Based on this post by jmort, and a suggestion by enderland in chat, I thought it would be useful to create a consolidated post where we can point users to when we downvote/close/edit their questions so that they understand the site guidelines better (and hopefully learn a bit about our thought process).

I am yoinking the introduction from this post because I think it applies equally well here, and no sense in re-inventing the wheel!


Hello and welcome to The Workplace!

You may have noticed this is not a normal online community. It is different from most online mailing lists, forums, and discussion boards, as well as even other sites on the Stack Exchange network.

Sometimes, this can make the site seem hostile to new users. This site is focused on high quality questions and answers, and as a result, sometimes your content may be downvoted, aggressively edited, or even closed. These standards can be frustrating at first, but are required to consistently provide high quality content.

Table of Contents

5 Answers 5


It was a rant

"So I started this computer company, built it up with my buddy Steve, and then this jerk comes in as CEO and tries to take credit for the success of the company while running it in to the ground! I may have lost my temper, and threw a hissy fit, and the next thing I know I'm forced to resign from a company that I founded! What the heck was he thinking?! Doesn't he know that I'm the brains of this outfit! How can I get him to realize what a colossal boob he is?!"

Every now and again we all run in to situations at work that make us want to tear out our hair and have a proper whinge about. That doesn't mean this is the place to do it. While we all empathize with your situation (and do a fair bit of this ourselves), we take it to the appropriate channels, like The Water Cooler Chat or the poor soul sitting next to us at the local bar after work.

We encourage bringing up tough situations at work which allow us to solve a problem, but we can't let you use The Workplace as a sounding board for your frustrations, since there are more complaints than constructive solutions to problems out there.

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    +1 for How can I get him to realize what a colossal boob he is? classic Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 13:15
  • Anyone have any ideas on how the example question could be reworded to be more constructive? Showing what the op should have asked may help others see how they could edit their posts as well.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 4, 2013 at 18:30

It was polling for opinion

I am currently looking for new jobs. What corners in Tennoji, Osaka have you found to offer the best day laborer work?


I am currently looking for day laborers. What is the best free newspaper to advertise in?

Sometimes you just want to know what's out there, and ask a question to get the opinions of folks with experience. Unfortunately, these answers quickly become outdated, and they don't really fall in line with the type and quality of questions The Workplace is looking for.

Rather than polling for answers, why not ask a more general question that will help you solve your problem? For instance, "How can I improve the quality of staff I get from temp agencies?"

  • I think that the title "polling for opinion" is a bit misleading, as it implies that someone is intentionally searching for information that is opinion-based and not factual. The real issue in the examples given is that the information is only relevant for a short period of time. I'd like to suggest renaming it "It was asking for quickly outdated information". Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 19:30
  • I suppose the other issue could be that it's asking for the word "best", although I think that could still be backed up by factual information (e.g. Gallup polls). In that case, the issue could be that it was asking for a question that was unlikely to reach consensus, which may or not be because it's something that is quickly outdated. Commented Aug 21, 2013 at 19:43
  • @Thunderforge Opinion-based information should be backed up with references or reasoning. "What is the best color tie to wear on the first day of work?" is an issue because it is 100% opinion-based (even if there is a gallup poll to suggest that blue ties are regarded better). Polling for opinion is the issue itself -- not that the information will be outdated.
    – jmac
    Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 0:20
  • I'm afraid I don't understand the distinction you are making. Are you saying that it is the motivation of the questioner that would make "What is the best color tie to wear on the first day of work?" a bad question? I don't think that questioner's motivation should be considered, just whether or not a good answer can be reached. If empirical research like Gallup polls could answer the question, then that would be a provable answer, assuming the answer is not going to change in the near future. Commented Aug 22, 2013 at 15:15

It was an 'agony aunt' question

Dear The Workplace, recently I applied for an internship at DeLorean Motors. I think I nailed the interview, because they called me back and said they were considering me for a position as CEO! Right now I'm working at Good Burger as a fry cook, and I really like my coworkers and don't want to let them down. There's also this really cute burger flipper who I have my eye on! But DeLorean is offering me vesting stock options in the company (even though I prefer a higher base salary!). I know this is a great professional opportunity, but I really don't want to let down my colleagues. I am also allergic to time travel, which I hear may be a problem at DeLorean. What should I do?

We all want advice on tough choices. It's hard to decide whether to pick schooling or a job, or to decide which job to pick, or when to resign. When you make these decisions there is no "right answer" so we look to get as many different viewpoints as possible. Since these questions don't have any sort of objective "right answer" this isn't the place for them. Future visitors will not get any useful advice from knowing whether you picked the CEO job or stuck as a Good Burger fry cook!

We really like questions that are based on your tough decision that come up, like, "How can I negotiate a better base salary instead of stock options instead of base salary for a senior position?" These sorts of questions may not tell you what to do in the situation, but they will give you hints on how to approach the problem, and they will be useful for people with a similar problem in the future.

  • 1
    Although I like the examples being fun, at first I thought this was illustrating a ridiculously impossible scenario instead of serious one (which can still have the problems you describe).
    – Nicole
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 19:15
  • 1
    That's why it's a community wiki entry! Improvement is only a click away!
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 26, 2013 at 22:39

It was asking for legal advice

My company got this patent which was pretty revolutionary at the time and created a brand new market that we were first in to. Soon afterward one of our overseas competitors totally stole that patent and was entirely unapologetic about it! I would like to know what my rights are to sue them in the following countries:

  • South Korea
  • Japan
  • Germany
  • France
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Australia
  • Great Britain (Scotland, Wales, North Ireland, and England separately if different)
  • United States

Thanks in advance!

Sometimes when all else fails it's time to turn to the legal system to solve the problem. The issue is that The Workplace is not a substitute for professional legal advice. If your problem is serious enough that you need to speak to a lawyer, it's best to pony up the money to speak to a lawyer rather than asking here (you do get what you pay for after all).

Instead of asking about the legal aspects, you may want to ask a question related to taking legal action, but not actually involving the law. Something like, "How can I minimize the damage to my reputation from a very public lawsuit?" This question will help you solve the fundamental problem without having to resort to asking non-lawyers for legal advice.


It was asking for advice only useful to me

I have had 5 years of experience as the Commander in Chief of the United States, 4 years as a US Senator for Illinois, 8 years of experience as a State Senator for Illinois, have a law degree from Harvard Law School, and a BA from Columbia University. I currently make $400,000, with $50,000 of comped expenses, and a $100,000 stipend for travel. How much can I earn on the speaker circuit?

We all want to know what our market value is, or how we can improve our employability, or how we can jazz up our resume. Unfortunately, any answer that is provided will apply only to that one situation and isn't too likely to help future visitors. Since the goal of the site is to provide a resource to people other than the person asking the question, questions like these are not appropriate.

Instead of asking such a specific question based on the details of your individual situation, why not ask a broader question like, "What is the risk of looking for consulting work before resigning from my current job?"

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