I know there are a few posts like this one, but this isn't an "answer" per se. It's an issue.

Those of us who have been on this SE for at least a couple of weeks, know the general idea behind writing a question that's relevant for this SE. However, most of those who ask questions, are completely new to the SE.

When I write a question on Workplace, I have to choose my words very delicately in order to not get downvoted and closed. Those who are new here, don't know this. They are asking questions specific to their workplace and situation, because that's what they need help with.

At this point, the Workplace StackExchange seems like its community is very bitter. And most of the questions that aren't being closed or put on hold, are asked by those who already have a non-trivial amount of points.

Bottom line, being new on this SE is hard. And some of the comments people leave are just insensitive and rude.

  • 9
    Please flag rude comments when you see them. (Maybe you are already, but this is a general request.) The mods don't see every comment automatically, so please help us out so we can clean up inappropriate stuff. Jan 4, 2015 at 1:40
  • possible duplicate of test failed: a question from unregistered, 0-score account: "...All I can say is WTF. Totally new users are literally invited to drop anything at the site without even a hint to help them understand what it is about and how it works."
    – gnat
    Jan 4, 2015 at 13:38
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    I was a new user once, so I'm receptive to your concerns. Can you cite some examples?
    – Jim G.
    Jan 4, 2015 at 18:26
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    I tend to agree. Do you have some suggestions on how Workplace can do better? Jan 5, 2015 at 15:42
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    One challenge with this site is that the "primarily opinion-based" litmus test is applied inconsistently. For example, this question was closed for being opinion based, while this one remains open. I understand the intent behind the guideline, but it's very difficult to consistently apply it.
    – Roger
    Jan 5, 2015 at 17:23
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    The problem with this site is that almost anything in a workplace is heavily opinion based, but as Roger said it's being applied inconsistently. I find this one of the trickiest SE sites to participate in, as we have a few people who seem determined to close every question.
    – Jon Story
    Jan 6, 2015 at 11:38
  • @Roger FWIW both questions you referred are closed now
    – gnat
    Jan 6, 2015 at 18:06
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    I noticed that too. I think my point remains, though. On this particular SE site, the question of what is 'opinion based' and what's not is itself highly subjective, since the vast majority of questions asked are "what do you think I should do" questions. I think this is at the root of a lot of new-user confusion about the site's purpose.
    – Roger
    Jan 6, 2015 at 18:54
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    Agree, people tend to downvote the question if they doesn't share the same worldview with the OP, instead of concentrating on answers that provide various worldviews.
    – user1023
    Jan 7, 2015 at 15:15
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    The main reason I am not really contributing with questions on workplace is exactly the one mentioned in the post. If there is anything I am interested it will be about some somehow specific situation and posting that will result my question being closed. Even in the cases where I am actually posting a generic question which had upvotes and great answers the question was still closed. And I see such questions, with 4-5+ upvotes and 3-4 great answers being put on hold or closed although those are clearly useful to a large pool of people.
    – Memleak
    Jan 9, 2015 at 12:44

3 Answers 3


It is pretty much the same on all the good SE sites, and that's the way it should be: The goal of the SE sites is not to be simply a blog or discussion board, but to serve as something of an authoratitive knowledge base on the subjects dealt with. So yes, the bar is high.

In my experience on the various sites, which is fairly significant, (and I have closed one or two long running, fairly high scoring accounts for personal reasons) 95% of the time that your question is closed, it's for good reason - but you often have to read the comments carefully and go through the relevant online documentation to understand why.

  • What that suggests to me is that we need to be better about explaining what the issue is and helping to edit questions into a form that fits here
    – keshlam
    Jan 10, 2015 at 17:41
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    I agree that when you downvote or flag or vote to close a question you should leave a good explanation in a comment - personally, I try to do so. But editing is questionable IMO - I generally only edit questions that are fundamentally good, but there are problems with language, etc. Editing a bad question to make it good is probably not such a good idea - it's a lot of work, and after all is said and done, you may not get it right.
    – Vector
    Jan 11, 2015 at 0:32
  • I'm not sure that it's productive to compare this SE to other SEs, not to mention differentiating between good and bad SEs. The Workplace SE has its own problems with a high number of downvotes and closings. This should be dealt with on its own merits.
    – Alec
    Jan 11, 2015 at 11:27
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    @Aleksander Does WP.SE have a problem with downvotes and closings... or does it have a problem with bad and off-topic questions? All a matter of point of view.
    – Philipp
    Jan 11, 2015 at 12:12

You are right it is hard to write a good question for this site. That is actually by design. The reason people come here instead of other internet sites and forums is because we have high standards which reduces the clutter. That bar is high for everyone new and old users. I have seen several questions by users with > 10k reputation down-voted and closed because it was a bad question.

Now on the comments thing I completely agree. Comments should be for clarification only, and any comment that could be perceived to have any snark or disrespect should be removed. The people come here because they are having problems and having a few people insult them and their question with out offering any real help is not just off putting for them it is for me as well. I flag it when I see it but we have at least one user who comments on almost ever post and most of the comments seem rude or unhelpful... but for some reason that is tolarated. Flag it when you see it and dont worry if your flag gets declined or if you think someone else must have already flagged it. The more flags a comment gets the more likely action will be taken.


I can understand why it may seem a bit harsh for beginners, but if one really wants to be part of the SE community I think he'll get over it pretty quickly and will make the effort to learn how things work.

As to why I think it's important to keep it this way: those of us who are used to the quality of question and answers that can be found on SE tend to forget that the general level of the rest of Internet Q&A, discussions and forums websites is actually pretty low.

It takes strong moderation to maintain an above-average level through the years and with so much users.

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