This question has been closed as "not a real question," but I think the heart of it is a good question. It's also something that's so much of a problem in the United States that there are tons of books and articles and whatnot talking about how much of a problem it is.

The United States gets a large number of immigrant/foreign workers, and both the foreign workers and younger generations of native workers often have trouble with a company culture that pressures people to not take their paid time off.

Since this is an issue that affects a large number of people, can we reword this question to be acceptable as a "real question" and reopened?

4 Answers 4


I would disagree that it is "not a real question", and have voted to reopen it.

The problem is clearly that the company culture discourages employees from using their PTO, and the OP is asking if he should let company culture influence how much PTO he uses. He also mentioned that he's not from the US (which I think is relevant), and is not sure if any kind of unspoken "rules" about PTO exist in the US.

Personally I've worked in similar environments, and think this is a good question for the site. I actually had the same question when I first started working too. I used to never take my PTO, or when I did it was with some "valid explanation", like going on a week-long vacation. Now I take it whenever I feel I want a day off, or when it's going to expire. :)

I've already voted to reopen it, although when I went to try and edit the title and highlight the actual question just now, I see someone has made a more substantial edit that changes the nature of the question.

If it's determined the edit is too much and gets rolled back, I'll post my changes, but if not I won't bother.

The summary of my changes was to change the title to "My colleagues frown on me for using my vacation days. Should I stop using them so much?", and to clarify in the body a bit more that the OP is not from the US and is looking to find out if there are unspoken rules in the US about taking PTO that he is not aware of.

Edit: I actually was reading through the edit and realized it invalidated too many of the existing answers because of how much it changed the core question. I've rolled back that edit, and applied the one I was going to do.

If the community decides the current phrasing of the question isn't good enough and rolls it back to Chad's edit, I won't complain, however I'd prefer the question as it is now because it doesn't invalidate so many of the existing answers.

Edit #2: I realize why some users were thinking the question was "not-constructive", so edited the question to be Should I let company culture influence how I use my PTO?, which I think is probably the most constructive way we could rephrase the question without losing the OP's original intent.

  • 2
    as for invalidating answers, this is a good argument for close early, close often. Since we have a lot of active reopen voters, I wonder if this is something we should do a little more? The other option is to comment on the invalidated answers? Or maybe edit the answers too?
    – jmort253
    Jan 15, 2013 at 20:13

This question was fine in my opinion. Was it a "what should I do?" - somewhat, yes.

But the asker was from a different country than the USA and was confused about vacation practices here, because coworkers seemed to look down on them for using vacation.

They asked:

What should I do? Not use them and effectively work for free?

This is akin to "my coworkers look down on me for using vacation... how should I deal with this?"

Is this normal behavior in the United States, to have vacation days and not use them (I'm not originally from the US)?

This is a GREAT question (even if not addressing a direct problem) because there is a huge difference between American and European culture on vacation usage. I've had quite a few conversations with Europeans who completely do not understand American vacation policies - not using some of our already limited vacation seems CRAZY to many of them.

This question was not "what should I do" it was "I'm confused by this situation I don't understand, here's what I don't understand, here's what I tried, what should I do" question.

Big difference in my opinion.

  • What should I do is not a good fit though. I tried changing it to how can i tell if it is a problem but that was rejected. But instead we have a straw man question but at least it is a constructive straw man question... Jan 15, 2013 at 18:36

Based on other answers on meta about our quality, a significant number of people agree that questions that are chatty aren't really at the core of what we're looking for. Questions that ask "What should I do", in general, seem to raise a red flag here.

Not every question with those keywords in it is an immediate "not constructive" or "not a real question" post, but it is cause for concern because it invites "advice" not "answers" in many cases.

Instead, we could edit this particular post to focus on how to achieve a solution to a problem. For instance, "How can I use my vacation days without people thinking I'm lazy" or "How can I change the culture of our organization so that it's okay to take vacation".

The current question is "Is this a problem?" or more specifically "How can I tell if there are problems arising from taking vacation?". The problem here is that this is arguably speculation and a borderline not a real actual problem.

Chad already made some edits to cut out information that isn't relevant, and these types of edits help keep the focus on solving a problem.

Should it stay closed? Probably not. We have a great pool of editors in our community who love fixing questions like this. I encourage you to jump in as well and suggest edits that make questions fit our guidelines. Also, remember that as a 1000+ user, you have both close and reopen votes you can cast on questions, and I encourage you to use them to reopen posts that have been fixed (or to close questions that need fixing so we can prevent invalid answers). :)

In summary, the challenge we face is how to avoid becoming "Dear Abby" for the workplace. I'm not 100% sure how to avoid that, but asking questions like this in meta is a great way to keep that conversation going by focusing on specific questions.

  • 2
    I didn't think the question was asking "Is this a problem", but more "Should I let company culture influence how much PTO I take", which I think is a worthwhile question for the site. It's one I had when I first started working and before I had any prior experience with PTO, and I think many other users have that question too. I don't like the edit Chad made because it changes the core question too much, and invalidates just about every one of the existing answers.
    – Rachel
    Jan 15, 2013 at 15:47
  • 1
    Hypothetically speaking, if the edits weren't done as they were, then the alternative is that we could do more to ensure every answer follows the good subjective guidelines and also the back it up rule. In short, I will say that we can take pressure off askers and redirect more of the responsibility on answerers. I find it especially hard to judge constructiveness as sometimes it just depends on what the first few answers look like.
    – jmort253
    Jan 15, 2013 at 20:18

The best approach for those seeking an answer may be to simply re-frame the original question as one or more "real" question(s).

There is already a policy for "not a real question" questions. By re-framing the question, community members will be respecting the opinions of the members who voted to close the original question while at the same time actually getting answer. Also, comments could then be added to the closed question page redirecting members to the re-framed questions. This would have the additional benefit of teaching members how to turn their future "not a real question"s into real questions before submitting them.

  • While, generally speaking, you're correct, I think you missed the point of this question - what can we do to reword this particular question to be able to reopen it. There's no reason to start a new question if there's a 1:1 mapping (and, in fact, there's actually good reason not to: getting it closed as a duplicate).
    – Shauna
    Jan 23, 2013 at 16:14

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