If you've been around for a bit, you have probably noticed that we close a lot of questions! Sometimes the default close reasons are fine, but we've also developed a few guidelines that can feel shoehorned into those categories, or that aren't obvious from the close message. This is especially problematic when people don't leave comments on why they are closing, because for users unfamiliar with the rules, it's not immediately apparent why their question about (what they think is) an interpersonal issue was deemed "off-topic" for a site about interpersonal skills.

For example, some of our rules are:

But we don't have custom close reasons for those (yet).

To that end, there was a discussion in chat a couple days ago asking if we could get custom close reasons for the site - mod Catija responded:

It's really, really difficult to justify close reasons if y'all don't use custom close reasons. Using the "generic "This question does not appear to be about interpersonal skills, within the scope defined in the help center." close reason is not really helping us figure out why questions are closed. The "other" option is there because it tells the user more directly why their question is a bad fit.

The only time you should use the "not about IPS" close reason is if the question is literally not related at all... for example, it's about programming or ... cooking...

It also doesn't help users figure out why their question was closed. If the question's closed because they need to seek professional help, tell them that... the "other" reason automatically creates a comment that says whatever you put in the box, so feel free to link to meta and explain the discussion.


  1. Unless the question is blatantly not about interpersonal issues, use a custom close reason.

  2. Custom close reasons help the user understand why their question is not suitable for the site.

  3. Custom close reasons will allow us to make policy decisions on meta more visible on main.

  4. Custom close reasons can be examined in mod tools, and if we keep using particular custom reason, it will make a strong case towards making that a default option.

Now since this is ... let's discuss!

  • Do you agree/disagree with using custom close reasons more often? Is there a reason you would hesitate to do so?
  • Suggestions for custom close reason comments? (The mod tools count how many questions were closed using a comment, so it's less work to determine what custom reasons are most frequent if we're using the same string all the time.)
  • I should mention that users with <500 rep can't recommend closure flag to close as custom off-topic; there's only one option in the close reason box, to close as "not about IPS".
    – gparyani
    Mar 25, 2018 at 2:15
  • 1
    @gparyani that's OK... flags aren't close votes. All that flagging does is put it in the review queue, so, hopefully reviewers will be able to use the proper close reason themselves.
    – Catija
    Mar 27, 2018 at 21:31

2 Answers 2


Slightly reworded:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it appears to be asking “What should I do?”, which is currently not a good on-topic question for Interpersonal Skills. Instead, tell us your goal, and we will help you achieve that.

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it appears to be asking “What should I do?”, which is [currently not a good on-topic question](https://interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1310/) for Interpersonal Skills. Instead, tell us your goal, and we will help you achieve that.


I'd love seeing more people use custom close reason comments. And if you're going to use the same one a lot, the autoreviewcomments script is a great place to start! You can just add it to your browser (chrome/firefox) as an extension, or as an userscript to use with TamperMonkey or GreaseMonkey.

Cautionary note though: I like these autocomments a lot because I can use them to easily link to the same meta post over and over, but they can't replace personalized notes. So, if a question can be improved, leave a second comment giving more personalized guidance.

I've imported the following snippet as a custom close reason for off-topic what-should-I-do type questions:

###[C] What Should I Do Question.
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because unfortunately, this 
question appears to be asking “What should I do?”, which the community has 
[determined](https://interpersonal.meta.stackexchange.com/q/1310/) to not 
be a good fit for $SITENAME$ Stack Exchange. We can’t decide for you what to 
do; after you determine what you want to do, we can help you with your goal, 
but we can’t make these decisions for you. Sorry

Now, closing a what-should-I-do question is as easy as pressing off-topic, other, the little 'auto' button next to the comment box and insert this close reason :)

  • Just thought id point out that if the link is to IPS, $SITENAME$ becomes redundant
    – Jesse
    Mar 24, 2018 at 18:21
  • @Jesse - When I wrote those and put them in my script originally, I had written "Interpersonal Skills Stack Exchange", not "$SITENAME$", but the script automatically replaced it and I never bothered to replace it since it changes to "Interpersonal Skills" when using the script.
    – Mithical
    Mar 24, 2018 at 18:33
  • Users with <500 rep can't leave custom comments when closing - they can just RC flag as off-topic. There's just one option in the box.
    – gparyani
    Mar 25, 2018 at 2:14
  • @gparyani users with less than 500 rep can't close stuff. Just flag it. So I don't see the problem here?
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Mar 25, 2018 at 8:33
  • Users in the CV queue might just reflexively agree with my flag and not choose a different reason.
    – gparyani
    Mar 25, 2018 at 9:12
  • Oh, yeah, but then we need those people to use custom votes in the queue as well. And as soon as you have comment private, you could flag and comment
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Mar 25, 2018 at 10:46
  • As in, "I'm flagging to close this as off-topic because..."? The problem is, others can't simply choose it and have it automatically upvoted; a close voter would need to leave a redundant comment.
    – gparyani
    Mar 26, 2018 at 6:55
  • 2
    @gparyani eh, personally I don't think it's a huge problem to have a "duplicate" comment if you flag it, this makes it easy for a CV-r to copy-paste (and then can flag the original as NLN). And even if the CV-rs just agree with the default (empty) reason, at least there is some explanation on the question, which is still an improvement.
    – Em C
    Mar 26, 2018 at 13:26

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