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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.


It's been a bit so we're going to start acting on some of the answers here.

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  • The topic is questions, and in the last paragraph you only mention answers. I'm confused.
    – Tim
    Dec 28, 2021 at 14:56
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    @Tim - answers to this question are proposals for how we should draft the new close reasons.
    – Doktor Mayhem Mod
    Dec 28, 2021 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? Dec 29, 2021 at 21:29
  • @topomorto it's described here: music.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/2139/…
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 29, 2021 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, 2021 at 21:54
  • So apart from "specific equipment", what would the basic thrust of the other 3 be? "basic analysis", "transcribing", and "identifying"...? Dec 30, 2021 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, 2021 at 1:10
  • Just wondering where things are with the updates. Are they completed, or is there more to come?
    – Aaron
    Mar 9 at 13:51
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    @Aaron I'd like there to be updates on this, but there have been very few people participating in this discussion recently. For example, your proposal was updated with an actual reason the 20th of February, but no one has voted on it. I don't mind keeping the discussion alive, but I don't like pushing big changes like this through without the community.
    – Dom Mod
    Mar 9 at 15:09
  • Is this still in process? If yes, would a proposal to add "plagarism" to the spam/abusive guidance fit into the overall changes being made?
    – Aaron
    May 28 at 21:15
  • @Aaron Spam/abusive flags are outside of this discussion. The wording of those is network wide so maybe bringing up the discussion on the SE meta. They are typically reported with custom flags to link the plagiarized consent, but it would be nice to have either the spam flag or abusive flag call out things against the terms of service like plagiarism. As for this post, I'd like to continue with it, but without the community input it's hard to go any further.
    – Dom Mod
    May 28 at 21:40
  • Between discussion/comments and votes, is one more important than the other in terms of moving ahead?
    – Aaron
    May 28 at 21:49

6 Answers 6

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NOTE: This proposal assumes a new close reason, as opposed to adding it to the existing "opinion-based" close reason. See also the original proposal, below.


Brief description:

Evaluations or recommendations regarding individual musical or technical ability or development are off topic.

Usage guidance:

This question asks for feedback regarding an individual's musical or technical ability or development. If the question relates to a specific interpretive or technical problem, please help the user clarify and focus the question. Note that questions about physical limitations are on topic, but only up to the point where they request medical advice or evaluation, which is off topic.

Post notice close description:

This question was closed because it asks for an evaluation of an individual's musical or technical ability or development. It is not currently accepting answers. If you have a question about an interpretative or technical issue arising in a specific piece of music, please revise. For an evaluation or recommendation regarding personal ability, please post in our chat room.

Post owner guidance:

Your question asks for an evaluation of an aspect of your musical skill or development. Such questions are generally answerable only by opinions and are best asked directly to a professional teacher. You may find helpful guidance by posting your question in the chat room. If your intention is to ask about a problem arising from a specific piece of music, please revise your question to clarify, including the title, composer, and measure numbers involved, as well as an image of the score if available.

Privileged user guidance:

Suggest the user ask for an evaluation or other guidance in the chat room. If the question regards a specific musical problem, see if it can be rewritten to focus on the measure(s) involved (please include the title and composer, plus an image if available).


Original proposal

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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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.

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  • There's some intriguing cross pollination between "recommendation" and "identification." A question like this one seems to clearly be something we want to be off-topic (based on this, anyway. But it's attracted close votes under "Questions seeking recommendations for specific equipment are off-topic."... Jan 27 at 15:49
  • ... This seems very counter-intuitive (especially to the OP) with "Instead, describe the required function and setting in which the equipment will be used, and ask what you should look for to achieve that." Perhaps we need a separate close-reason for "identification"? Even then, there's a difference between "what pedal are they using in this song" and "can you verify the maker's stamp on this instrument," at least in the explanatory reasons. Jan 27 at 15:51
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    @AndyBonner the 3rd close reason encompass some of that, I'd like to work on rewriting that and spiting it from transcription.
    – Dom Mod
    Jan 27 at 16:05
  • 1
    @AndyBonner See music.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3833/7222. Not perfectly worded, but I think it covers a lot of what you wanted.
    – Dom Mod
    Jan 27 at 21:54
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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.

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    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, 2021 at 23:54
  • @Dom we could tweak to "and can attract spam and answers which will become obsolete".... Dec 29, 2021 at 11:43
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    That's good do you want to edit it into the post?
    – Dom Mod
    Dec 30, 2021 at 0:53
  • Two things: 1. we need to use inline hyperlinks for the close reason and because of that 2. the text + links together doesn't fit the character limit.
    – Dom Mod
    Jan 31 at 3:28
  • I'm able to just finagle it by adding the last sentence it to the "Post notice close description", but other small edits may have to be made to fit the limits elsewhere as a heads up.
    – Dom Mod
    Jan 31 at 3:36
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Could we squeeze in an "or other offsite resource" somewhere into either 1 or 3? I find I'm often using that kind of wording for 'where can I find a book/record/sample/synth voice/music lessons' etc.

Here are a couple of copy/pastes I already have at hand…

I’m voting to close this question because recommendations for off-site information or learning materials tend to be opinion-based & don't add any value to the stack exchange network.

questions seeking specific product or service recommendations, where the answer is likely to be either entirely personal or short-lived as a result of changing markets, are off topic here. Please rephrase your question to describe the problem you're trying to solve or what you do not understand that prevents you from determining the answer yourself.

I’m voting to close this question because questions about locating or naming a particular resource, sound, composition or instrument are often relevant only to the original asker & rarely useful to future readers. They are also an unsearchable resource.

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    We're planing on splitting 3 anyway. I'll try to write up a close reason that includes that in the next day or two. The last few weeks have been kind of crazy for me.
    – Dom Mod
    Jan 26 at 20:27
  • 1
    See music.meta.stackexchange.com/a/3833/7222. Not perfectly worded, but I think it covers a lot of what you wanted.
    – Dom Mod
    Jan 27 at 21:54
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This is a suggestion to split and update part of reason three more focused finding and identifying songs and external resources:

Brief description:

Finding or identifying songs, exercises, artist, instruments, off-site resources, or the like are off-topic.

Usage guidance:

This question asks to find or identify songs, exercises, artist, instruments, off-site resources, or something similar. If the question is not about finding or identifying the above, please help the user edit the question to make it more clear.

Post notice close description:

This question was closed because it asks to find or identify songs, exercises, artists, instruments, off-site resources, or something similar. It is not currently accepting answers. Please use our chat to get some help in this area.

Post owner guidance:

Your question asks to identify or find one of the items above that is most likely not very useful to others as written. You may still be able to get some help in our chat room. If the question can be made more general and less about finding or identifying one of the things listed in the close reason, you may be able to edit it to make it on topic or ask a new question.

Privileged user guidance:

Suggest the user ask in our chat instead if that’s their goal. If the question asker is more into learning about a general concept instead of finding or identifying one of the topics above, lead them to ask a new question or edit the question to be about that.

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The "identification" close reason should be updated to better reflect that it includes "What guitar model is this? <picture of said guitar>" are off topic.

This answer is currently a stub. Please feel welcome to edit to add specific wording.

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