Most close reasons are fairly well known by high-rep users. However, with our newest addition 'not framed in cogsci' finally put in place, potential overlap with older close reasons arises. Therefore, I believe now is a good time to revisit all close reasons and to discuss how to disambiguate among them. If we want to portray ourselves as a cohesive, healthy community, we should try to uphold agreed upon standards.

Our close reasons:

  1. duplicate of...: This question has been asked before and already has an answer.
  2. off-topic because...: This question does not appear to be about cognitive sciences within the scope defined in the help center.
    1. 'self-help': Questions about the behavior of an individual person are off-topic. If you are concerned about a potential medical issue, please seek the advice of a medical professional. For more information, see Why was my self-help question closed as off-topic?.
    2. 'not framed in cognitive sciences': This question is not framed within the cognitive sciences. It is based on assumptions which are not made explicit, are not well-motivated (e.g., referenced), or are not held to be true within the cognitive sciences. For more information, see Why was my question closed as “not framed in cognitive sciences”?
    3. Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)
  3. unclear what you're asking: Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.
  4. too broad: Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question.
  5. primarily opinion-based: Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

How do they overlap, and when should one be chosen over the other? Where does disagreement arise regularly, and how should we ideally deal with those situations?

1 Answer 1


As a first guideline, I suggest to go over the list from top to bottom and pick the first close reason which applies. I'm not certain whether SE corporate listed the close reason in this order intentionally or not, but the ordering makes perfect sense.

  1. When you can close as duplicate, you effectively answer the question. This should thus be preferred over putting the question unnecessarily on hold.
  2. When you can already discern a question is off-topic, there is no point in asking for clarification or considering how broad or opinion-based answers are expected to be; modifications would still make the question off-topic.
  3. If a question seems on-topic but is unclear, judging whether or not it is too broad or primarily opinion-based seems premature. When uncertain, prefer this close reason over the remaining two.
  4. Once a question is on-topic, it is all too common for it to be too broad (either containing multiple questions or simply entailing too broad a topic).
  5. Lastly, even an on-topic well-focused question can ask for personal opinions rather than objectively observable answers.

Second, I feel the self-help close reason is used all too often to close questions just because they are about "the behavior of an individual person", regardless of whether or not the OP is seeking medical help—arguably the main reason this close reason was introduced. Historically, the close reason obtained wider use to allow closing sub-par questions for which no suitable close reason was available. We have one now! I suggest to use 'not framed in cognitive sciences' for these anecdotal and personal questions instead.

Third, a potential overlap exists between 'too broad' and 'not framed in cogsci'. Often, the mere fact that the OP did not do any initial research requires the answer to be overly broad. The root cause is the question does not live up to the expectations of this community and should thus be closed as 'not framed in cogsci' (note that this also follows the close reason order as outlined in the first guideline).

  • 1
    Many props for the "Second" part about self-help vs not framed. I indeed used the self-help to close questions about individual observations, regardless of seeking advice. I think if we stick to these proposed steps, most of the ambiguity is resolved. In this post, the ambiguity is also discussed: cogsci.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2281/… Commented Aug 14, 2017 at 7:20

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