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Is it possible to add a closing reason which is along the vein of "No longer relevant"?

Such reason would be very useful for big-lists (which are not frowned upon here) when they become too big (i.e. when users begin to duplicate answers).


Edit: If you have a better closing reason for which we can ask the StackOverlords for, please post it as an answer (one reason per answer please).


Edit 2: I agree that it might be not-very-useful everyday closing reason, but it would be a good option to know that the moderators can close something under this reason. In a recent example, Are there real-life relations which are symmetric and reflexive but not transitive? (also see this) the question was reasonably closed, but with lack of closing reason it was closed for being non-constructive which would be an inaccurate reason to close it.

If the moderators could cast closing reason outside the scope of normal users then a moderator (in this case, Zev) could have closed it for one reason or another which may have been better suited for the question.

The same reasoning is applicable in other questions which become too big to be useful to anyone who hasn't followed them from the start.

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    $\begingroup$ I don't understand why you want to close such big-list questions. Interesting answers may pop up later when new users arrive and see these questions, so why stop them from adding those answers? Users can post duplicate answers to any question, but I don't suppose you want to close all questions. $\endgroup$ – TMM Jan 5 '13 at 16:41
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    $\begingroup$ @TMM: This is particularly aimed at questions whose answers are often short and "popular" rather than "deep and meaningful", one great example is the recently asked question about real life relations which are not transitive. Another example is theorems every mathematicians should know. In both cases you see that people eventually start repeating each other and there is very little added value to the conversation. It's not about denying people from giving a second viewpoint on the same answer, it's when the answer is just a single line or two. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 5 '13 at 16:44
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    $\begingroup$ I still don't see a point for closing questions only because the answers are short, or because duplicate answers may come up. Sure, when I see many similar answers to the same question I also wonder why those users thought it was necessary to add another similar answer. But that happens to many questions, e.g., this question as well. $\endgroup$ – TMM Jan 5 '13 at 17:12
  • $\begingroup$ @TMM: Questions which garner too many duplicate answers will get closed regardless of whether there is a selectable reason which matches up to the real reason. The two questions mentioned by Asaf are (currently) closed: Are there real-life relations which are symmetric and reflexive but not transitive?, Proofs that every mathematician should know? $\endgroup$ – user642796 Jan 5 '13 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ I thought the usual policy was to protect the question. That, and we should actively downvote duplicate answers and encourage the later answerer to delete the duplicate. Do you think this is insufficient? $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 5 '13 at 17:43
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    $\begingroup$ @Arthur: Do you mean those questions will get closed because users vote to close those questions? I think it's terrible to close a question only because some people post duplicate answers. You should discourage the people who post those answers not to do that, and not discourage the OP from asking more such interesting questions. Closing should be an extreme measure for questions which are bad, and not for good questions with bad answers. $\endgroup$ – TMM Jan 5 '13 at 19:26
  • $\begingroup$ @TMM: If you follow those threads you'll see that eventually those threads become... uselessly open. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 5 '13 at 19:35
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf: Why are they "uselessly open"? Because the initial question was bad? Or because the subsequent (duplicate) answers are bad? Like I said, if the problem is not the question, I strongly disagree with closing the question, and I think protecting those questions (from bad answers) is much more appropriate. $\endgroup$ – TMM Jan 5 '13 at 19:45
  • $\begingroup$ @TMM: Because at some point you pretty much said all that there is to say on something. Especially something big-listy. Many of these questions are already protected, but how is this going to be useful when users with sufficient reputation just post again and again? People prefer to post-and-delete later (plus they might garner two upvotes and three down, which sums to +14 reputation) rather than read through 50 answers. It should be perfectly fine to let a conversation run its course and stop. But locking prevents future votes and comments, so locking is the wrong solution. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 5 '13 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf It seems that the number of reasons to close cannot be increased. At least Atwood was of this opinion, although his answer directly addresses another screen of the closing dialog. So, if you are proposing to add "no longer relevant", which of the existing options should be removed? $\endgroup$ – user53153 Jan 5 '13 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ @Pavel: Isn't his comment only relevant for migration paths? $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 5 '13 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf As noted, it directly addresses another screen of the closing dialog. But the reason given ("Don't make me think") applies to other screens as well. I wasn't able to find a discussion of that particular screen on Meta.SO, so the following is only my guess: no longer relevant was removed to make room for another option. $\endgroup$ – user53153 Jan 5 '13 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ "Many of these questions are already protected, but how is this going to be useful when users with sufficient reputation just post again and again?" Do you think this is happening in the existing protected questions? I don't see it, but I would be grateful for empirical evidence to the contrary. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 5 '13 at 20:41
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    $\begingroup$ @TMM: I think that certain questions get to a point where additional answers are trivial variations of previous responses. This is nothing against the question but it is simply a matter that additional answers are very unlikely to add anything to the discussion, but just add to the clutter. The fact that such questions are at times closed with stated reasons that indicate that there is a problem with the question is troubling. I would much prefer an additional option to make it more clear that while the question itself is perfectly fine, the matter is considered closed (settled). $\endgroup$ – user642796 Jan 5 '13 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ I see both of my comments have been ignored entirely. If I offended someone in the past to receive this sort of snubbing, I'd like to know about it. $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 6 '13 at 3:16
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The option no longer relevant was in existence about 3 years ago (MathOverflow's frozen software still has it), but was removed across the network. Atwood's explanation was

