The entire question "close" system across the Stack Exchange network is going to get a face-lift soon that will (hopefully) make the fall a little bit gentler for new users and ease the learning curve. I expect this will help our site greatly in transitioning people from the normal preconceived notion of what sort of questions to ask to the specific guidelines of this site and the way we have of keeping things constructive.

You can read about the background to the changes here:

In summary, the language of 'closed' is being softened to 'on hold' to help people grasp the idea that this is a chance to potentially fix their question and get it opened again. Along with this change, the close reasons and explanations are also getting an overhaul.

To top it off, we will have the option to configure site specific close reasons:

As an example of how this might be used, check out what the Physics site is talking about for a couple potential site specific close reasons:

The question is, should we consider any site specific close reasons here and if so what should they be and why?

  • 1
    At least this site does not have to deal with a flood of no-effort homework questions.
    – user3331
    Jun 25, 2013 at 13:59
  • @PaulA.Clayton True story. We've only seen a couple and they were pretty innocuous.
    – Caleb
    Jun 25, 2013 at 14:02
  • 2
    It might be appropriate to change Why are some questions closed, and what does "closed" mean? to include the new notation of [on hold]. (I applaud SE for this change; it better communicates that an edit could make the question fit.)
    – user3331
    Jun 25, 2013 at 14:04
  • @PaulA.Clayton Ya that post might be dated. But let's get the new system live before we figure out what to do about it.
    – Caleb
    Jun 25, 2013 at 14:08
  • I agree. If everything had to be perfect before going public, there would be no Stack Exchange. (This just seems to be an instance where implementation changes might justify documentation changes.)
    – user3331
    Jun 25, 2013 at 14:33

5 Answers 5


The one thing that I know we do need is a clearer pastoral advice closure reason.


Your question seems to be related to a request for advice that is better served by talking to someone in your local church, perhaps your pastor, priest, an elder or counselor.

would work as a wording for that.

This is one thing in particular that is decidedly off topic and requires no scope change to implement.


At the risk of being self serving, in How we are different than other sites I enumerated several reasons that I think correspond to the main reasons we close things. Ergo, I would suggest the following Close Reasons:

  1. No Question Mark -

    There doesn't appear to be an actual question in this posting. Please understand that we ask questions in which people are trying to learn things, not push an agenda. If there is not an objectively verifiable answer to this question, it is not a question

  2. No Scope in which to answer

    This site exists to answer objective questions about the doctrines and practices of Christianity - but answering for "all Christians" is too broad. In order to make this question answerable, please identify the group or groups of Christian doctrine that should be referenced in an answer

  3. Pastoral Advice is Off-topic

    We are unable to assist with personal problems, for the simple fact that your problems should be brought to a local pastor, priest, or counselor who is able to know you and diagnose you more fully.

  4. Truth Questions are Off-Topic

    This site does not seek to answer "What is the correct practice / form" of anything. Rather, we seek to understand existing doctrine and practice of particular groups of Christians. Please scope your question accordingly.

  5. Rhetorical / Faulty Premise question

    As it stands, this question relies on too much opinion to be objectively answered, and/or seems to be more interested in making a point than obtaining information. Please reword this question to rely more on objectively verifiable information and to clarify the desired criteria under which an answer would be accepted.

  6. Insufficient Notability

    This site seeks to understand the doctrine and practice of all forms of Christianity, but is not concerned with individually sourced opinion - unless if the person in question meets our standards of notability. Please review the minimum standards for notablity

  7. Unnecessary Rudeness

    This site is open to adherents and non-adherents alike, but all questions and answers should be phrased politely and objectively. Questions which are excessively combative, rude, or demeaning to others are not acceptable.

