If I remember correctly there was a "blatantly off-topic" option in Flagging > Closing > Off-topic (while flagging a question). But while closing this question

What does it mean physical realty of speech sounds

I couldn't find that option.

Is there any particular reason why it is removed? Should we also refrain from using a custom reason/comment like "blatantly off-topic" while close-voting (or flagging for closure) a supposedly off-topic question as I did here?

  • 1
    With the varying changes over time and migration of systems, we changed the close reasons. We also altered the close reasons to be the most commonly used close reasons used. If it's blatantly offtopic though then you can use the "This is not about Ubuntu" close reason, or use a custom one you write out yourself, because that's the closest thing you can get.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 15:14
  • @ThomasWard I actually used the custom option and wrote "blatantly off-topic" in case of the aforementioned question. I was slightly worried whether it's now considered against the "be nice" policy and we should stop using it.
    – pomsky
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 15:20
  • 3
    in recent days, I'd say that its tone would be a little bit harsh and toeing the line there, but as the close reason is no more, it's less of an issue in my opinion.
    – Thomas Ward Mod
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 15:21

2 Answers 2


"Blatantly Off Topic" was created in a time when we envisioned folks becoming horribly lost and asking how to find their lost cat on a site about mathematics.

But as the size and experience-level of the network grew, folks were increasingly using "blatantly off topic" as their default, go-to way to dismiss any user who failed to read their nuanced and ever-growing FAQs in their entirety.

It was felt — and continues to be a sound decision — that if you are going to dismiss a question out-of-hand, you should take a moment to leave a quick note to explain why — which is what the "other" close reason provides; that is of course, unless one of the custom close reasons are a better fit.

And, yes, you should refrain from manually flagging questions "blatantly off-topic" unless you feel there is an exceptional issue that needs addressing. Moderators are not generally here to super-vote a question closed for you.

  • Although the OP here described what they did as "manually flagging," it appears they picked the Other option in the Off-topic dialog and did not raise a custom moderator intervention flag. (One reason I believe this to be the case is that an automatic-looking "voting to close" comment was posted.) Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:23
  • @EliahKagan Yes, sorry for the confusion, wrong choice of words! I have edited it. I didn't raise a custom flag for a moderator to review. I just added a custom reason (viz. "blatantly off-topic") for closing an off-topic (as per my judgement) question. I was wondering whether a comment like that is now considered against the "be nice" policy and if we should stop using that kinda comments directed to especially new users.
    – pomsky
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:32
  • 3
    @pomsky Personally I don't think "blatantly off-topic" inherently violates the "be nice" rule, though of course it's possible to use that phrase and be mean at the same time. (I'm replying here in case Robert Cartaino wants to disagree, but I won't take anyone's silence as confirmation that I'm right.) I think the problem is instead that it is not very helpful. Though that question is off-topic in a blatant way, that's not what's important. What's important is that it's not about Ubuntu. A question that's about Debian instead of Ubuntu is just as off-topic, even if less blatantly so. Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:40

Robert Cartaino's answer, for why the "blatantly off-topic" sub-reason* of the off-topic close reason used to exist and why it doesn't anymore, can't be beat. But as for the specific question you had chosen "Other" for and written a custom comment, I think you may be wondering which of the stock sub-reasons you should've used instead.

For questions that have nothing to do with Ubuntu at all, just use the first selection under off-topic: This is not about Ubuntu. Although the message links to (currently four) other Stack Exchange sites, it applies even to questions that would be off-topic on those sites as well.

Because of its bolded opening text--"This is not about Ubuntu"--it is usually understood. But if I'm worried it might not be understood, I sometimes also write a comment like "This has nothing to do with Ubuntu," or, "You've asked this on Ask Ubuntu, but this question doesn't have anything to do with Ubuntu, does it?" Such comments aren't really necessary, though, and they certainly needn't be posted as a custom off-topic sub-reason.

Sometimes there is a hidden connection of some sort but the question is unclear or needs to be asked in a radically different way. So if you want to say something special, a better thing to say might really be:

Is this [related to Ubuntu](https://askubuntu.com/help/on-topic) in some way? If so, please **[edit]** to clarify.

That looks like this (except that the system will automatically make edit into a link that edits the post):

Is this related to Ubuntu in some way? If so, please edit to clarify.

In any case, that would be reasonable as a regular comment, but I still would not recommend putting something like that into the close dialog.

Still, I don't think it's a big problem that you used a custom sub-reason. Either way, it was going to be closed as off-topic, and indeed, it reads as being just about as blatantly off-topic as any question could be. Using a custom sub-reason needlessly is not something that should be encouraged, but you're still closing the question or (for users with less than 3000 rep) flagging for closure and the reason you have is not wrong.

The main problem is that the comment that gets posted in your name when you do it is pretty useless:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is blatantly off-topic.

To be useful, it would have to have said something like "not about Ubuntu" instead of "blatantly off-topic," so you can just pick that instead of clicking Other.

This is different from a custom moderator intervention flag (i.e., clicking in need of moderator intervention), which must always be tended to manually by a moderator. Those should be used when there's no other flag that does the job. When one uses a custom off-topic sub-reason unnecessarily, one is still using the regular procedure for closing questions.

* I assume there is some official term for this, but I don't know it. In the Stack Exchange Data Explorer, the close reason (like "unclear" or "off-topic") is represented numerically by the CloseReasonTypeId, and what I am calling a "sub-reason" is represented by the CloseAsOffTopicReasonTypeId.

  • Thanks for the template! :)
    – pomsky
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 19:38
  • ... and of course the detailed answer! :)
    – pomsky
    Commented Oct 23, 2017 at 21:01

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