I've appeared here because, having bitched a bit about the some of the hot questions from this site, I thought I'd make an effort to pitch into the ordinary process and see what it's like.

It seems to that this site resembles some of the other 'inevitably subjective' sites; in the end, most answers will be opinion or personal experience, not objective, provable truth.

So, the second question I ventured to answer was 'Is there a professional way to refuse a time-consuming programming task given as a test for a job?'. Since it's a question about why companies that hire ask for certain things, and since, as it happens, I'm the CTO of a company that hires programmers, and does the very thing in question, it seemed to me that what I know about the process would prove useful. So I mentioned my job to 'back it up,' and make it clear that I'm not just making stuff up.

This did not go down very well with the OP :-)

Admittedly, I did not offer a direct answer to 'how to turn it down', but rather some background on why it happens and how the someone might approach it.

So, meta-persons, what's your advice? Continue to note my job when answering from my experience? Or not?


4 Answers 4


Yes, we have a back it up (and don't repeat others) rule.

Mentioning your position and experience is exactly right here. Please keep doing that. If you're answering a question about what interviewers do, explaining your background in interviewing/hiring is highly relevant. Some questions require different kinds of backing-up (like data), but many of our questions can be addressed through experience.

I'm sorry the OP didn't like your answer. Give it time; in the grand scheme of things the OP is one person, and no one person speaks for the entire community.

  • 4
    Thanks, Monica. I hope you were smiling when you wrote that, you've surely read about 100 posts by me on meta.stackoverflow making the same point about not getting hung up on one vote or comment. I wrote this question to check my understanding of how you work here, and you told me what I needed to know.
    – user13659
    Aug 25, 2014 at 0:25

Just another thought, sometimes people come here wanting to hear a specific answer or type of answer.

In those cases you might give an answer which is different and receive negative feedback from the asker (or even the community at large, through downvotes).

  • 1
    Yes the OP likely came here looking for validation that he was being asked to do something unreasonable. The other thing to remember is this site is not primarily for the OP it is for the people who come after. Even if the OP does not choose your answer, currently 12 others have said it is a quality answer. Aug 26, 2014 at 16:03

Continue to note my job when answering from my experience? Or not?

Yes, note your job when it's relevant to the question being asked.

As you indicated, being a CTO not only adds some gravitas to the answer, but can provide the "prove it" portion as well.

You unfortunately provided parts of an answer that the OP (and perhaps others) didn't want to hear. In those cases we all can expect to be downvoted. That's just part of the way things tend to work.


I will add that simply mentioning your position is helpful, but also mentioning a specific example you've dealt with helps as well. I feel like you did this by explaining that you've encountered candidates who looked good on paper but couldn't hold up when it came time to deliver.

As for the comments, the question is asking how one might refuse the task, but it also included an OR condition where the asker asks if it's best to just jump through the hoops anyway. On Workplace SE, like any Stack Exchange site, it's important to clearly and directly state what action the asker should take.

It sounds like you're implying one should bite the bullet and jump through the hoops. You've already explained why, but I think directly adding that in a sentence or two will solidify your answer. Hope this helps!

  • An edit is coming.
    – user13659
    Aug 25, 2014 at 1:26
  • Right. We are looking for actionable answers. Even if the action recommended is "take no action" or "here are your options or the factors you need to consider: go over them before you decide to act" Aug 25, 2014 at 23:18