Recently I have seen more questions that, while on-topic for the workplace, just don't seem particularly useful. Questions like Would it be rude to add this email disclaimer? and What can I say in place of “Thanks” at the bottom of an email when it doesn't make sense? are clearly about the workplace and are well written, but seem like trivial or common sense situations. The poster is obviously concerned or worried, but most people would probably say that they are overthinking things.

What do we do with these sorts of questions? Is down-voting appropriate? The guidelines for down-voting suggest that you should

Use your downvotes whenever you encounter an egregiously sloppy, no-effort-expended post, or an answer that is clearly and perhaps dangerously incorrect.

These questions have some effort and thought put into them, and questions can't inherently be incorrect (can they?).

Voting to close doesn't specifically apply to these types of questions either.

Questions should be closed by casting close votes if:

  • they are sufficiently similar to existing questions and would be answered identically to them.
  • they are unclear, too broad, or otherwise problematic to identifying the problem in a way that can be properly addressed by answerers
  • they are sufficiently off-topic, as outlined in the help center.

These questions haven't been asked before, and they are certainly about the workplace. Maybe they could be considered unclear, but in most cases the question is easy to understand; it's just not always obvious that the problem is realy a problem.

So how should we handle these? Should they be down-voted or closed for being off-topic, or are these types of questions actually appropriate for the Workplace?

  • 1
    Regardless of what the guidelines say, you're free to vote however you wish - provided you're voting on the content and not the user. The tooltip for the downvote arrow states "...it is unclear or not useful" so if you think a question is so obvious that it's not going to be useful to anybody else, downvote if you want to. Commented Apr 2, 2015 at 15:39
  • 2
    The first has already been (correctly) closed as primarily opinion-based, and I don't think the second one being closed as primarily opinion-based would be off-target either.
    – jmac
    Commented Apr 7, 2015 at 5:27

3 Answers 3


Keep in mind what is common sense to you might not be to other people.

There are plenty of situations on here that a lot of people look at and think, "duh, do X" but if it was that obvious to everyone, the person asking wouldn't have had to ask it.

  • You would just write "Don't overthink this" in your answer or comment.
    – user8036
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 11:07
  • @JanDoggen hopefully that's a good thing... ?
    – enderland
    Commented Mar 31, 2015 at 12:23

Some of those (eg "thanks") can/should be referred elsewhere (one of the English language areas)...


Just telling them that they are overthinking it - that doesn't seem to be a waste of time to me. It is an annoyance to be subjected to having to read this kind of post but we're here to help, and the way to help is to tell the OP that they are overdoing it. For us, it's probably a cost of doing business and for being in business. Who else is going to tell them? Certainly, no one they knew before they bombed us with their post.

  • 8
    Nobody has to respond to any question. If you're viewing answering questions that you'd rather not spend time on as a "cost of doing business", please reconsider. There are lots of people here, so either there is something to say and somebody else will say it, or there isn't and the question will languish. Either way, adding a non-answer to "just [tell] them they are overthinking it" really doesn't help anybody -- not the OP, not the site, and not future readers. Further, these kinds of responses are often on the brusque side, sometimes bordering on rude, and that sure doesn't help us. Commented Apr 6, 2015 at 16:16

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