As some of you may be aware there are upcoming new changes to how questions will be closed. Read the blog post for some more information.

One of the new changes is the following:

Off-topic closures will include feedback on what specifically is off-topic for that site. (new)

  • Each site will have a list of its own specific pre-selected “Off-Topic” reasons
  • Each closer will either select one of the site's standard reasons from the list (for instance, “Recipe requests are off-topic, although recipe replacements, etc. are allowed”), or,
  • Closers can enter a free-form reason ("Your question appears to be about 'Cat Grooming', which is off-topic for Stack Overflow.")
  • Free-form reasons will be presented as a comments, but the close dialogue will refer the reader to the comments for more info
  • Free-form reasons picked by closers will be available to subsequent close-voters on that question as one of the selections from the list
  • These lists will be determined by the communities, and moderators will be able to update them, subject to review by each other, their community, and the SE team

So, we need to come up with our list, which can contain three items. There is already an item, which is the following:

Questions on programming, PHP, SQL, etc. that do not relate directly to Drupal are off-topic here, but can be asked on Stack Overflow.

The list of the topics that are off-topic, as reported on https://drupal.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic, is the following:

  • Comparison between Drupal and other CMS's, blog software, or similar software
  • Requests for tutorials, and other online resources
  • Requests for writing code from scratch
  • Building a site from scratch
  • Implementing a functionality, or a layout seen in a site, for which only a screenshot or a site URL is provided
  • Issues found in existing modules/themes
  • Issues about drupal.org, or any of its sub-domains
  • Recommendations for hosting

Which other custom reasons should our closing dialog show for the off-topic reason?

  • I just want to know, will that users also intimated, if someone raised the flag to the question. Suppose if users also intimated, it will help them to edit or change the question, before closing the question
    – Bala
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 12:11
  • @Bala If you read through the MSO post, the idea is that the one week hold will be a better indicator that questions need help, rather than outright closure. The fact that edits by the OP will automatically make them candidates for reopening. There have been a whole lot of posts there about how newbies get treated, and this is one way to help the situation.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jun 15, 2013 at 13:06

6 Answers 6


Borrowing from the new Stack Overflow reasons, I really like this one:

Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Tell us what you've tried to do, why it didn't work, and how it should work.

That would stop the zero-effort "I want this, how do I do?" questions from proliferating. Plus we already know it's a valid custom reason, separate from being too broad/etc, otherwise SO wouldn't be using it.

  • 2
    Good idea and I upvoted, but what about the newbies who are no noobs to PHP, just to Drupal? We all were new at one time. How will we prevent alienating them? We don't want "cure worse than sickness" effect, and I see great risk of abuse. I hope you have some counter-measure for it.
    – Mołot
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 8:48
  • @Mołot Newcomers to Drupal is a tricky one I guess. I understand what you're saying, but everyone can show research effort in their question. Everyone can tell us what they've tried themselves and what didn't work. I can't think of a reasonable question that could be asked here for which that wouldn't be true. As far as PHP noobs go - we can't help them in that respect. If their problem is a need to learn PHP, Drupal Answers is the wrong place for them to be. They need tutorials (which we can't provide), and/or Stack Overflow to get them up to speed. I'm not saying we become...
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 8:53
  • ...'knowledge misers' and deliberately hold back PHP help to people who also have a Drupal issue, but our primary (nor secondary, not tertiary even) objective can't be to help teach PHP.
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 8:55
  • I meant people who are not noobs to php. And I agree Drupal noob can show research effort. I'm just afraid this reason might be abused, like "your research effort is not enough, learn more and then ask". Who will decide how much is "minimal"? How will we prevent it skyrocketing up high?
    – Mołot
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 8:57
  • 1
    Oops yeah I read that wrongly, my bad. Trying to define a minimal amount effort is almost impossible, I'm not sure how we'd even come up with loose guidelines for something like that. Better to be a bit more general I think - Does the question contain an explanation of what the OP has already tried? If not, an on-hold vote would be appropriate as we require that to be the case
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 27, 2013 at 9:02

I think the text for

Issues found in existing modules/themes

should be clarified to something like

Issues and bugs in contributed modules and themes (bugs should be reported to the relevant issue queue on Drupal.org)

This is a fairly common reason and I think slightly longer, unambiguous help text would be useful here.

  • My only real concern with this is that there are a bunch of issues in the core queue that are held up (eg, the ones for secure pages), or even have patches that just won't get committed. Contrib modules can often be worse, and are also get abandoned. In these cases, I think asking about workarounds would be a good fit here.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 19:56
  • 3
    Sure, I can agree with that. But for me the important point is that the question needs to show evidence that the person asking has already at least searched the issue queue. For example, I've seen a number of questions recently such as "I tried to install this module but it didn't work." I think these types of questions should go to the module's issue queue if at all possible. Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 1:20

I would like to see the following closing reason, borrowed from Stack Overflow, added to off-topic:

Questions concerning problems with code you've written must describe the specific problem and include valid code to reproduce it. See SSCCE.org for guidance.

This would stop those questions talking in abstract of code and asking why it doesn't work. To know why the code doesn't work, the code is required.

  • 1000 times yes, we need this one
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 12:26

I would LOVE to see a close reason of "This is in the documentation" or "Handbook page available" or something like to those ends. I guess it would be a polite way of saying RTFM (polite because d.o can be a nightmare to navigate sometimes).

Not sure how we would handle the case of someone casting this a close vote though - only way I can think of is encouraging links to be posted in comments before the close vote is cast. That said, if someone is casting a close vote, they should generally be adding a comment as to WHY anyway.

