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This is a follow-up to Let's talk about closure to talk specifically about closure reasons and messaging. (This topic was previously discussed here).

Over the last 90 days, we’ve closed 17.5% of questions asked. That strikes me as not egregious; however, I would like to see the extremely low reopen rates increase. Far, far more questions are edited after closure than are reopened, which suggests we have an opportunity to improve how we communicate the changes that would be required to bring the question to our expectations.

One place we can start working on that (but not the only place) is our close reasons. I took a look at the last 90 days’ worth of closure data and wish to make a proposal. Note that we get three custom close reasons, in addition to the out-of-the-box reasons.

Of the questions closed, more than half (52%) were closed as either "unclear what you're asking" or "off-topic - Questions on problems in code you've written ..." (roughly 26% each). This aligns with a general sense of mine, that I've heard expressed by others as well, that we have a large and poorly-differentiated group of questions that have a problem with the information being provided: there's no code, there's no error message, there's no detail besides "it doesn't work" or "I don't know how ...". That's something we can work on and communicate more effectively.

"off-topic - Question that are intended to propose ideas, solicit opinion or provoke discussion are better asked in an alternative forum (http://salesforce.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic)." was used only five times, one-half of one percent of closed questions. I don’t think this close reason is useful (we can use "other" or "primarily opinion-based", the out of the box reason).

"off-topic - Programming questions not specific to Salesforce are off-topic here, but can be asked on Stack Overflow (http://stackoverflow.com/about)." was used to close just over five percent of closed questions. We don’t need this close reason because there is an out-of-the-box close reason, "This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network", that addresses the same question population.

I propose to deactivate the three existing custom close reasons and add the following two custom close reasons:

  • Questions about implementation problems need to include a specific description of the problem (including exact errors and stack traces, if any) and the code or metadata to reproduce the problem. Please limit code inclusions to only the relevant elements, such as an MVR (minimum viable reproduction). This question can be reopened when it is edited to include those details.
  • Questions about requirements or objectives should demonstrate the work or research you’ve done so far and ask a specific question. Providing complete implementations based on a list of requirements is not a goal of this community. This question can be reopened when it is edited to include the needed information.

(The latter rephrased in accordance with Derek F's helpful suggestion).

The objective of these changes is to more finely target the issues within that 52% of closed questions, while being more explicit about what changes are required to reopen.

That would leave us with one remaining slot for a new close reason. I am open to suggestion as to what that is (along with feedback on the above proposal), or to holding that slot for future community needs.

Possible third reason, also suggested by discussion below:

  • This question does not fall within this site's scope. It may be about programming other than on the Salesforce platforms, pertain to a third-party vendor, or not be answerable from public information. A community member should add a comment to clarify how this question is not on topic.
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  • I'm definitely on board with these changes. – Adrian Larson Nov 19 '19 at 19:55
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    Great initiative. Personally I see a number of questions recently closed by me due to being "off-topic - Questions on problems in code you've written ..." which I instead would close with "Questions about requirements or objectives should demonstrate the work or research" being more appropriate reason for the question not meeting the community expectations. – Lukas Lunow Nov 20 '19 at 9:30
  • I agree with all 3 proposed changes. – David Cheng Nov 25 '19 at 15:24
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    @AdrianLarson I can't approve my own changes to the close reasons - would you do the honors? – David Reed Nov 25 '19 at 15:59
  • @DavidReed Which should I deactivate first? – Adrian Larson Nov 25 '19 at 18:02
  • @AdrianLarson I'm not sure the order matters - we're deactivating both of the remaining custom reasons and then activating 3 new ones. – David Reed Nov 25 '19 at 18:08
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We've updated the Close Reasons, effective today. Many thanks to Derek F and others, and to sfdcfox on the original "Let's talk about closure" discussion, for contributing. I hope that this is the first of several changes and discussions as we try to improve our messaging to the community and be a friendlier, clearer, more supportive place.

If you have thoughts and feedback, feel free to open another Meta post.

