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The question Plastic VS carton VS glass VS tin— harm to environment is almost certainly off-topic here, and Sustainability SE might be a better place for it.

Question: But are individually-composed "because it belongs in" a proper off-topic close reason?

I saw this close justification:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this belong in sustainability.stackexchange. com

Here are my concerns:

  1. If one chooses to specify a reason why something is off topic, one should actually explain the reason why it is off-topic and not why one thinks that it might be on-topic somewhere else.
  2. It gives new users the idea that thinking that "it belongs in" is a perfectly good indicator of off-topic-ness, which it is not.

There are not-so-infrequently questions that can be on-topic in two or more sites. Topicality elsewhere has no direct bearing on topicality here.

  • OP decides where to ask
  • The community decides topicality (sometimes with moderator help)
  • Decision to manually delete and repost is available to the OP if there are no answers
  • And migration is an option exercised exclusively by moderators.

These roles are built-in to how SE works, and we shouldn't try to "get around" the way the features work, except in exceptional cases (tautology alert!) We should all try to stay in our lanes.

The only "because it belongs in" option that this site currently allows us is meta:

enter image description here

The close reason in question:

because it belongs in

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  • $\begingroup$ I see many discussion topics on this question (custom close-reason, beta doesn't have proper migration paths, on-topicality)... not sure from where should I start. So, just a quick comment: in a sense, it's a valid close reason, though not really helpful. As long as the question is indeed off-topic, the priority is to close it ASAP first. Note that since it's just a custom close reason, it won't automatically migrate the question to there though... $\endgroup$ – Andrew T. Apr 30 at 4:04
  • $\begingroup$ @AndrewT. Can you elaborate on what "in a sense, it's a valid close reason" means? I feel like you are saying "maybe it is, maybe it isn't, and I don't want to take a firm position". I posted this question in order to try to converge on something definitive. You can see that I've taken some time to write and articulate the question and I've numbered two concerns, can you address either of those specifically? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Apr 30 at 4:45
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In a comment, you wrote in response to Andrew T.:

I feel like you are saying "maybe it is, maybe it isn't, and I don't want to take a firm position".

I think the nuance you read from Andrew's comment is appropriate. We really only want to close questions if they're off-topic for this site, which means that simply expressing that a question fits better on another site might not be a valid close reason.

However, the sentiment that such a phrase suggests is "This question would be on-topic for another Stack Exchange site, but it isn't here." And that would be a valid close reason, because it's not just that the question would fit better on another site, but that it doesn't even belong here in the first place.

Generally, I would discourage such close reasons, because it leaves room for questions that fit the first explanation to be closed, and moreover gives less guidance than could be possible. Assuming the question was closed for the second reason (which it seems to be here), it's not an incorrect off-topic reason. It could be improved, but it does give most of the justification for why that question should be closed.

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