Last year (2020) saw some changes to the question closure system across the SE network. One of the changes was to introduce audience-specific texts for custom close reasons, so that the OP, close voters, privileged users, and the general public can all get slightly different versions of the same essential explanation of why a question is unsuitable for the site. By default, all versions for existing close reasons are set to the same thing, since there didn't use to be any option to have different versions. Some sites already changed their close reasons by creating separate texts as the system now allows. While Puzzling has the maximum of 3 site-specific custom close reasons, I’m only doing the Needs Attribution one for now.

The current text (taken from here and clocking in at 395 characters) is:

This looks like a puzzle you found elsewhere. For content you did not create yourself, proper attribution is required. If you have permission to repost this, please edit to include (at minimum) where it came from, then vote to reopen. Posts which use someone else's content without attribution are generally deleted.

The following image shows the different boxes that can be filled by mods/CMs with different text. The first two appear in the close/flag dialogue before the post is closed; the last three appear in post notices after the post is closed.

Please note that there is a 500 character maximum for what we can put in any of these boxes, and that’s counting formatting (such as links). With the exception of the first, which has a limit of 100 characters.

  • The Brief description is the bold header for the close reason.
  • The Usage guidance is what will appear in the close menu, advising people when to use the close reason.
  • The Close description will be shown to everyone in the post notice and should be relatively short.
  • The Post owner guidance appears in the post notice and is how the OP should fix the question (if possible).
  • The Privileged user guidance is informative for the people with close privilege regarding what the close reason is.

enter image description here

Let's get a consensus on what we should put in each box.

We need CM help to edit an existing close reason, so a clear meta consensus is essential, then we can it and get them to help us making the necessary changes. I'm going to post an answer below with my proposed texts; please vote and give feedback or suggested improvements if necessary.


These are the drafts I’ve come up with. Please comment with any improvements (and please don’t edit this post directly without consensus). Are there any other meta posts that might need to be summarized/linked here? (The links I’ve added are relatively recent ones because, well, that’s what I know of). See here for ideas.

Brief description

The name shown to flaggers/close-voters when seeking an option in the close menu (currently 17/100 characters):

Needs attribution

Usage guidance

The description shown to flaggers/close-voters after choosing this close reason (currently 435/500 characters):

This looks like a puzzle not created by the poster. Proper attribution is required for non-original puzzles. Use this close reason only if absolutely no attribution is provided, or when it is reasonable to assume that the poster lacks permission to post it (e.g. when the puzzle is from any sort of contest).

Close description

The text shown to everybody, even non-users, viewing the closed question (currently 120/500 characters):

This question was closed for lacking proper attribution. It is currently not accepting answers.

Post owner guidance

The more detailed text shown, under the general close description, to the OP only when viewing their closed question (currently 397/500 characters):

This looks like a puzzle you found elsewhere. For content you did not create yourself, proper attribution is required. If you have permission to repost this, please edit to include (at minimum) where it came from, then vote (or flag) to reopen. Posts which use someone else's content without attribution are generally deleted.

Privileged user guidance

The more detailed text shown, under the general close description, to any 3k+ rep user viewing the closed question (currently 449/500 characters):

If the poster has provided proper attribution, either in an edit or a comment, please vote to reopen (If the attribution is in a comment, please edit it into the question). Please note that proper attribution includes nearly any attribution which acknowledges the puzzle is not from the poster, as long as it is reasonable to assume that the poster has permission to post it.

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the text of the 'proper attribution' link needs to be customized as well? It doesn't talk about puzzles at all, and it talks about answer-plagiarism, we are talking about questions. (Also it seems harsher than the 'owner guidance' ... "Hmm, this looks like it might be a puzzle you found somewhere else" versus "Plagiarism... CONFESS!!") $\endgroup$ Jul 27 at 11:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @deep, we can't edit that part of the Help Center - it's standardized across all sites (reference). $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 27 at 13:53
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If the generic /referencing page isn't enough to help educate, consider linking instead to a meta FAQ that asks "Why and how do I sufficiently attribute my question if it's not an original puzzle" and the answers explain that. $\endgroup$
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 30 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Catija we don't have such a thing, unfortunately :/ It's spread across a bunch of meta posts; I've linked the ones I consider most important, and left room for more links if needed. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 30 at 4:38
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ ... I mean... there's nothing preventing y'all from creating it, is there? If you want to ensure that people will be best able to understand how to fix the problem, making good guidance in post notices is a start but referencing excellent meta or help center pages is the other part of it. :) It's an ecosystem. (Also, note that you'll be linking to /referencing twice in the post notices for both the asker and high-rep users, since both the description and the other section are visible simultaneously.) $\endgroup$
    – Catija StaffMod
    Jul 30 at 4:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Catija I would love it have it all, but I'm fighting one battle at a time here. More important to have proper post notices than an FAQ that few people will read. I was also worried about people getting meta fatigue, since this place can be pretty quiet. And yeah, there are double-links but it's an important one. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 30 at 4:48
  • $\begingroup$ (On another point, there are some posts that seem like they would be good FAQs (example) but they're either outdated or incomplete. There are quite a few wrinkles to the policy so that any FAQ would have some serious bloat) $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Jul 30 at 4:49
  • $\begingroup$ Insisting on "proper attribution" is intended to not let people say "I found this on some website" or "I copied it from a book" and have that be sufficient. The /referencing link is useful guidance that, where available, an actual link and author's name are expected at SE; similarly, for offline sources, we expect enough information to be provided to serve as actual, functional attribution. We're looking for more than acknowledgement that "I didn't write this"; we want to give the creator their due. I am concerned that the "absolutely no attribution" guidance makes useless attributions OK. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio Mod
    Aug 13 at 17:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Rubio that was an (admittedly not good) attempt at summarizing this answer - feel free to suggest a better one which adds in context like how it must be as much attribution as possible etc. Honestly I was really hoping for someone to suggest an edit there $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Aug 13 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ I've been considering whether it would be worth it to create a central FAQ like Catija mentioned above... it's hard to squish the policy into 500 characters. $\endgroup$
    – bobble
    Aug 13 at 17:50
  • $\begingroup$ @bobble Consolidating existing commentary and answers about attribution and plagiarism into a single policy/FAQ is an excellent idea. I think it's important to note that Rand al'Thor's good thoughts notwithstanding, it is not sufficient that people do not (appear to) claim someone else's work as their own, i.e. plagiarism; especially given that at PSE many people are creators themselves, we have a keen interest in ensuring that people actually provide proper attribution as well (which happens to also address the plagiarism issue). The policy/FAQ should reflect this. $\endgroup$
    – Rubio Mod
    Aug 13 at 18:21

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