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    I have been in/out from this forum for last few months, but still browse through time provided. Without being aware of the new closure reasons, while I was voting one for closure this morning, I felt that we have the two reasons rightly mentioned. I had always struggled to close off-topic but now it is clear as which one to choose when. Thanks for putting this together David. – Jayant Das Nov 26 '19 at 14:16
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    Very late but I love the new close reasons. I really like that the reasons are not "this is closed and wont be reopened" and more "this needs improvement". I always advocate for re-opening questions but the average user does not understand how to re-open their question or why it was closed. Hopefully these reasons & improved text helps increase open rates & decrease close rates. – battery.cord Dec 9 '19 at 15:37
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About that off-topic - Programming questions not specific to Salesforce are off-topic here, but can be asked on Stack Overflow closure reason

In my experience, the problems with the This question belongs on another site in the StackExchange Network closure reason are:

  • it's used to suggest/initiate a question migration (as opposed to simple closure)
  • it can't be used without selecting a migration site
  • the only migration target I see is our own meta

I see some information saying that all sites only have a max of 5 target migration sites (one of which must be that community's own meta), and that there's some notion of needing a good migration record, but it's all very unclear1. Point being, this isn't a replacement for the off topic, should be on SO closure reason.

That said, I'd still be in favor of removing the should be on SO closure reason. It's used infrequently; when I do use it, I usually add a comment anyway, so it's not much of a shortcut; the other closure reason I think would provide a workable alternative.

On the language of the second new proposed closure reason

Questions about requirements or objectives...

Might just be me, but the bit about "SFSE is not able to provide complete implementation instructions for requirements" bothers me when I see it.

We aren't physically/logistically prevented from providing complete implementations. Some people, myself included from time to time, end up doing that to varying degrees. I agree that it's not at all what the purpose of our community is.

As an alternative, how about the following?

Questions about requirements or objectives should demonstrate the work or research you’ve done so far and ask a specific question. Providing complete implementations based on a list of requirements is not a goal of this community. This question can be reopened when it is edited to include the needed information.

About that third slot

I think there's still merit in keeping the unclear what you're asking closure reason.

When I get up in the morning, part of my routine is to browse the review queues (that's what normal people do, right? I don't need to seek help...right?). I see a non-insignificant number of questions that are meandering (and hard to divine what, precisely, the issue is), a vague title and a code dump, or just simply don't have a defined question.

My own biases make me think that these type of questions generally exhibit extreme lack of effort, and a propensity for abandonment (even if a community member puts effort into engagement).

Yes, one of the two new closure reasons you've proposed could possibly cover those situations. That leaves us in a similar state to what we currently find ourselves in, though; a state of having a squircular (squirctangular?) peg of a question, and round/square holes (closure reasons).

If there's nothing more pressing as a closure reason, I'd be more inclined to keep the unclear what you're asking closure reason. It's a better fit, and very clear as to what the primary issue of the question is.

1: Maybe this means that if we (meaning our mods) start migrating questions to CodeReview, and people start trawling over on CR, we'd get an option for normal users to select CR as a migration target? That's not really on topic for this discussion though, so I'll stop there.

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  • Derek, I really like your rephrasing of my proposal and I would like to adopt that. Re: "unclear what you're asking": that is a built-in close reason, and we cannot remove or alter it. I'd like to provide more specificity where applicable but agree that this close reason still has merit. – David Reed Nov 21 '19 at 20:00
  • I did not realize that moderators have more power (target any site for migration) than the ordinary user. I'll think more on this. Since we're also encouraged not to migrate questions that will be closed for quality reasons on the target site, it may behoove us to retain a "not on topic here" reason - perhaps rephrased, however. – David Reed Nov 21 '19 at 20:03
  • @DavidReed On the "unclear" reason: Ah, didn't realize that. Guess it's not an issue then. On the "migration" reason: Makes sense. It could be covered by "other", but if we only have 2 custom closure reasons now, we might as well, right? – Derek F Nov 21 '19 at 20:08
  • How would you react to the idea of broadening the "not on topic here" reason to make it more useful? Something like "This question does not fall within this site's scope. It may be about programming other than on the Salesforce platforms, pertain to a third-party vendor, or not be answerable from public information. A comment should be added to clarify how this question is not on topic." – David Reed Nov 21 '19 at 20:09
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    @DavidReed I like it. The A comment should be added bit confused me at first because I thought that statement was directed towards the asker rather than the community at large. Maybe "The people voting to close should ensure there is a comment to clarify how this question is "off topic""? Including a link to an improved "what is on-topic?" help page might be a good addition too. – Derek F Nov 21 '19 at 20:25

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