A good question was posted earlier today Should I report a previous coworker's arrest to management? and a good answer IMHO has already been provided. But in this particular question, one word ("previous") makes a major difference in how this question might best be answered.

What is the best approach and methodology for addressing those differences?

  1. A single answer which specifically addresses both scenarios?
  2. An 'additional' answer to expand on the other scenario? (Assuming there is already a good answer)
  3. Posting a modified/different question?
  • My intent was not to expand the scope but to remove the discussion part of the question. The practical part is constructive and on topic so I was trimming the other off. I have no objection to the proper refocusing. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 18 '13 at 16:43
  • @Chad didn't mean to imply that you were. My question is in regards to the 'previous' versus 'current' status, I think that makes a major difference in how to answer the question. If the OP was still a manager at his previous employer he may be exposing himself and his company to liability by not reporting this to higher management. – Steve Jan 18 '13 at 16:48
  • Are you saying that it is proper to expose a company to liability that they could have avoided if you are not employed by that company? The person either is or is not a danger to his coworkers. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 22 '13 at 17:51
  • @Chad, no I'm simply saying that if the accused was a 'current' employee and the OP a manager then there are different considerations. In the 'current' scenario the OP would/could be exposing himself and his employer to the risk of liability. Where as in the 'previous' scenario the OP has no professional obligation to report this and certainly wouldn't be held to the same legal/civil standard. – Steve Jan 22 '13 at 17:59
  • If the question was about his legal obligation then I would agree. But since it is not scoped to that I do not think it matters. If the risk is enough to inform your employer then it should be enough to inform someone at the offenders company. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 22 '13 at 18:02
  • @Chad, first off let me make it clear that my question here on 'Meta' was not to debate the merits of the question or the answers already provided. Although this may not be the best example to have used, my question is how to address questions where minor wording/phrasing in the question could make a difference in how the question might best be answered. – Steve Jan 22 '13 at 18:14

If mentioning the differences between the two scenarios as part of the answer would add more value to the Q&A and more clearly answer the question, then that would be fine, but the additional information should be relevant to help keep it concise and to the point. In other words, it would be okay to mention the other scenario, but only briefly and as an aside.

Now, if there is some really valuable information in there that would otherwise be edited out if one were to follow these guidelines, then the ask and answer your own question feature of Stack Exchange may help. You could ask a second, standalone question and post a full, standalone answer in Q&A format.

Just keep in mind that it would likely take a lot of work to keep it from being seen as a duplicate, as self-answered questions are still subject to all of the normal Stack Exchange guidelines.


We need to keep in mind that this is a Q/A site - it's not a wiki.

  • If editing a question clarifies its scope to still allow answers which answer the question, fine

  • If not, don't significantly change the question

Because at the end of the day this site only exists because people have real situations they want real advice to. Whether it's a bad question or a rant or a "halp me plz" "question" it is still a real person (like you -- or me) with a real need they want met.


I fail to see how anything with a "previous" co-worker is a constructive question about the Workplace. Discussing a previous co-worker's plight is akin to telling your manager that your buddy got arrested. Why does the manager care? How does this impact the workplace? I voted to close it as not constructive.

My point is, a "previous" co-worker does not matter, thus the initial question here isn't a good fit nor is it constructive to a workplace q&a. Therefore, the "best approach" is to close the question as not constructive.

  • could you please expand a bit on how does that answer the question asked? – gnat Jan 18 '13 at 16:58
  • Sure, the question was "What is the best approach and methodology for addressing those differences?" and my point is a "previous" co-worker does not matter, thus the initial question here isn't a good fit nor is it constructive to a workplace q&a. Therefore, the "best approach" is to close the question as not constructive. – squeemish Jan 18 '13 at 17:48
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    I do see your point, but doesn't 'The Workplace' include the full scope of our professional lives? After all we certainly allow questions on seeking other employment, career changes, and so on. Things that don't directly apply to our current workplace. If we follow your logic wouldn't we need to exclude those questions as being off topic as well? – Steve Jan 18 '13 at 18:46
  • The full scope of our professional lives does not include personal relationships with people we do not work with. I think that's the key a lot of people are missing on this topic. The guy who is being "tattled on" (for lack of a better term) DOES NOT work with the guy. There is 0 correlation. The question's basis is "should i tell my boss something about someone that does not work here and has no impact on anything that goes on." I can't even believe it's garnering this much discussion to be honest. The guys assault charge has nothing to do with anything involved in working. – squeemish Jan 18 '13 at 20:01
  • It's the definition of gossip, and the original poster's rhetoric makes it look like he simply wants to speak up because a guy hit a girl. It's not his business, it's not the workplace where the Assaulter DOES NOT work's business. I don't even understand what the motive is to say anything. It's ridiculous. – squeemish Jan 18 '13 at 20:03
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    @squeemish - I thought he was asking if he should let the alleged perpetrator's manager know about the allegations: "Should these coworkers be made aware of these chargers, and his management as well?" - emphasis mine. – jmort253 Jan 19 '13 at 19:33
  • ok, my point still stands. this guy's whole question is "should i but my nose into somebody's business?" why in the world would he contact a manager in a business place that he doesn't work? i can't talk about this guy anymore, he makes me want to punch him in his face. mind your own business. he needs a punch in the face for even considering doing this. guy is acting like he's 4 years old and someone stole his toy. it's ridiculous and it really makes my blood boil that we are even attempting to support this question – squeemish Jan 20 '13 at 20:52
  • @squeemish - the OP had a professional relationship with them. The question is does he have any obligation to report what he knows because of the professional relationship. This is not about the personal relationship, or at least this is a question about the line between the two. For that reason I think it is in scope. You may be right that it is on the personal side of the line but that does not mean we can not ask questions about where that line is drawn. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jan 22 '13 at 18:09
  • I guess. I just don't understand where an obligation to report comes from. Would OP want someone telling his boss about his personal, non-work related matters? But I think I'm beating a dead horse. – squeemish Jan 22 '13 at 19:59

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