We keep getting "I want advice on XXXX" types of questions which are all vague and more appropriate for a discussion board - not a Q/A site.

Can we please update the first item under the list of off topic things on the FAQ:

  • "What should I do?" - "Should I take this job?" - “I need feedback/validation!” - "Please review my resume/CV/Cover Letter"

    Questions without a specific problem are suited for discussion boards - not a question/answer site. Generally, these types of questions are relevant only to you and off-topic. Questions which are also useful to other people are on-topic.

    As an example, The Workplace often gets questions about whether to accept a job offer. This is relevant only to the asker and not helpful for others. These types of questions should be rephrased into specific components:

    • How can I find the total compensation for a job offer?
    • How can I ask for additional time to evaluate a job offer?

Note this also replaces the "Please review my resume/CV" item.

This site should not be "Dear Workplace, help me please" anymore than Stack Overflow is "Dear Stack Overflow, give me teh codez."

A great example of this type of 'question'

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    To prevent that section of the FAQ from getting too long, I'd be fine with a version of this that could replace (and subsume) the "Which job should I take?" question. – yoozer8 Mar 7 '13 at 14:38
  • @Jim that would definitely work too. I'll edit the OP. – enderland Mar 7 '13 at 14:39
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    I think that would match nicely to authoritative quality requirement: "real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions" (nicely commented and explained at MSO) – gnat Mar 7 '13 at 15:41
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    @gnat I prefer that. Almost any question could be seen as "asking advice"; the real problem is the excessive openendedness of requests, and IMO "advice" doesn't clearly express that. I get what the point here is, but I don't think everyone will. I give people "advice" in direct answers to well asked questions all the time. – Rarity Mar 8 '13 at 12:31
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    I've updated the phrase a fair bit incorporating the comments here. – enderland Mar 8 '13 at 17:02
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    I'd suggest that rather than saying "with no problem" we say "with no specific problem to solve". I'm not 100% sure it's a better way to word it, but if someone is asking "what should I do?", they would most likely consider their situation a "problem". – yoozer8 Mar 8 '13 at 17:34
  • I have also added "Cover Letter" to the list of things off topic to review given these comments – enderland Mar 10 '13 at 14:42
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    I am just visiting you guys, but I am still confused about the mission here. The whole front page is conceivably a list of advice-type questions. How is cover letter (one of the tags btw) different from "trust feedback," "boss IM," or "dealing with unprofessional lead"? None of these have a specific answer, and the best answers like pdr's 62 vote "understand their motivations, react accordingly" are well written and excellent opinion pieces. I'd love to stop by more often, but at this point I don't understand the spirit of the place. – denten Mar 10 '13 at 17:58
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    @denten the thing is, this website is not "Dear Workplace" - it has to be useful as a Q/A for others too. Most of the questions falling into this category simply are not useful outside the individual asking the question, which makes them almost always a poor fit for a Q/A of useful information. – enderland Mar 11 '13 at 18:12
  • At first I was like "aren't all questions here asking for advice", but then I read your proposal and think it's a good one. A note about the phrasing though - it would be nice if the example questions were links to actual questions on the site – Rachel Mar 18 '13 at 16:56
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    I updated the link to rev 1 of that question since it was edited and cleaned up after the link was added to this post. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 4 '13 at 15:14

This sounds like a great idea. Adding this to the FAQ doesn't explicitly discourage or eliminate any specific topics but is instead geared towards helping people take their real, actual problem and then focus on describing the problem in a very clear and organized manner.

This also makes the asker think about what he or she expects to receive as answers, which I hope would help reduce the extended discussion and amount of not constructive posts!


Since this is now listed in the list of off-topic questions, it's important that we look at the question and determine if edits can bring it inline with the scope. I'd hate to see users give up, thinking their post is simply off-topic. Instead, I'd prefer they understand that some editing is needed to make it a great question. See this post for more details.

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    Plus then I can link the FAQ and not feel as bad voting to close and downvoting questions which are.. bad – enderland Mar 7 '13 at 15:42

This is a good idea. I'd like to give it a little time (maybe another day or so) for people to review/propose wording changes/additions/subtractions, and then, barring any (unexpected) substantial opposition, we can make the change.

