There comes a point in every beta site where custom close reasons are discussed and created. I have been with this site for a while (though not from the beginning), and I'd like to hear from the community at large whether we've reached that point.

Are there many closed questions of a particular type that would benefit from a custom close reason?

I can think of one or two classes of question that might benefit from custom close reasons:

  1. It seems to me that book recommendation questions are fairly common among new users, and are almost always off-topic. The close reason for book recs should include a link to a meta post (1 and/or 2), and a link to chat.
  2. Translation requests. These questions, while less common than recommendation requests, seem to come up every once in a while. This close reason, if instituted, should briefly explain the difference between a bad translation question ("translate this for me") and a good one ("Why was this word used in translation?" or "What is the history of this translation?") and link to relevant meta posts.

What are your thoughts on this? Do we need custom close reasons? Should we create other ones? (Keep in mind that we can create up to three reasons that can always be edited/removed/whatever by the mods as needed.) Please respond in answers, rather than comments, so that other users can vote (up and down) on your responses, so as to allow for a clearer consensus to form.

(See also this earlier proposal.)

  • @Mithrandir Is there a character limit on custom close reasons? Jun 11, 2017 at 19:20
  • 2
    @Gallifreyan Yes: 400 characters.
    – Rand al'Thor Mod
    Jun 11, 2017 at 23:47
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    I just want to make one note of something. If you are going to bring a close reason of any kind, make sure that it will be used (look at your mod tools), and make sure you have tons of resources and official posts stating what's wrong with it, provide recommendations for improvement and so on, that would be tagged under the faq tag.
    – Zizouz212
    Jun 21, 2017 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


We should have a custom close reason for recommendation questions

There's a strong consensus that they're off-topic, but there also seems to be a way of changing recommendation questions into valid questions, therefore making them on-topic. I therefore propose the following close reason:

Questions asking for list of works or reading recommendations are off-topic, as they generate opinion-based answers. Try to adapt your question to fit to our Q&A format, or feel free to ask for recommendations in chat or a non-Stack Exchange community.

Open to amendments, feel free to edit.

If one wants to see examples of closed and deleted recommendation questions here, here they are (need +2k rep to view):

And maybe some others (we thank @Mithrandir for finding those for us).

  • That's a lotta questions. Are there any that you can find that are closed and not (yet?) deleted? (I only recently got the ability to see deleted posts.)
    – Shokhet
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:29
  • Search for closed:yes Jun 11, 2017 at 19:30
  • You also may want to look at the SFF custom reason for inspiration.
    – Mithical Mod
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:32
  • In the custom close reason you included a link to one of my answers. Note that the answer is about academic recommendation questions, for which no clear consensus exists. (That particular answer isn't even the top-voted answer in that particular meta discussion).
    – user111
    Jun 11, 2017 at 19:51
  • @Hamlet The question you linked seems to be a duplicate of the question I linked. Jun 12, 2017 at 8:33
  • @Mithrandir I did, thanks. Jun 12, 2017 at 8:42
  • I'm not happy that you are linking to this answer (literature.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/534/…). Again, that answer is only applicable to reference request questions, not to all recommendation questions (it contains no advice about what to do with a question along the lines of "I enjoy reading x and y, can someone recommend another book for me to read?")
    – user111
    Jun 12, 2017 at 13:23
  • @Hamlet The other question I link to does, though: "Don't ask such questions". Jun 12, 2017 at 14:17
  • @Gallifreyan yes, and a grand total of two people voted on it. That can hardly be called a consensus.
    – user111
    Jun 12, 2017 at 17:42
  • @Hamlet Are we talking abut the same thing? You said"I enjoy reading x and y, can someone recommend another book for me to read?", I linked this meta which says "Off-topic". Jun 12, 2017 at 17:44
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    This is now active - we have a custom close reason for recommendations!
    – Mithical Mod
    Jun 23, 2017 at 16:12

I disagree with Gallifreyan; we don't have a clear consensus about recommendation questions to create a custom close reason yet. We all agree that a question along the lines of "I like X; can you recommend some books for me" is off-topic. But the situation is very different for academic recommendation questions. So until that gets clarified; I don't see the point in creating a custom close reason.

  • I think that the policy is probably clear enough for a close reason; however, I can understand how some new users might be confused between one request and another. Maybe the better way to do this would be to indicate in the close reason that some reference requests are okay.
    – Shokhet
    Jun 12, 2017 at 12:48
  • @Shokhet we don't know if reference requests are OK, we don't have a clear policy about them yet.
    – user111
    Jun 12, 2017 at 13:22

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