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Our community-specific close reasons (off-topic sub-reasons) haven't changed much at all since they were defined in 2013.

Just last year, a massive revamp took place to the closing system. As part of those updates, the community-specific close reasons gained a new five-field format, which displays different text in different places so that close voters and flaggers are guided to correct use of the close reason, authors are instructed how to improve their question, and privileged users are given advice on how to fix the question.

In my opinion, I think it's a good idea to transition our current close reasons to the new format. Currently, questions closed with any off-topic sub-reason will simply show to other users who don't have closing privileges that they were closed as off-topic, with no explanation as to why the question is not a good fit for the site. On the other hand, the new format contains a description field that allows displaying more on-point text to others browsing questions.

We recently updated one of our close reasons over on the global meta to use the new format. That post has a good description as to how the new fields work, which I'll quote here:

I'm going to be rehashing, in less words, the format for close reasons that Catija explained in her aforementioned answer. The fields available to us are limited to 500 characters with the exception of the first field, so keep that in mind when proposing/making changes!

The format is as follows:

  1. Brief description (100 characters) - Visible in the close/flag dialog in bold. Should be very succinct, only spanning a couple of words.
  2. Usage guidance - Tells close voters when to use the close reason. Ideally, this is descriptive enough to cover edge cases, and that detail should inspire confidence in close voters that this reason is the right choice under specified circumstances.
  3. Post notice close description - Visible to all users, the post notice description should follow the format "This question was closed because it is ... It is not currently accepting answers."
  4. Post owner guidance - Visible only to the post author, this should explain to the OP why their question was closed, and give detailed information on how to improve their post to get it reopened. Helpful links to the help center would be nice to include.
  5. Privileged user guidance - Visible to users with the cast close votes privilege in the post notice on a post closed with this close reason. This should inform close voters on how best to guide the asker in improving their question or inform them when the question should be reopened.

Important Notes

  • If accepted, the changes made to the close reason will be applied retroactively to all questions currently closed with this close reason. Post notices will be updated across the board. This requires a CM editing the existing close reason.
    • If the changes are major enough, we can choose to retire the current close reason and have two diamond moderators or staff with moderator privileges create a new close reason for our proposal. This should only be done if the changes are too major or we in general feel that the changes should not apply retroactively.
  • For clarity, these changes only affect [this specific close reason on this site]. This does not apply across the network.

Per the aforementioned answer from staff member Catija linked in the above quote, the team prefers an individual, separate discussion for each close reason. As such, I'm kicking this off with the "immigration or moving for extended periods of time" close reason, and once this discussion is over, I'll proceed to the next reason. Or, if you prefer, I can start discussions for the other two reasons ("constructing travel and tour itineraries" and "price-shopping for specific goods or services") right now.

I've posted my proposals for the fields' texts as an answer below. If you have any improvements to think of, or would like to discuss the proposed improvements, please post another answer. Once we reach an outcome, I'll accept the favored answer and a moderator can tag this post so it can be implemented.

For context, the current wording of this close reason is as follows:

Questions about immigration or moving for extended periods of time (studies or employment, among others) are off-topic. Our sister site, Expatriates Stack Exchange might be a better place to ask. See also the meta post Is it OK to ask questions about immigration?.

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  • What happened to the proposal to make it easier to migrate questions to Expatriates and how does that affect the proposal here?
    – mlc
    Apr 1 at 0:54
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    @mlc Migration is only supposed to be done for questions that are perfect fits for the destination site. If a question is clearly an expatriate question but doesn't meet one or more of Expatriates' guidelines, it's better to close the question and have the author delete and repost there. Same thing applies if the same question has already been asked on that site (or the author has cross-posted there): migration would make a duplicate question, and we've had complaints from mods there of our mods migrating duplicate questions.
    – gparyani
    Apr 1 at 1:50
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    See the migration FAQ on the global meta, section When should I consider migration, and when is it inappropriate?, the bullets underneath the flowcharts.
    – gparyani
    Apr 1 at 1:52

1 Answer 1

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Here's my proposal of the wording. The primary intent of this answer is to get started with a basic frame of what each field is supposed to represent.

To see exactly where each field is used, see the quoted part of my question.


Brief description:

Expatriate question (immigration, studies, employment, etc.)

Describes the use of the close reason succinctly, per the guidelines in the quoted part of the question.

Usage guidance:

This question is about immigration or moving for extended periods of time (studies, employment, etc.) and is a better fit on our Expatriates site.

This field is shown in the close dialog as the extended description of the close reason option. I wrote this sentence so it's succinct for close voters and flaggers, who are more likely to know site rules.

Post notice close description:

This question was closed because it is about immigration or moving for extended periods of time. It is not currently accepting answers.

This is the sentence that's shown to non-privileged users who browse the question, in lieu of simply showing that the question is off-topic. There are different ways to phrase this; I've written this based on the corresponding field for the Meta.SE "no longer reproducible" close reason. (I've also removed the link referral to the former moderator who wrote the close reason.)

Post owner guidance:

Questions about immigration or moving for extended periods of time (studies or employment, among others) are out of scope for this site. Our sister site, Expatriates Stack Exchange, may be a better place to ask. If this question is about short-term travel within the scope defined in the help center, please edit to clarify why.

Mostly taken from the current close reason. The last sentence is adapted from the corresponding field in the linked Meta.SE close reason, which is quoted in the accepted answer to the discussion linked in the question..

Privileged user guidance:

If this question does relate to short-term travel within the scope defined in the help center, help by editing the question to improve it, or leave a comment explaining to the author how to improve their question. If you believe that this question would be a high-quality fit for our sister site Expatriates, flag this question for moderator attention and request that it be migrated there.

This is mostly adapted from the linked Meta.SE close reason - that one also has to do with "this question is a better fit elsewhere" (in that case, a per-site meta). I've edited it to conform to this close reason.

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  • 2
    The word "immigration" is ambiguous. In some contexts, it also means "everything related to entry into the country" or "border formalities". We also have an additional issue: We tend to needlessly close questions about travel, border formalities, and journeys out of their country of residence from people who happen to be migrants / expats. I don't know how to phrase it best but I am afraid that the description would encourage a reflex-like “this smells like a question from a migrant, let's get rid of them” response.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 31 at 8:51
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    This also conflate "extended period of time" and the purpose of travel (work, studies). Many experienced users are still confused about that but the purpose of travel is not always relevant legally. Why should work and studies be excluded? Travel is not tourism and I am pretty sure we don't want to exclude "business" travel.
    – Relaxed
    Mar 31 at 8:57
  • @Relaxed Work and studies are not excluded. They have their own SE called Expatriates.
    – JoErNanO Mod
    Mar 31 at 9:32
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    It is not that the purpose of the travel is work. Probably a third if our questions are about business travel. But when the question is about, say, getting a work permit, or handling income taxes because you live in a country over the year-turn, then it's an Expats question, not a travel question. Apr 3 at 15:20
  • @Relaxed would "emigration" be a better word?
    – JonathanReez Mod
    May 18 at 20:59
  • For the most part, I followed the suggestions here. I've made a slight adjustment after consulting with the moderators to add some specific text to the close modal explaining when not to use the close reason - "Don't use this close reason for questions about travel durations under 6 months."
    – Catija StaffMod
    May 23 at 20:49

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