25 '13 at 22:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Shog9 has nicely given us a pair to start out with. CRPG and computer Game development \$\endgroup\$ – wax eagle Jun 26 '13 at 14:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ Yeah, fair enough, not huge needs but save me a little typing... \$\endgroup\$ – mxyzplk - Justice for Monica Jun 26 '13 at 21:19
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This question has been closed as Idea Solicitation. While a good answer often contains good ideas, a request for ideas is off-topic here, because it doesn't have a single best answer. Consider posting such solicitations on a forum.


Idea solicitation questions are always sort of too broad, because a thorough answer would have to cover a potentially large range of possibilities and doing so in depth would be too long for this format. They are sort of not too broad because the asker doesn't usually want answers in that format; instead they are expecting a smorgasbord of short, low-quality, "handful of random ideas" answers from which to pick and choose what to use in their game. They are looking for a forum.

Idea solicitation questions are often sort of primarily opinion based, because they often desire no way of determining whether an idea is or is not any good besides opinion, and almost never provide a aesthetic framework to judge answers within. Idea solicitation questions are not problematic just because of the opinion component, however, as even 'objective' idea solicitations ("How can I add two User-provided numbers in Pearl?") or 'good subjective' idea solicitations ("any ideas for a CR6 monster in D&D 3.5?) are horrible questions.

The crucial problem with idea solicitation questions is that they are not interested in "the best way"-- in fact a 'best answer' might not even be a coherent concept-- just good ways, and sometimes just ways. This means that they are not a real question, because real questions have answers.


There has been some objection to this idea somehow being made moot by the less useful generic messages associated with either Too Broad or Opinion Based. Even were this wholly subsumed in one or the other of those (it's not), a more specific message for a common problem is worthwhile. If it "straddles the two" (it does more than that), it's certainly a good custom close reason because neither of the close reasons best describe the issues and providing a single statement that addresses what's wrong prevents both multiple closure events (a little discouraging) and the question clearly not being a bad fit for the site for the reason listed on the close banner yet being un-reopen-able due to other issues the querant may not even be aware of (extremely discouraging). "Not quite one, but not quite the other. Maybe a bit of both?" is also a good indication that something be wholly outside an established framework. If, like I think, this is really it's own kind of problem similar to but separate from 'Too Broad' and 'Opinion Based', it would also be a good idea to add this to the VTC list.


Because we don't have this custom close reason, people are sometimes hesitant to close questions that fit this category. Such open idea solicitation questions will be linked here as I happen across them:

What are the best barbarian/heavy player races from a narrative standpoint?

How to cause a missed shapeshift roll for Dungeon World

Is there a way to become immune to Possession all the time?

What's a good item or spell for creating a magical surveillance state?

I have an Ardent-Battlemind, and I need some ideas for feats

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you expand this with some reasoning about its particular value? Comparing it against "too broad" and "primarily opinion-based" would be most useful. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 8 '15 at 18:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie done \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Mar 8 '15 at 20:29
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm not seeing how this doesn't fall under 'Too Broad,' which says "There are [...] too many possible answers[...]. Please add details to narrow the answer[...]." This is exactly the problem with 'idea solicitation,' as it's asking for many equally right answers. Your explanation has said that 'idea solicitation' is contained within both 'Too Broad' and 'Opinion-Based,' and I agree with that. So please, explain why neither of the existing close options is sufficient for the job and we need a new one which straddles them. \$\endgroup\$ – BESW Mar 9 '15 at 1:50
  • \$\begingroup\$ I see what you're getting at now. I think though, that if your motivation is a kind of question you see not getting closed, a whole meta asking "should we make new policy for X?" would generate more productive discussion. A custom close reason to cement a "yes" decision would be implementation then. I guess I'm saying: this looks like it has some merit, but the horse is behind the cart? A new close reason that makes a certain kind of question suddenly more likely to be closed probably won't fly without a policy discussion first. \$\endgroup\$ – SevenSidedDie Mar 12 '15 at 15:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @SevenSidedDie Ok, sounds good: New Meta. I have to say, though, this feels really self-promotional. \$\endgroup\$ – Please stop being evil Mar 12 '15 at 17:42

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