Think this needs discussion - thoughts?

  • 3
    Where would you draw the line? The entire API is documented. There area lot of cases, though, where documentation isn't clear or up to date.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jun 19, 2013 at 19:58
  • In the case of poor docs, then yes - I would suggest answering the question AND then pointing to the docs. I'd also then assume the answerer should address the docs with either a comment or a patch, but that's another thing entirely (and I'm guilty of not doing this as well). My issue is with questions such as this one, where it doesn't seem like OP has even looked for the theming guide (one of the parts of d.o where the docs are pretty damn good).
    – Chapabu
    Commented Jun 20, 2013 at 8:25
  • 2
    I can understand that even after reading the documentation on some APIs or complex to configure modules you might still have questions, but what about ones like "How do I create a view of 10 nodes?" (I'm exaggerating slightly). - Questions that indicate that the user has not tried for themselves to work it out. That would be another use case for this. I don't think it is hard to make a judgement on what is obviously well documented. In response to this the asker might add to their question what docs they have read or what they have already tried.
    – rooby
    Commented Jun 26, 2013 at 11:18

Instead of the closing reason that it already enabled, I would use a different closing reason that has a reference to more than one Stack Exchange site.

Questions on programming, PHP, SQL, etc. that do not relate directly to Drupal are off-topic here, but can be asked on Stack Overflow.

For example, if we get questions that should be asked on Server Fault, I would rephrase the close reason as follows:

Questions on programming, PHP, SQL, etc. that do not relate directly to Drupal are off-topic here, but could be asked on Stack Overflow. Questions on server, networking, or related infrastructure administration that do not relate directly to Drupal are off-topic here, but you may be able to get help on Server Fault, if your question is about a professional server, and not about a home or a development environment. Be sure of checking the question is acceptable in the sites you are going to ask it.

We don't normally get questions that should be asked on different sites, but if that would happen, the description could be expanded to include the new site in the description.

Notice that the links to the other sites takes to their about page, which gives more details about which questions are acceptable from them.

  • I would remove/edit the part about SF. They only really want questions from professional sysadmins (or from people who really know what they are doing), and not general questions about server configuration.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 13:48
  • @MPD I copied the text from the closing reason used on Stack Overflow; I think it should make clear what kind of questions should be asked on Server Fault. At the same time, it makes clear that network questions are generally off-topic for us.
    – apaderno Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 14:07
  • Yeah, I agree about the fact that they are off-topic here. I just know the SF mods are really touchy about questions that get migrated or reasked there. SF wants to be a site for professional sysadmins. Take a look at meta.serverfault.com/questions/3922, which is about a question I migrated.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 14:14
  • @MPD It is also true that we are not going to migrate questions; we are just saying it is off-topic, and that the user could get an answer on other sites. Since we link to their about page, it's not our fault if they don't understand if the question is off-topic. What you say about SF could be said about SO too: Not all the questions are acceptable on SO, and we are not saying the question is surely acceptable on the other sites.
    – apaderno Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 14:40
  • OK, now I can agree with no more doubts :)
    – Mołot
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 14:51
  • Can we add CSS in the initial lists of languages. I see alot of Views Slideshow questions about how to make it work or look a certain way. Views, and Views Slideshow does what it needs to do and works 101% of the time. Customizing it to behave or look a certain way is the realm of CSS and JS that you either know -- or dont. But, is not Drupal API related.
    – tenken
    Commented Jul 19, 2013 at 1:16

I think we should disallow questions like

I want insert high-level, vague specification here. What module does this?


I want insert high-level, vague specification here. How do I do this?

We get a lot of them (I've just taken a cursory glance at the front page and can see at least 3).

The quality of such questions does vary, but generally speaking they're very poor, show zero research effort, refer to a large/full feature that the OP is trying to implement, and are too localised to something that the OP wants for their own project to be helpful to anyone else in the future.

I think it's the distinct and obvious lack of research effort that bothers me most; the tendency is becoming more and more that people are using this site as a personal support forum which we do not want. I believe disallowing this type of question would stop that problem dead in its tracks.

Contrary to that, though, if insert high-level, vague specification here is not in fact vague - and some effort has been shown - I would like to see the question stay open.

Maybe that's just wanting to have my cake and eat it, who knows.


(remember upvotes indiciate agreement, downvotes indicate disagreement on meta sites. Please use them liberally without fear of reprisal :)

  • 2
    The new system will already have "unclear" and "too-broad" as reasons. I don't think we need to explicitly define these as off-topic.
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 15:05
  • And yes, the downvote is from me :)
    – mpdonadio Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 15:05
  • 1
    @MPD You downvoted? Dude, not cool ;) Point taken those are already covered. I guess whether or not we want to see "unclear" and "broad" used a bit more forcefully on these types of question is a different discussion
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jun 13, 2013 at 15:10
  • 1
    I think this is already included in the other one you proposed: "Questions must demonstrate a minimal understanding of the problem being solved. Tell us what you've tried to do, why it didn't work, and how it should work." For requests about modules, the minimal understanding should include also understanding that Drupal.org is the place where to look for modules to use. If there isn't any evidence that the OP searched on Drupal.org, that user didn't show that minimal understanding that is required.
    – apaderno Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 13:44
  • @kiam Yes you're right, the other answer came a couple of weeks after this one. I'm still going to leave this here though, so people can see the bit in bold :)
    – Clive Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2013 at 13:46

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .