8

Take as an example my question:

How can I encourage our team to have shorter meetings?

It has got information in it which might be seen as unflattering to my customer.

There are other examples of questions containing potentially embarrassing information:

How cautious should be in asking these questions? Should we consider a way to handle these?

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    What do you mean "work sensitive"? As in "might look bad if my boss saw it"? – Rarity Apr 19 '12 at 13:11
  • @Rarity: exactly. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Apr 19 '12 at 13:19
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    Is it really our job to protect people from their own stupidity? As in, if someone wants to admit to being a naughty boy in work on here in such a manner that leaves them identifiable in the real world, is it our job to stop them? Personally, I think no. – John N Apr 19 '12 at 13:24
  • @JohnN I agree, though questions about flouting the law (pirating software) might be a whole different story (and maybe a good question to ask here). – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Apr 19 '12 at 13:38
11

It's on the asker. It's not our responsibility as community members to make sure the Asker looks good.

These questions should be answered and treated by the community as if they're any other question.

As for the Askers, just remember that the site is public record and easily searchable. Putting content on the site is your choice but it is not necessarily your choice to remove the content after you've contributed to the site. Assume that once you've posted it, it's here for good; you can't technically revoke material after it's been licensed as Creative Commons.

Moderators are not particularly obliged to anonymize or delete your content, so make sure it's acceptable before you post it.

Remember to keep it professional; rants aren't questions and will be closed.

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    +1 for it's on the asker. I thought we should have it defined somewhere and your answer seems like a good policy. Regarding your last sentence, I assume that is intended as additional information because I'm not asking about rants. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Apr 19 '12 at 13:36
  • @Wikis rants make you look bad, I just wanted to clarify that for those concerned about this as askers it's not appropriate. I can remove it if you want to just keep the bit about it being the asker's responsibility though. – Rarity Apr 19 '12 at 13:51
  • It's no problem, I agree, I just wasn't sure if you thought I was asking about that. – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Apr 19 '12 at 14:02
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    Agreed - Don't put information on Stack Exchange if it's that sensitive. Don't put enough to link you to your employer or client if someone making that association would jeopardize your job. If you post something you shouldn't have and need it redacted / erased from history, contact a moderator and they'll make it happen. – voretaq7 Apr 19 '12 at 16:40
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    Anyone else think this should be in the FAQ in what not to ask? – Reinstate Monica - Goodbye SE Apr 19 '12 at 19:48
9

Thanks for asking, that's a great question.

Not so long ago there was a rather clueless fellow on Programmers who had asked a series of questions, all about his evil project manager. If I remember correctly it was 5 or 6 questions in about 10 days, and the guy was giving us way more information that was necessary, mostly specifics on how his project manager was mistreating everyone, wasn't really deserving of their role, etc.

At some point, I checked his profile, and to my surprise (and amusement) I found out that he was proudly advertising the company he worked for in his "About me" box, even mentioning the specific department he was in, all complete with a link to his blog where he blogged under his real name. The company was a big IT corporate, the kind of company you expect to have at least one marketing guy/gal scouting the internet for mentions of their name.

I posted a comment on his latest question, and when he read it he emptied his "About me" box, removed the link to his blog and edited out the backstory and all incendiary remarks from his questions (and deleted several of his comments). What was extremely amusing is that when all the personal stuff were removed, his project manager sounded like a really capable manager, and the OP like someone who should perhaps concentrate a bit more on doing their job instead of complaining all the time.

The moral of the story: If your main motivation is to whine about your supervisor and/or your co-workers, The Workplace and Stack Exchange in general is not where you should be doing it. And we, as a community, should be extra vigilant if we spot a buffoon using our site to vent.

But that's not really the case with the questions in question. They are all a bit sensitive, and can potentially get the OPs in trouble, but if we remove the sensitive / embarrassing parts they wouldn't really stand as questions.

Since one of the questions is mine, I'll shamelessly admit that I cheated (a bit), it's not a current issue I'm facing and I did fuzzy the details a bit. Certainly my co-workers from that time will recognize exactly what and who I'm talking about, and at least one of them is active on Stack Exchange, but that wouldn't really get me in trouble as I hadn't had any relationship with the company for years. It is an actual practical problem I had to deal with (every day), but that was a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away (same with this question).

However old issue or not, people who I currently work with are aware of my Stack Exchange activities, and may not appreciate the fact that I brought sensitive issues in a public arena. Well, that's something each one of us has to take into consideration and decide for themselves, it's no different that posting anywhere else on the internet. We are all (?) adults here, and we need to be ready to face the consequences of our actions.

If by any chance you regretted asking a question, you have two options:

  1. You can ask the moderators to delete it (if you can't delete it yourself due to upvoted answers) or
  2. You can ask Stack Exchange to disassociate the question from your account.

Generally speaking if it's a good question with good answers it would be preferable to go with the second option, the only thing you need to do is send an email to team+workplace@stackexchange.com with a link to the question and your profile. But don't count on them to do it every time you post something sensitive, once or twice it'd be okay, if you keep posting questions that could get you in trouble, well, you deserve to get in trouble.

And, lastly, you can always post your sensitive questions anonymously via a throw away account. At the end of the day you should only care for getting a good answer, the reputation and badges you may earn from the question are largely irrelevant. Fair warning though: If you do something fishy with your throw away account, like vote for your main account, you will not get away with it.

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