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When you are flagging to close a question as off-topic you are presented with two reasons for closure that seem very similar:

  1. This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center.
  2. Blatantly off-topic (this question has nothing to do with worldbuilding)

I'm confused as to what the difference here is. Does the first reason mean that this is simply a misguided question that should be reworded to fit within the scope of Worldbuilding while the second reason means that this question simply has nothing to do with Worldbuilding?

Screenshot showing the off-topic choices

Edit: As of June 6, this issue has not been resolved. Even after site graduation, the issue persists.

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  • $\begingroup$ I do not see the second option anywhere. I think one user entered a custom reason when he voted and this option is mentioned to other users afterward. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ What was the question? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:14
  • $\begingroup$ Really? I went to two or three different questions and all of them had this option. $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ No, I have it as well. I guess one is for something worldbuilding-y and the other one for "How do I bake cake?" $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Any question I try to flag has this option. Should I post a screenshot or something? $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ Seems like it:) would make it clearer $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:16
  • $\begingroup$ I see this : i.stack.imgur.com/sUJ05.jpg $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe it's different because you're a moderator. I'll post my screenshot $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:19
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, and since I'm a Mod, I can't flag questions. If I do, they get closed instantly. $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ I think it is because we - having <500rep can only flag, but he has a vote to close. $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ For what it's worth, I see the same thing as @Vincent, so at least it's not a mod thing. It could be a 500+ rep thing, though. $\endgroup$
    – HDE 226868 Mod
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:25
  • $\begingroup$ I suspect this is specific to the flag-to-close interface, meaning it applies to people who don't yet have the vote-to-close privilege. $\endgroup$ Feb 7 '16 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Vincent I added the screenshot you posted to my answer, I hope you are fine with it :) $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:28
  • $\begingroup$ @fi12 thanks, Vincent :D $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:31
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As far as your question is concerned, I would say you assume right.

This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the scope defined in the help center.

This flagging reason is for questions, that are sort of worldbuilding related. The help center says not to ask questions on

  • Actions of individual characters, rather than elements of the world they inhabit
  • Character building
  • Elements of plot
  • ...

So a question that asks about character building should get flagged with this reason. Whereas the other reason

Blatantly off-topic (this question has nothing to do with worldbuilding)

is basically for questions like

How do I bake a chocolate cake?


This seems to be only related to flagging posts (Users with <500 reputation), as this close reason does not appear for close voting (Thanks @Vincent for the screenshot):

enter image description here

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So... it turns out that we have defined two custom close reasons, the idea-generation one and the first one you're seeing. I am not sure why that first one exists. Maybe at the time it was created there wasn't a "just plain off-topic" option and there is now? Maybe it's always been there but the mods didn't notice? Maybe we were distracted by unicorns? :-)

I'll consult with the other mods; I suspect the answer is to just remove that first, generic custom reason.

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  • $\begingroup$ (!Opinionated!) I am not sure, but I sort of like the distinction. The first one marks questions that are at least somehow related to what this site is, and that should maybe be looked at again (depending on the results of the current on-off-topic discussions), whereas the later marks questions that should be killed with fire $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:36
  • $\begingroup$ @T3H40 ah, I see. So maybe the first one needs to have a few more words or something? $\endgroup$ Feb 7 '16 at 18:38
  • $\begingroup$ As there are uncertainties I would say so, but I have no clue how exactly. I will think about it, and maybe I can come up with a suggestion tomorrow. $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:39
  • $\begingroup$ @T3H40 Here are the two solutions: either delete the first one entirely, or reword the first to something like: This question is related to the topic of worldbuilding, but it needs revised in order to fall within the scope defined in the help center. $\endgroup$
    – fi12
    Feb 7 '16 at 18:42
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest that proposals to reword the first be suggested as new answers to this question so they can be voted on. Thanks! $\endgroup$ Feb 7 '16 at 18:44
  • $\begingroup$ @fi12 sure, you can claim a part of that victory! This confusion only comes up for people who flag to close, meaning people who don't have enough reputation to vote to close, so I guess it flew under the radar for a while. (You don't see the "blatantly off-topic" option when voting to close, but that's apparently a network-wide default for close flags. I've tested that on another site where I don't have enough reputation to vote to close.) $\endgroup$ Feb 7 '16 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ We're going to be reviewing all the custom close reasons once we've finished the current "off/on topic" discussion so I suggest we hold off until then and keep this post in mind for that. $\endgroup$
    – Tim B
    Feb 7 '16 at 19:55
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When voting to close on an off-topic question, the reasons available are:

