Now that we have graduated, I think we should re-visit this discussion. As an official site, we should strive to clearly state what is on- and off-topic here to help guide new users to become productive contributors, and lessen confusion over why certain types of questions are closed.
In this question Jim said we could edit the on-topic and off-topic pages of the help center.
I see several issues with the pages as they currently are:
- On-topic page discusses what is off-topic more than how to ask a good question
- Off-topic page discusses what is on-topic (or how to ask a good question) more than the on-topic page
- Nowhere is there an explanation of what the various close reasons mean
- Guidelines for answers are tacked on at the end of the on-topic page sort of as an afterthought
I would like to see the pages broken down in to manageable chunks that discuss a specific concern.
- How to Ask a Good Question When a new user comes and posts a question that has merit (has an answer, will be useful to other people, etc.) but needs a bit of improvement to get the quality up, we can make edits and/or post a link to this page in the comments explaining why it was changed the way it was. This will help people who ask good questions ask better questions in the future.
- Why is My Question On Hold? When someone asks a question receiving close votes because it entirely misses the mark, it would be nice to have a single page that explains what the close reasons are, and what they mean. We can just link it in the comments so that the user understands that it isn't the quality of the question, but the direction of the question that is the issue.
- What Makes a Good Answer? Occasionally (okay, not occasionally, quite often on migrated or 'hot' questions) people will give answers that don't actually answer the question or won't be of use to people in the future. What makes a good answer here is very different than on other sites, and having a single page to direct new users to would help to acclimate them to the semi-unique aspects of the Workplace.
While I like the division above (since it will make it easier to point users in the direction of the advice they need), others may not agree with me, and it may be a challenge to have three separate pages. Let's discuss if this division of pages makes sense first, and then we can focus on actually drafting the pages to be more useful to users.
For reference, here are the current pages:
What topics can I ask about here?
The Workplace Stack Exchange is a Q&A site about the workplace and other career-related topics. It is for members of the workforce to get answers on topics such as the job hunting process, interviewing, salary negotiation, and professionalism within the Workplace.
With your help, we're working together to build a library of detailed answers to every question about the workplace.
What questions are off topic here?
- "I need advice on...", "What should I do?", or "Which job should I take?"
- Questions looking for opinions on what to do but with no specific problem are suited for discussion boards (not a question/answer site) and generally will be closed on The Workplace as "primarily opinion-based." For information on how to write a good subjective question see here. Remember a real question has an answer, not just opinions or ideas.
- "Is it legal..."
- If a question requires a lawyer to answer it, we can't help. These situations are simply too specific and too complex to definitively answer on our site.
- "Please review my resume/CV"
- Questions need to apply to more than just you. Since this site is here to help everyone, and not review to a specific resume, these are not "questions" to us as they don't have definite answers.
- "How do I learn to be a..." / "How do I perform the job of a ..."
- Questions should be about problems you are encountering or have encountered in the workplace, and not the learning/applying of specific job functions.
- "What salary/hourly rate should I look for? How much should I charge for X?"
- Questions regarding salary are too localized to the city, timeframe, job sector and specific skills. Answers to these questions become quickly outdated and just aren't helpful to others.
- For general salary hunting tips, see How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for?
For more help, see "What types of questions should I avoid asking?"
How should I answer?
Make sure your answer adds helpful information and is a complete, stand-alone answer. Read other answers first and be sure not to completely restate information that has already been posted.
Please note that answers should be backed up either with a reference, or experiences that happened to you personally. You should always include in your answer information about why you think your answer is correct.
If your question is not specifically on-topic for The Workplace Stack Exchange, it may be on topic for another Stack Exchange site. If no site currently exists that will accept your question, you may commit to or propose a new site at Area51, the place where new Stack Exchange communities are democratically created.
What types of questions should I avoid asking?
First, make sure that your question is on-topic for this site.
You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face. Chatty, open-ended questions diminish the usefulness of our site and push other questions off the front page.
Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.
If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here. However, if your motivation is “I would like others to explain ______ to me”, then you are probably OK. (Discussions are of course welcome in our real time web chat.)
To prevent your question from being flagged and possibly removed, avoid asking subjective questions where …
- every answer is equally valid: “What’s your favorite ______?”
- your answer is provided along with the question, and you expect more answers: “I use ______ for ______, what do you use?”
- there is no actual problem to be solved: “I’m curious if other people feel like I do.”
- you are asking an open-ended, hypothetical question: “What if ______ happened?”
- your question is just a rant in disguise: “______ sucks, am I right?”
(The above section was adapted from MetaFilter’s FAQ.)
Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:
- inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
- tend to have long, not short, answers
- have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
- invite sharing experiences over opinions
- insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
- are more than just mindless social fun
If your question is about the site itself, please don't ask it here. Visit our meta-discussion site, where you can talk about things like what questions are appropriate, what tags should be used, suggest a feature, point out a bug, or generally discuss how this site works.
What does it mean if a question is "closed" or "on hold"?
Why are some questions marked "on hold"?
Questions that need additional work or that are not a good fit for this site may be put on hold by experienced community members. While questions are on hold, they cannot be answered, but can be edited to make them eligible for reopening.
Questions that are edited by the original poster within five days of being put on hold are automatically added to a reopening queue for community review. Questions that are not reopened within five days will change from
Each closed or on-hold question provides a reason that helps the original poster (or other community members) know what they'd need to do in order to get the question reopened.
These are the categories of questions that may be closed by the community:
- duplicate - the fundamental goal of closing duplicate questions is to help people find the right answer by getting all of those answers in one placeThis question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please edit this question to explain how it is different or ask a new question.
- off topic - each community decides which specific topics are and are not allowed on their site.This question does not appear to be about the workplace within the scope defined by the community. What's on- and off-topic is not always intuitive, so it may be necessary to reword the question to fit this site's scope after reviewing the community guidelines.
Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope.
- unclear what you're asking - sometimes we need more information in order to help solve your problemPlease clarify your specific problem or provide additional details to highlight exactly what you need. The way the question is currenty written, it's hard to tell exactly what you're asking.
Edit your post to be more specific about what you're looking for, and be sure to address any concerns that other users brought up in the comments.
- too broad - if your question could be answered by an entire book, or has many valid answers, it's probably too broad for our formatThere are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow down the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.
- primarily opinion-based - discussions focused on diverse opinions are great, but they just don't fit our format well.Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than on facts, references, or specific expertise.
Who can put questions "on hold"?
Users with 500 reputation can cast up to 24 close votes per day. When a question reaches 5 close votes, it is marked
[on hold], and will no longer accept answers. Those users may vote to reopen questions the same way. Each user may only vote to close and reopen a given question once. (For example, if you vote to close a question that is closed and then later reopened, you cannot vote to close it again.)
Moderators may close or reopen any question with a single vote.
For more about reopening questions, see "What if I disagree with the closure of a question? How can I reopen a closed question?"
Why are some questions marked "closed"?
Questions are marked
[on hold]for the first five days after closure to encourage edits and improvements to the question. If a question is edited by the original poster when it is marked
[on hold], it will automatically be placed in a review queue to be considered for reopening. If it is not reopened within five days, the
[on hold]notice automatically changes to
[closed].There is functionally no difference between an
[on hold]question and a
[closed]one; neither can be answered until it is re-opened, but they both allow comments, votes and edits.