As another year of Music SE comes to a close, it brings an opportunity for us as a site to reflect and make the site better. One way we can do this is through a newish global SE improvement. The close reason interface was updated within the last year to add more community guidance from the user who posted it to the users reviewing the question to close/reopen. This is an example from meta SE we should use as a template.

For simplicity, here are the current close reasons and number:

  1. Questions seeking recommendations for specific equipment are off-topic, because they are primarily opinion based. Instead, describe the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that.
  2. Basic analysis questions, such as "What key is this song in?", are off-topic. Questions should be substantial and refer to a well-defined work or subsection, including a concrete reference (sheet music, etc.).
  3. Questions about transcribing or finding a particular song, including identifying chords, notes, key and time signatures, or similar elements, are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers.

We should also use this opportunity to not only clean up usage and guidance, but also try to carve space for a fourth close reason based on trying to make the current off-topic/close reasons lineup as best we can. For example, close reason #3 is jam packed and will most likely split during this process.

To keep voting and discussion on an answer simple, please try to limit to one answer to one close reason. You can suggest as many as you want still. If you really wanted to, you could even do one subsection of one close reason per answer.

  • The topic is questions, and in the last paragraph you only mention answers. I'm confused.
    – Tim
    Dec 28 '21 at 14:56
  • 1
    @Tim - answers to this question are proposals for how we should draft the new close reasons.
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Dec 28 '21 at 17:52
  • #2 seems to overlap with the bulk of the wording in #3 - or put another way, all of #3 apart from the bit about 'finding a particular song' seems like it could be covered by #2. Would it be possible to remind us what kind range of situations each of those close reasons is intended to cover?
    – topo morto
    Dec 29 '21 at 21:29
  • @topomorto it's described here: music.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2139/…
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 29 '21 at 21:52
  • I'd also really like to use this as an opportunity for a 4th close reason to help make certain reasons pop more and not cram them into one reason.
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 29 '21 at 21:54
  • So apart from "specific equipment", what would the basic thrust of the other 3 be? "basic analysis", "transcribing", and "identifying"...?
    – topo morto
    Dec 30 '21 at 1:03
  • @topomorto yeah that's the basic idea in my mind. Only change would be make the basic analysis more missing analysis requirements and close things that aren't quite analysis as the transcribing close reason.
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 30 '21 at 1:10

This is a suggestion to update the first close reason:

Brief description:

Recommendations for specific hardware, software, apps, equipment models/brands, or the like are off-topic.

Usage guidance:

This question asks for a product recommendation of either hardware, software, app, equipment brands/models, etc. If the question relates to general usage of hardware, equipment, or software please help the user edit to make it more clear.

Post notice close description:

This question was closed because it is about recommending a specific hardware, software, apps, equipment models/brands or the like. It is not currently accepting answers. If you wish to ask for a specific software or hardware recommendation, that type of question is best asked on either our Software or Hardware Recommendations sites.

Post owner guidance:

Your question asks for a recommendation of a specific product which attracts spam and will eventually become obsolete. You may still be able to get some help in our chat room. If the question is not about getting a recommendation for a specific product, see if it can be rewritten in the manner stated here. Try describing the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that.

Privileged user guidance:

Suggest the user ask for the recommendation in our chat instead if that’s their goal. If the question is not about getting a recommendation for a specific product, see if it can be rewritten in the manner stated here.


Seems like a good opportunity to improve the user experience, especially for new users. I like Dom's suggestions regarding specific equipment - I have a slightly different suggestion for the Post owner guidance wording:

Post owner guidance:

Your question appears to ask for a recommendation of a specific product. Questions asked in this way make it harder for answers to suggest different techniques or approaches for solving the problem, and can attract spam and answers which will become obsolete. If possible, try to re-write the question in terms of what you want to achieve, as described here. If you really do want a product recommendation, you may still be able to get some help in our chat room.

  • 1
    I like it, but I think the spam still needs to be a part of this since spam is one of the many reasons we don't accept questions like that in general. Explaining decisions on why something may not be appropriate on the site helps show and guide users.
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 28 '21 at 23:54
  • @Dom we could tweak to "and can attract spam and answers which will become obsolete"....
    – topo morto
    Dec 29 '21 at 11:43
  • 1
    That's good do you want to edit it into the post?
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 30 '21 at 0:53

A brief proposal for a new — or maybe just more explicit — close reason:

Questions asking for evaluation of one's technical or musical ability or development should be made clearly off topic for the following reasons:

  1. They are inherently outside SE's goal to maintain a "simple" Q&A format.
  2. At best, they rely on links to video or audio content that can/will eventually go dead, and frequently include neither, making them difficult to interpret.
  3. Answers are near inevitably either opinion based or lists or possible issues, but defy definitive answers (see #1).
  4. The majority will all include the same answer: "find a teacher"

Arguably these are already off-topic, but I believe the language should be made explicit, either as a new close reason (my preference) or as a revision to an existing one (say, "opinion-based").

I believe, however, these questions have value for the asker, the answerers, and future searchers, so, as an alternative, I propose a concerted and routine effort to move them — or encourage their movement — to the chat room. This encouragement could also be part of the text for the close reason.

Initially, I'm offering this as a proposal to gauge interest, but, if there is support, I'll edit to match the format of other answers here, including any discussion comments.

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