I don't understand why questions about idling at work gets closed as subjective, but other questions that also ask about how much time are spared.

However, from the management point of view, if the project deadlines have already been sacrificed, then how much of idling time can we attribute to the failure to deliver? How do managers measure and define the acceptable range? I think this is no different that those interview and job hoping questions, except one is in operations the other is in HR.

The question I wanted to ask, but is warned by the blue popup bubble that it "appers subjective and is likely to be closed", is:

What are the management tools that are/can be used you use to measure, quantify and benchmark to define an acceptable idle time and frequency of idling? e.g. 7.5 seconds on Farmville every 1 minute, versus 15 mins in the pantry for every 2 hours of work.

Is this a valid question?

I asked this question to Google but didn't get an answer, so I wrote a small application to measure the keyboard and mouse input idle time. At the end of one day, I personally clocked 45mins of idle time, while the worse performing member clocked 2:30 hours. Sure, this application is not perfect, people can still chat on Skype and surf SE like I am doing now, but I think this is a good start. With this result, I can quantify the quantify the acceptable range and I think this makes an appropriate answer for the above question.

Can I post the question on Workplace now?

  • 1
    Hey Jake, sorry, I'm having a bit of trouble figuring out which question you're trying to ask. Are you asking why the questions that you reference were closed/not closed? Or whether the question you are talking about is appropriate for the site? Your title asks about one, the question in the body asks the other. Mind a clarification? Thanks!
    – jmac
    Apr 10 '14 at 7:36
  • @jmac Thanks for your interest. I am asking why the questions are closed/not closed. For example workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/566/… has the same theme as those closed ones, I still don't really understand the difference. Maybe my English is bad?
    – user5473
    Apr 10 '14 at 8:49
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    Thanks for the clarification Jake -- don't worry about your English, it's great, our community can just be a bit confusing at first. I'll try to give you a good answer later on. Thanks for bringing it up on meta!
    – jmac
    Apr 10 '14 at 8:51

How about instead asking for the problems associated with measuring time like this and how they can be abated? That would be on topic and constructive. You could even ask how to determine the acceptable range.

The question you are asking about the range is going to be opinion based. And most of those opinions are going to be that there is no way to actually quantify it. That is not going to help anyone.

  • How about asking what tools they use to measure? There the questions I linked asked the same.
    – user5473
    Apr 10 '14 at 3:52
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    I urge you to ask the question I put here first. But you can ask what ever you like. I think you have a tool looking for a problem to solve. The what tools question will likely be considered a shopping list question and closed. Apr 10 '14 at 3:55
  • You could ask an effective way to measure productivity in a specific job activity, but I suspect most general office type work would be too broad to ask. And once you get it down to the specific type my guess is you do not need to ask the question. Apr 10 '14 at 3:57
  • Sorry, but wouldn't "You could even ask how to determine the acceptable range." also be subjective? How do you know which method is correct or the best?
    – user5473
    Apr 10 '14 at 8:51
  • There is good subjective and bad subjective. In general good questions ask the how and why, not the which and what. Apr 15 '14 at 15:31

On-topic off-topic at The Workplace is often an exercise in I know it when I see it. Older questions (like some of those you linked) would be less appropriate now, like many of the questions on Stack Overflow from 2008/2009 when it first started. Rather than focus on contrasting 6 different questions on very different topics, let's focus on your question.

From your explanation, I think there are three areas where you may run in to trouble:

  1. Your question isn't clear
  2. Your problem isn't clear
  3. It may be read as asking how to do your job

Your Question Isn't Clear

You're asking two different questions:

from the management point of view, if the project deadlines have already been sacrificed, then how much of idling time can we attribute to the failure to deliver? How do managers measure and define the acceptable range?

One is asking for tools, one is asking where to assign blame (which the tools could be used to measure).

Your Problem Isn't Clear

As explained in our help center, "You should only ask practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face." Ideally your question will explain the problem, explain how you've tried to solve it and why it didn't work, and then let the experts in our community give you their answers based on that information.

If you can't define your question well, it may be because you still aren't clear on the problem. It sounds like the actual issue you're facing is that a project missed the deadline, people want to blame someone, as a result they want to monitor idle time and figure out if it's 'excessive'.

If that's the case, you may want to focus less on the tool you created, and more about explaining why you are focusing on measuring employee slack time after a project misses its deadline.

How Do I...

Depending on the problem, and the question asked, people may determine that this is more about how to do your job rather than a problem that involves the Workplace. Be sure that your question is about how to solve a general workplace issue, and isn't about, "How should I measure time spent idle?" which is going to be something that you and your company has to figure out.

We don't know what you'd end up asking, but I recommend taking the time to think about what the problem is, if the question scopes your problem well, and if it's clear that there are solutions that the community can provide and evaluate objectively that aren't just providing tool suggestions, etc.

  • "Older questions... would be less appropriate now" -- time for some historical locks?
    – gnat
    Apr 14 '14 at 7:05
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    @gnat, no need for historical locks. If you or anyone else in the community goes through and finds bad questions that are still open, go ahead and cast a close vote. If there is really something that we should keep around because it has historical significance, feel free to flag it as such, but chances are those posts would be few and far between I think
    – jmac
    Apr 14 '14 at 7:06

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