  • We only get three custom messages though, right? I vote 2, 3, and 5. 1, 4, and 6 (maybe 5) are covered by 2.
    – Ryan Frame
    Jun 25, 2013 at 16:20
  • 2
    For #1, I'd suggest it not be "No Question Mark", but rather "No Identifiable Question". Jun 26, 2013 at 0:58
  • 1
    Shouldn't that be "existing or historical doctrine and practice"?
    – user3331
    Jun 26, 2013 at 1:13

Would it be helpful to have a custom message for Truth questions needing a denominational specification? As it is currently, these questions tend to be closed as not constructive, and when one is left open (1, and maybe 2), the question is never improved because it gets votes and [a variety of] answers.

Something like (quoting fredsbend in a comment in #2 above):

As worded, this is what the community here might call a Truth question. You are obviously looking for an answer to what you should do according to what is true and right. Conversely, questions on this site should be scoped within a particular doctrine or denomination.

  • 3
    Respected member of the community here I come.
    – user3961
    Jun 24, 2013 at 15:37
  • 1
    Unless we redefine our topic guidelines specifically this kind of question is considered "Too Broad" or "primarity opinion based" or "hard to tell what you're asking" rather than "Off Topic"
    – wax eagle
    Jun 24, 2013 at 17:04
  • Truth questions ultimately boil down to opinion-based. When you get down to it, "Truth questions" and "Truth answers" are only problematic on this site because it degrades to "this is the Truth according to my opinion" (or this denomination's opinion, or that fringe group's opinion). I'd be in favor of just sticking with Opinion-based with an explanation. Jun 25, 2013 at 1:28
  • A verifiable "Truth Question," isn't any better if limited to one denominational scope. I've paid attention to a lot of denominational wars, and they boil around Truth Questions. A generic or mere Christianity is a better basis to set Truth Questions.
    – pterandon
    Jun 25, 2013 at 10:51
  • @pterandon: Isn't the whole idea that Truth questions cannot be answered under a generic Christianity scope?
    – Ryan Frame
    Jun 25, 2013 at 12:22
  • @ryan_frame, the truth is that Truth Questions cannot be answered under a specific denominational scope. What is the truest/ best? What is best for me to do? What does God want me to do? What is God thinking here? The claim that there is a valid "Presbyterian" answer to Truth question ignores not only the unprovable ness of TQ's but also violent disagreements that rage across denominational assemblies.
    – pterandon
    Jun 25, 2013 at 20:46

We should consider a close reason for seeming combative.

As worded, this question appears hostile. It sounds like you are more interested in debating potential answers instead of learning about various forms of Christianity.

It does happen and we need to squash it quickly. Debate and argument is not a good fit for any SE site.

  • 3
    I think this falls well into the "primarily opinion based" category already.
    – wax eagle
    Jun 24, 2013 at 17:03
  • 2
    Our best theological statements from Jesus himself come from the combative, hostile questions of enemies of Christianity. An entirely different matter is questions based on an untrue factual claim from a New Atheist-like perspective. The "editing" of these might be a bit subjective, however.
    – pterandon
    Jun 25, 2013 at 11:38
  • I would rather have questions with untrue factual claims rebutted in the answers than closed. I'm new though. What do other people think on the site? Jul 26, 2013 at 7:48
  • @AndresRiofrio You seem to be referring to a different scenario. I am referring to when a user asks a legitimate question, but the reveal in their tone or later in comments that they only asked the question so that they would argue the answers as be the "Truth". Your scenario seems to be objection to factual inaccuracies. Your scenario is perfectly acceptable on all SE sites. That is why the comment feature exists: to point out issues with posts.
    – user3961
    Jul 26, 2013 at 17:55

There was one on physics.se about being not mainstream enough for the site. I don't know if it's worth it to put out here l, we've got a too localized which could apply to this or pastoral advice, but these could be the sub-menu options under too localized.

Question requires esoteric knowledge of a marginally, fractionally tiny subset of Christianity so minute that it may only apply to one persons left brain quadrant during certain phases of the moon.

Or something like that

  • Should we not leave these open and wait for someone to answer them instead? Jul 26, 2013 at 7:49

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