We are merging close reasons; there were too many, and they were redundant.

and later in comments:

how is it no longer relevant? No other user in the world will ever have that problem? If so, then see "too localized".

I'm skeptical that SE will put it back. They appear to insist on keeping the number of items in dialogs down to five: for example, whenever StackOveflow adds a new migration path to the options (and they do have a lot of likely migration destinations), they must remove another one.


I'd like to suggest a different solution: multiple levels of protection. It should be possible to super-protect the "garbage magnet" questions so that only users with, say, 1000 reputation on the site will be able to answer them. The normal level of protection requires only 10 points on the site; this is enough for most situations but possibly not for all.

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I am opposed to closing questions for being "no longer relevant". As far as I can tell, no one has yet given any concrete examples of actual problems that these questions are causing for the community, apart from vague feelings of annoyance and distaste among some users.

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  • $\begingroup$ (Also, re: "locking prevents future votes and comments, so locking is the wrong solution." No one mentioned locking. Protected $\ne$ locked.) $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 7 '13 at 7:09
  • $\begingroup$ I mentioned locking. I mentioned it because at some point you want to just have the thread closed for further answers. Protection does not give this option, as you know. $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 7 '13 at 8:37
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    $\begingroup$ The best example is math.stackexchange.com/questions/2949 everyone can add an answer. But if you don't intend to read through 96 already given answers to find out whether or not your answer was given, then you shouldn't post it. I don't think anyone would waste that much time. Too localized is a bad closing reason, but that's what we have. Similarly with the recent math.stackexchange.com/questions/268726 which already has a few excessive and deleted answers. No one argues that all big-lists should see the end of this closing stick. [cont] $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 7 '13 at 8:48
  • $\begingroup$ [...] But it is reasonable to expect that when a question garners nearly a 100 answers it will be too big to actually contribute anything, however if a question attracted nearly a 100 answers surely everyone could post an answer, and many people would like to post an answer. Regardless to such answer preexisting (see my previous comment). $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 7 '13 at 8:50
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks for letting me know of some actually problematic threads. I will think about them and update my opinion. At first glance, though, the first question you linked to matches almost exactly with the FAQ's example of a bad question that one should not ask on StackExchange, to quote: avoid asking subjective questions where… every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?” $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 7 '13 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry it took so long! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 7 '13 at 9:12
  • $\begingroup$ You came through in the end -- it's all good! :) $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 7 '13 at 9:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Asaf and Rahul: note that the first example that Asaf gave was originally asked when the site was spanking new, and the community was still discovering what questions are on topic and what not. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jan 7 '13 at 11:54
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: Is it safe to say, then, that the question would be closed for being too subjective if it were asked now? $\endgroup$ – Rahul Jan 7 '13 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Rahul: I would use "safe to say", but I suspect that the community has grown a bit less tolerant of such open ended questions over the past few years. $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jan 8 '13 at 8:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Willie: Past few years... the site has barely made it to the 2.5 years mark! That's a pretty broad use of the "past few years" you have there! :-) $\endgroup$ – Asaf Karagila Jan 8 '13 at 23:32
  • $\begingroup$ @Asaf: well.... $2.5 > 2$.. :-p $\endgroup$ – Willie Wong Jan 9 '13 at 8:34
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While I agree with the sentiment expressed in Asaf's proposal, I think that the reason proffered doesn't quite match with the intention (and it seems to me to be too close to either "too localized" or being subject to deletion).

I would instead propose "sufficiently explored/answered" with a description along the lines of "Answers have become repetitive and new answers are extremely unlikely to add anything to the discussion."

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