  • note: They are placed in no particular order since different users are offered different options according to the privileges they have.

This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the
scope defined in the help center.

Everyone is able to see this.

Questions about Idea Generation are off-topic because they tend to result in list answers with no objective means to compare the quality of one answer with the others. For more information, see What's wrong with idea-generation questions?.

This too, but idea generation is a different close reason than off-topic.

Blatantly off-topic.

This option is only available to users with less than 500 reputation. It's the default off-topic option of Stack Exchange. It can't be edited here.

This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network

This option is available to users with more than 500 reputation. These users can vote to close and migrate questions to other sites.

Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)

That is another default close reason offered for anything that doesn't fit in the other options.




Users with less than 500 reputation are the only one to see

This question does not appear to be about worldbuilding, within the
scope defined in the help center.and the Blatantly off-topic.

and

Blatantly off-topic.

That's where the confusion comes from. Personally, I think the first option is clearer and it links to the appropriate help section.

One solution would be to include a mention on the other close reason that if users see both of them, they can chose whichever they want because, in the end, they mean the same thing.

Also, these are just flags. The community will review them and when they do, both will appear as off-topic flags.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I wouldn't want the custom reason (which can ultimately show up on the notice on a closed question) to refer to an option in a UI seen only by low-reputation users. But other than that, I agree with this answer. I think we can refine the wording of the first in a way that guides low-rep flaggers while still being a self-contained close reason. $\endgroup$ Feb 7 '16 at 19:44
  • $\begingroup$ Just one thing: This question belongs on another site in the Stack Exchange network "This option is available to users with more than 500 reputation." - this is true, but not exclusively. <500rep Users also have this option to flag for migration to meta. $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 8 '16 at 6:33
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As requested by Monica Cellio in the comments, here is my suggestion for the new wording of the close flag reason:

This question seems to be related to fiction and worldbuilding, but violates one or more of the criteria under the what not to ask section in the help center.

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Here is my suggestion for the first reason as requested by Monica Cellio in the comments:

This question is related to the topic of worldbuilding, but it needs to be revised in order to fall within the scope defined in the help center.

for the second:

This question is completely unrelated to the topic of worldbuilding, and cannot be revised to fall within the scope defined in the help center.

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  • $\begingroup$ it needs to be revised in order to fall within the scope defined in the help center. - I do not think that's exactly true. As far as I undersand, if the question can be revised to fit the criteria, it should be edited, not closed. $\endgroup$
    – T3 H40
    Feb 8 '16 at 7:33
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    $\begingroup$ @T3H40 it should be put on hold while it is in a state that doesn't fit the site, and then reopened after editing. Being put on hold is meant to be temporary; the goal is to prevent people from answering what's going to be a moving target. $\endgroup$ Feb 8 '16 at 13:52
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My proposal

This question does not meet the on-topic criteria for Worldbuilding in the help center although it may not be blatant about it.

This is the one from @T3H40's answer without the part about being related to writing/worldbuilding. The "Blatantly off-topic" choice does not always show, so this choice should cover that situation as well.

Note that while this uses the word blatant to connect to the other reason, it does not say that you can't select it for blatantly off-topic questions. For people who can see both options this should provide a distinction. For those who can only see this option, I think that phrase is weak enough to be harmless.

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