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Almost four years ago there was a discussion on Meta that lead to formulating the "not about statistics" default close reason description as following:

This question appears to be off-topic because EITHER it is not about statistics, machine learning, data analysis, data mining, or data visualization, OR it focuses on programming, debugging, or performing routine operations within a statistical computing platform. If the latter, you could try the support links we maintain.

I think that we should discuss this close reason again. My feeling is that this close reason is unclear for some users because of the "... EITHER ... OR ..." formulation. I've seen people arguing "but it relates to statistics" in case of software questions, where they read "OR" as "AND" and the decision was unclear for them.

Moreover, we have a large number of software questions, including questions asking for code review. It often seems to be confusing for users that the question needs to be supplemented with reproducible example for us to consider migrating it to StackOverflow.com.

I would suggest that we extracted from the "not about statistics" the strictly "software" reason that mentions:

  1. software/programming is off-topic on our site,
  2. code review is off-topic on the whole SE network,
  3. questions without reproducible example are off-topic on the whole SE network.

My suggestion is to split the current close reason into two reasons like (I don't insist on such wording):

This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about statistics, machine learning, data analysis, data mining, or data visualization.

and

This question appears to be off-topic because it asks for code review, or focuses on programming, debugging, or performing routine operations within a statistical computing platform. Programming questions with a reproducible example should be posted on StackOverflow.com. For help with such questions try the support links we maintain.

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    $\begingroup$ NB We squished 4 custom close reasons into 3 because that's the most we were allowed: now SE can give us an extra one if we show them the need for it. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi Jan 29 at 11:35
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    $\begingroup$ I am sympathetic to rewriting this, as it is so often misunderstood. But note that there is a Code Review site on SE. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Jan 29 at 11:46
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    $\begingroup$ @NickCox yes, but it focuses not on checking code with bugs, but improving working code codereview.stackexchange.com/help/on-topic , so "my code doesn't work" would be off-topic there as well. $\endgroup$ – Tim Jan 29 at 11:50
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    $\begingroup$ Still true that "code review is off-topic on the whole SE network" is not the case. $\endgroup$ – Nick Cox Jan 29 at 11:51
  • $\begingroup$ @Scortchi If we can get one more custom close reason, perhaps 'abandoned by OP after request for clarification was ignored' would be more useful? I encounter that quite often and it does not fall into any existing category. $\endgroup$ – mkt Feb 7 at 10:48
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    $\begingroup$ @mkt: If that clarification's needed to answer the question, it should be closed as "unclear what you're asking"; if not, why close it at all? To put it another way, whether a question's clear enough to be answered doesn't depend on whether or not specific clarifications have been requested. Anyway, I believe we would be allowed yet another custom close reason, if we could convince SE we need it. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi Feb 7 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Scortchi Hmmm, you're right. I thought that the relevant comments do not appear in the VTC queue. But I am now seeing comments when reviewing, so I guess I was wrong about that. $\endgroup$ – mkt Feb 8 at 7:28
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Certainly it'd be good to split this close reason into two. How about "particular software" rather than "such questions"?

This question appears to be off-topic because it asks for code review, or it focuses on programming, debugging, or performing routine operations within a statistical computing platform. Programming questions with a reproducible example should be posted on StackOverflow.com. For help with particular software try the support links we maintain.


But this text has 428 characters (including the URLs), & we're limited to 400:

This question appears to be off-topic because it asks for code review, or it focuses on programming, debugging, or performing routine operations within a statistical computing platform. Programming questions [with a reproducible example](https://stackoverflow.com/help/mcve) should be posted on StackOverflow.com. For help with particular software try the [support links we maintain](https://stats.meta.stackexchange.com/q/793).

So we have to trim it down a bit, unless anyone knows a way to compress the URLs.

How about "routine use of statistical software" rather than "performing routine operations within a statistical computing platform":

This question appears to be off-topic because it asks for code review, or it focuses on programming, debugging, or routine use of statistical software. Programming questions with a reproducible example should be posted on StackOverflow.com. For help with particular software try the support links we maintain.

That gives 394 characters:

This question appears to be off-topic because it asks for code review, or it focuses on programming, debugging, or routine use of statistical software. Programming questions [with a reproducible example](https://stackoverflow.com/help/mcve) should be posted on StackOverflow.com. For help with particular software try the [support links we maintain](https://stats.meta.stackexchange.com/q/793).

So we'll ask community managers for this additional close reason in a week or so, unless anyone can think of further improvements to the text.

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  • $\begingroup$ +1 It would be nice if we could work in error messages, package / software requests as well. (I suppose we cold say "debugging" covers error messages, but it isn't clear that people recognize that.) Also, how many characters is this & how many do we have? $\endgroup$ – gung Jan 29 at 14:25
  • $\begingroup$ @gung: Oh! ... 428 characters with the URLs. As far as I know we still only have 400 characters. [I just checked - "too long by 28 characters".] $\endgroup$ – Scortchi Jan 29 at 14:36
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    $\begingroup$ Maybe "performing routine operations within a statistical computing platform" $\to$ "using statistical software" to reduce chars count? $\endgroup$ – Tim Jan 29 at 14:52
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    $\begingroup$ @Tim: Good, that's 385. Or "routine use of statistical software" gives 394 - I like having "routine" in there. $\endgroup$ – Scortchi Jan 29 at 15:03

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