That is probably a canonical example of a "too localized" question.

A truly helpful answer (down the hall, then the first door on your left) would be far too specific to be helpful to anyone else. There could be some general guidelines (usually on the interior of the building, often near the elevators, surrounding water fountains) that might help a certain percentage of people find the bathroom, but maybe not the original questioner.

The most honest and correct answer is "It depends." (no puns on a certain brand name intended. If you don't get what I'm referring to, consider yourself lucky and move on).

This is a general issue we have and will likely continue to have on this site. "The workplace" can include a two person start-up, the military, or a variety of things in between. There are very few questions (at least ones that are likely to be asked) that will have a single correct answer that will apply to all these different environments.

I thought of this when considering the question "Difference Between Manager and Director." I voted to close as too localized, and left a comment to that effect. Different companies use titles to mean different things, and even the same company is liable to change the meaning of its titles from time to time. Any answer is likely to be localized to the answer's company.

At the same time, there are some general principles that are more likely than not to apply. "Director" usually connotes a greater level of authority than "manager" or "supervisor." In some countries, the title of Director carries with it certain legal standing. Is it worthwhile for the site to capture these generalities, even though they may not always apply?

  • 2
    "Where's the bathroom?" would be off topic, unless of course we take "members of the workforce navigating the professional setting" literally.
    – yannis
    Jul 9, 2012 at 20:19
  • @YannisRizos But then it would be too localized! :)
    – jcmeloni
    Jul 9, 2012 at 21:15
  • 1
    Down the hall, then the first door on your left, the sign says "Gentlemen", but you can ignore that.
    – TRiG
    Aug 20, 2012 at 21:41

3 Answers 3


I think this question is to dependent on the business level. I think if you asked this question with a large corporation scope you could probably get a good answer for it. But as you get into smaller companies you sometimes find a tendency to reward managers and professionals with titles that do not really convey their duties.

So If we limit the scope to large corporations we should be able to get a good answer.

I also think the question should request references. This should filter the I have another take on that answers that do not really add anything. Perhaps it could even reword the question to be a canonical what are the most common levels of corporate governance and how do the responsibilities differ at each level?

There are plenty of books on corporate governance to provide good referenced answers.


I have attempted to edit the question to get at the "general principles" that you are asking about. It still might use some work, but I personally would leave the question open in its new form:

Is there a consistent, practical difference between a "Manager" and "Director" in the workplace, when applied to the same department?

For example: a Manager of Product Development versus a Director of Product Development.

If there is no consistent difference, are there any generalizations that can be made? Does an HR department make any generalizations about the difference in such titles?

Or, is the difference too arbitrary to make any good guesses about without knowing more about the company?

  • 1
    I didn't see this when I closed the question in question, but I think that closing it, editing it a bit more (you, me, anyone else), and flagging for reopen after discussion here is the best course of action anyway. I think the edits make it too discussion-y.
    – jcmeloni
    Jul 9, 2012 at 21:12

The bathroom example might be a little bit less localized and more widely applicable if it were edited to be "When in a large corporate building, what steps can I follow to locate the bathroom?"

Then an example answer could be:

In general, bathrooms are usually located more towards the core of the building. This is because the areas where people spend most of their time, their offices or desks, are located closer to windows to maximize outdoor lighting. Since bathrooms typically don't need windows, they can be located in the core. In addition, they're generally located near staircases or elevators, as there is an advantage in running the plumbing in the areas where there's already openings for the stairs.

If in doubt as to where the location of the bathroom would be in a building, locate the nearest person that looks like he/she works there, and ask the following question:

Excuse me sir/maam, do you know where I might find the restroom?

After this person gives you that information, it's customary to say:

Thank you!

Perhaps this can serve as an example of how we might edit a potentially too localized question to make it more widely applicable.

  • While I agree in theory that localized questions can be generalized, I don't really like the idea of the infinite possible questions where "We don't know, we can't know, ask someone where you work" is the only real answer. See also this answer on the topic of another "you have to ask" question
    – Rarity
    Dec 25, 2012 at 17:21
  • @rarity - Ah, but the thing is, there's much more substance here than merely "just ask". I've taught the op how to fish..... Of course, if there was nothing to teach, if the full answer was indeed "just ask" with nothing added, then too localized would be very applicable.
    – jmort253
    Dec 25, 2012 at 19:10

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