In my humble opinion, the current off-topic reasons are not great (criticisms below) so in this meta post, I propose replacements. Think of this as a first draft to encourage discussion and feedback.

I aim to make the close reasons clear so people with 500+ reputation, who have the ability to vote to close but are not overly familiar with the site, won't hesitate to vote off-topic questions as off-topic. (I.e., they think ah, that's exactly what's intended by this off-topic reason.)

Proposed replacements (first draft):

Here's a rough idea of what I'm thinking of proposing replacing them with:

This question is unrelated to the teachings of Islam. This includes questions about politics, personal advice (including counselling and peer support), the Arabic language, and requests for dream interpretation. When it's not obvious, questions should include what the author aims to learn about Islam. See: What are the established off-topic reasons?

Questions which tend to result in arguing have been declared off-topic. This includes confrontational "defend yourself" questions, criticisms phrased as questions, and questions asking to pass judgement or pit one ideology against another. See: What are the established off-topic reasons?

Other (add a comment explaining what is wrong)

There's room for an additional close reason also. Some candidates are:

  1. No-effort and overly wordy questions motivated by this post What should we do about no-effort-shown questions?:

    Bare-bones questions and overly long questions tend to attract poor answers. Authors can improve such questions by highlighting the specific Islam-related question they want answered, adding their motivation for asking, describing what they know about the topic, and by adding appropriate references (e.g. to the Qur'an and Sunnah). Overly long questions should be pruned back to remove unnecessary material so potential answerers can quickly find the actual question.

  2. Fatwa requests, which was raised here We need to set a standard for fatwa questions.

    A version by III-AK-III:

    Islam.SE is not a fatwa site. This question belongs a fatwa site as the case has more than one condition that makes it specific to an individual or under specific conditions, which requires a certified scholar to answer.

    Although I would word it differently (e.g. "Islam.SE" is informal; "belongs a fatwa site" or you could e.g. ask an imam in person [or, perhaps just ask your family/friends!]; and "...more than one condition that makes it..." would need careful checking to see what would actually be deemed off-topic if we use this rule; "under specific conditions" is not clear enough).

    This is not a fatwa site, more like an Islam study group. While questions may be motivated by personal reasons, questions which are limited to a specific individual or ask about a once-off circumstance have been declared off-topic.

Current off-topic close reasons:


Closure statistics:

The 90-day closure statistics are:

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My feedback on the current close reasons:

  1. The "culture and behaviour" close reason links to a mismatched meta post about "peer support" (and not about culture and behaviour). Moreover, every question unrelated to Islam is off-topic, not just culture and behaviour.

  2. The politics and Arabic close reasons are so seldom used, I don't think we need them. They can easily be merged into a general "not about Islam" close reason.

  3. I feel like we need a close reason for "confrontational" questions, e.g. defend yourself questions, debates and/or apologetics. Much like the one proposed here: A new off-topic closure reason.

Related posts:

  • +1 We really need to make some changes. We get so many questions that would be closed on any other SE site, and yet, I struggle to find the reason for flagging them in the given options. The number of "peer support" questions that we get are unreal. They may be related to Islam ("what should I do, per Islam?"), but they don't belong here, at least not in their given format.
    – Student
    Jun 11, 2017 at 16:48
  • Are questions asking for a translation of an Islamic book considered on topic? Example: Is there an english translation of Ibn al Jawzi's Minhaj al qaṣidin.
    – III-AK-III
    Jun 13, 2017 at 3:23
  • I don't know; it's the kind of thing we need separate meta posts for. Jun 13, 2017 at 6:02

1 Answer 1


Just so everyone's on the same page, I would recommend reading Shog9's post at How do moderators make changes to the site-specific closed question reasons? if you've not done so yet.

While I agree with the need to update our off-topic close reasons, and I also agree with the list compiled at What are the established off-topic reasons?, I have some very real problems with the proposed ones here.

The main problem, I think, is that they're trying too hard to be all-encompassing, to encapsulate everything that's off-topic into three paragraphs. This is mostly unnecessary, and just takes focus away from giving specific advice about that topic, why it's off-topic and, when possible how it can be improved.

For example, the This question is unrelated to the teachings of Islam proposal covers four topics:

  1. Politics: Rarely constructive and deemed off-topic mostly as a matter of precaution: Allowing them is just going to make a mess.
  2. Personal Advice: Generally welcome as long as it's generalized rather than specific.
  3. Arabic Language: Definitely on-topic in a lot of Islamically-relevant contexts. Definitely off-topic otherwise.
  4. Dream Interpretation: Pretty much always off-topic; ask a professional, not random strangers on the Internet.

Each of these are off-topic for different reasons, and not universally so. By lumping them together, you lose the ability to explain any of these distinctions in the close reason itself, which doesn't really help the questioner improve their own questions. Arguably more problematically, it also implies that if one of the topics can be made on-topic relatively easily (e.g. Arabic Language or Personal Advice) then all of them can.

In addition, it's pretty much going to end up being used as a catch-all in much the same way that the current "culture and behaviour" one is when voters just want a question closed but can't bother to give it a specific reason.

The Questions which tend to result in arguing have been declared off-topic. seems mostly fine, but as worded it seems to focus a bit too much on intentionally confrontational posts rather than poorly phrased but potentially legitimate questions. It also probably needs more of an explanation of why they're off-topic, to help the latter actually improve their questions and potentially get them reopened.

It also feels like the Politics reason that's lumped into unrelated to the teachings of Islam would be better off in here somewhere, since that's pretty much also the reason we deem Politics off-topic (likely to cause arguments), but that would require some significant rewording.

Bare-bones questions and overly long questions tend to attract poor answers is pretty solid; it explains not only that the post is off-topic, but also why, and how to fix it. Ironically, it also needs to take its own advice and be pruned back, since this close reason is too overly long to fit within the character limit.

Islam.SE is not a fatwa site is mostly fine, but I think it's a little too specific. In my experience, this class of questions is less about being a fatwa and more about being what Christianity.SE calls a "pastoral advice" question, in other words one that's not only better asked of a scholar or a professional rather than strangers on the Internet, but also one that's so specific to one person it's unlikely to be useful to future visitors. While this definitely includes fatawa, this would also include Dream Interpretation and a number of the Personal Advice questions that would otherwise have been closed under the unrelated to the teachings of Islam proposal.

The last three options (Arguing, Bare-Bones and Fatwa) definitely seem to be the best choices to work with, but also definitely still need some work on exact wording. I'll need to put some more thought into them before I'm ready to commit anything.

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