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    Other sites have locked questions and noted that they were part of the beta process and only here for historical value. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Mar 8 '13 at 19:12
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    We can do that as well as need arises. – yoozer8 Mar 8 '13 at 19:13

I think a blanket prohibition against questions that 'ask for advice' would be overkill. MOST of the questions asked here are requests for advice of one kind or another.

Perhaps they were added since the OP's post on March 7, but at the moment the examples he cites

"What should I do?" / "Should I take this job?" / “I need advice, help me!” /"Please review my resume/CV/Cover Letter"

are list in the FAQ now.

The existing FAQ is fine.

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    I'm hoping to combine some of those to make the FAQ somewhat shorter as well as the central problem for all those is the same as my examples. – enderland Mar 12 '13 at 19:48

I think the threads are already there on the FAQ, but I see plenty of questions that still fall into off topic areas like this, and this question points out some specific flaws.

I'm not sure where to put it, but two litmus tests that I use when voting to close include:

  • Are we down to a specific set of choices? Quite frequently this is in the new-job choice area. When the asker feels a need to boil it down to two or more very particular, non-translatable options,I generally vote to close figuring that there isn't enough reuse to the answers to make it a viable long term question. My thought for helping it along would be - if you can make it about stereotypical tradeoffs that many people might encounter, then keep it. If not, this isn't a good forum - we can't be career counselors.

  • Please validate my choice - Perhaps I'm being too persnickety, but I see a fair amount of "this is what I want to do, is it OK?" Sometimes we can resurrect it into "what's a best approach to this difficulty?" but I see plenty of editing to get it from point A to point B.

In both cases, I can see that we may still be able to help the question asker, but not in the format that it's presented, and I wonder if people are unclear in what they can expect. Not sure, though, that the FAQ can actually fix the problem - people have to read the FAQ for it to be useful. :)

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    Absolutely. This is why I want to change the FAQ some, because right now these elements are woven into there but not explicitly clear. I'll change "advice" to "feedback/validation" because this is a big problem like you say. – enderland Apr 4 '13 at 16:45

The idea has some merit, but isn't this a departure from what the site has been up until this point?

I mean, if you look at the highest rep users, many of them have earned many points by answering advice questions, and I don't think that they would be thrilled about losing hundreds of rep points if we deleted those questions.

  • If we did go back and delete a bunch of content, a lot of it would probably qualify for the users keeping the rep. – yoozer8 Mar 8 '13 at 14:23
  • @Jim: How does that work? If an answer is sufficiently old, then the users keep their rep? Also, does that incentive people to answer lots of questions early on a site's Beta? That is before the pro temp. moderators come in and tighten the "Not Constructive" rules? – Jim G. Mar 8 '13 at 14:43
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    If the post has a score of at least 3, and has been visible on the site for at least 60 days, the reputation stays when it is deleted (source). As far as incentivizing early Beta participation, not only is there a badge for that, but it also allows you to help shape the direction of the site, so rather than adding incentive, the reputation policy prevents massive rep loss for those who helped establish the site (in the case of mass deletions). – yoozer8 Mar 8 '13 at 15:10
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    Part of this site being a beta is to determine what is and isnt allowed and to see if it is viable as a full site. The point of the 'high rep users' isnt to scrape up a lot of rep and hold on to it, the point is to help shape what the site Should be. – Rhys Mar 8 '13 at 15:30
  • @RhysW: Right - So why do we keep obviously off-topic questions which were created during the site's inception phase? – Jim G. Mar 8 '13 at 17:05
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    Every StackExchange site follows this process. They were good on topic questions at the time so they are kept around. They are free to be closed by the community if they so wish, as Jim stated above – Rhys Mar 8 '13 at 17:24
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    The best thing for us to focus on is good questions going forward, now that we have a clearer picture of what does and doesn't work. As @RhysW says, every beta has early material that the community isn't particularly proud of or that doesn't represent the current state of the site. Stack Overflow surely is a perfect example of this. – jmort253 Mar 8 '13 at 19:21
  • @jmort253: Right, but in all fairness, aren't those early, poor questions closed and deleted? Why do we have a double standard on Workplace.SE? – Jim G. Mar 8 '13 at 20:10

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