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Stack Exchange sites can create custom close reasons that can be used as an alternative to the default community-specific close reason. Language Learning SE currently has one custom close reason for the main site (proposed back in October 2016). It says,

Questions about grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language are off-topic here. A language-specific site is the appropriate place for these questions, or if such a site does not yet exist, you can propose one on Area 51.

Since this close reason was created, an important change regarding close reasons has taken place: it is now possible to define different texts for different audiences or roles who are viewing or reviewing the closed question. Our current custom close reason still employs the old format, in which everyone sees the same message.

Using the new format for custom close reasons, we can define different formulations for different audiences or roles, to wit:

  • a brief description: the bold header for the close reason (at most 100 characters).
  • usage guidance: the text that will appear in the close menu, advising people when to use the close reason.
  • the close description: the text that will be shown to everyone in the post notice and should be relatively short.
  • the post owner guidance: text that appears in the post notice and is how the question owner (or OP) should fix the question (if possible).
  • the privileged user guidance: information for users with close privilege regarding what the close reason is.

The goal of this question is to gain consensus on what the audience-specific texts should be for the “grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language” close reason. If or when we have defined these new texts, we can contact a CM to edit them into the current close reason. (Simply creating a new close reason and deleting the old one would work technically, but may mess up the close-reason statistics and have unintended consequences for questions that were closed in the past.)

I will post my own suggestions as an answer. Please vote and provide feedback. This should be reviewed widely so as to represent a community consensus. (For similar posts like this one, see Academia SE, Science Fiction & Fantasy SE, Literature SE, French Language SE and my earlier proposal on Language Learning SE. Meta SE does not appear to have a post about this.)


Update 19.09.2021: Tag added. A CM will be contacted to help us making the necessary changes.

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  • I encourage ditching the "Area 51" suggestion; it feels dishonest given that it's virtually impossible for such a site to succeed. Aug 9 at 4:22
  • @RebeccaJ.Stones The Area 51 suggestion exists in the current close reason but I have not included it in the proposed new text (see answer below).
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Aug 9 at 10:18
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Brief description:

Question about the grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language.

Usage guidance (shown to flaggers/close-voters after choosing this close reason):

This question asks for an explanation of grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language rather than asking about techniques or resources for learning or teaching a language. The question may be on topic on a language-specific site.

Close description (shown to everybody, even non-users, viewing the closed question):

This question was closed because it asks for an explanation of grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language rather than asking about techniques or resources for learning or teaching a language. It is currently not accepting answers.

Post owner guidance (shown under the general post notice to the author of a question):

If your question is about how to learn the grammatical rules or other language characteristics mentioned in the question, please edit it to explain what learning method(s) or resources you have used so far. If what you are looking for is a grammatical or linguistic explanation that is on topic on a different Stack Exchange site, please flag your question for moderator attention and request its migration.

Privileged user guidance:

Please check whether this question can either be made on topic or requires migration to a different Stack Exchange site. If the question has other problems and you can think of ways to improve the question and make it on topic, please edit it or guide the question owner to edit it by leaving one or more helpful comments.

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    The current suggestion for "post owner guidance" (currently 465 characters long) needs to be checked for length; they may be a limit that the guidance should not exceed. Update: The maximum length is probably 500 characters. Please bear this in mind when you make suggestions to reword the proposed language.
    – Tsundoku Mod
    Aug 7 at 16:48
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Brief description:

Asks how to use a language

The suggested text works but it's a bit long - the only place this will exist is in the modal on the question close and flag menu and it's designed to be a quick shorthand for the close reason. I'm curious whether something shorter like this would work for y'all?

Usage guidance (shown to flaggers/close-voters after choosing this close reason):

Use this reason when a question asks for an explanation of grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language rather than asking about techniques or resources for learning or teaching a language. Consider leaving a comment directing the user to a language-specific site if there is one for the language they're asking about. If the question is good quality and should be migrated, consider flagging for moderator attention.

The goal of this section of the close modal is to really help users - particularly newer reviewers or flaggers understand when to use this close reason and what else might be appropriate for them to do while they're at it - specifically adding flagging for migration here as a mod could migrate before it ever gets closed.

I initially wanted to move "specific" to modify "language" - i.e. "characteristics of a specific language" but after thinking about it, I'm guessing that questions about how to learn a specific question are likely on topic (e.g. What are some of the best ways to get a toddler started learning Chinese in a non-native home?) and it's the actual questions about the language itself that are not welcome - please let me know if I'm misunderstanding!

Close description (shown to everybody, even non-users, viewing the closed question):

This question was closed because it asks for an explanation of grammatical rules or specific characteristics of a language rather than asking about techniques or resources for learning or teaching a language. It is currently not accepting answers.

Post owner guidance (shown under the general post notice to the author of a question):

If your question is about how to learn the grammatical rules or other language characteristics mentioned in the question, please edit it to explain what learning methods or resources you have used so far. If what you are looking for is how to use or understand a language, that may be on topic on a different Stack Exchange site. If so, please flag your question for moderator attention and request its migration.

I wanted to emphasize the "how to learn" bit, since it seems important. I also feel like the phrasing here might be a bit confusing - the emphasis on "a grammatical or linguistic explanation" - I don't quite know what that means but I think you're saying "We're here to answer questions about how to learn a language - if you want to learn how to use or understand that language, we don't do that here."

Please let me know if this change makes sense - and, of course, please feel free to adjust or reject this suggestion! Oh, and I said "may be on topic" because we don't have sites for every language.

Privileged user guidance:

Please check whether this question can either be made on topic or requires migration to a different Stack Exchange site. If the question has other problems and you can think of ways to improve the question and make it on topic, please edit it or guide the question owner to edit it by leaving one or more helpful comments.

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