So I mostly participate on the StackExchange site Superuser.com. Answers there, for the most part, have one solution. Sometimes, there are more than one answer, but all have a logical path to a solution. For example, "How do I delete a file?" There are multiple answers, each with a logical path to complete the action.

However, when I look at question and answers on the Workplace StackExchange site, I find my self shaking my head. So many of the questions revolve around common sense, ethics, opinion, and legality. Take the question, "Is it ok if I work shirtless" has no definite answer. Sure, common sense dictates that we shouldnt go shirtless in office environment. However, there may very well be an office that is OK with that. It may be perfectly legal in your particular legal jurisdiction. Ethics/opinion change based on your sex.

I bring this up, as I just "answered" this question, which has no answer, as there are pros and cons.

So I am curious, as I am more of a logical person, how do you go about answering questions that have no clearly defined answer? And how do you give an answer that clearly revolves around law, when I am sure most of us have no law background?


2 Answers 2


So many of the questions revolve around common sense It is my experience that common sense is not so common :)

Sometimes you just have to spell out what may be obvious to everyone else. We all have blind spots, and it's difficult to be objective when you're in the middle of something. Often I feel our answers are simply validation of what the OP knows but just is looking for verification.

If a question clearly revolves around law, and the law is something that you aren't giving advice about, but rather pointing the OP to the appropriate piece of legislation. Asking for legal advice is off-topic with a specific reason:

Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here.

  • I guess my issue is that it comes down to the fact that so many of these questions cannot be answered definitively. People might give 20 answers to one question, all with valid points, but non can be said to be 100% right or wrong.
    – Keltari
    Aug 17, 2015 at 21:58
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    The Workplace is a very human site :) What we are dealing with 99% of the time is someone trying to deal with a situation at work that is impacting on their ability to enjoy their job. If you look at those 20 questions, there is some common thread of an answer (be aware of me too type answers), unless the question is blatantly unanswerable like "What colour should I make my curtains?" :)
    – Jane S
    Aug 17, 2015 at 22:03
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    @Keltari that is precisely why you should always include an answer to "why?" in an answer here, because it provides insight into how to make the decision. That insight is what is helpful to other users here, not necessarily just "do X" but "because of X, Y, Z [which might not be applicable to other readers] do this."
    – enderland
    Aug 17, 2015 at 22:23
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    +1 for your first phrase alone (though I agree with the rest of it as well). By all accounts I'm no managing or workplace expert since I'm relatively new to the workforce but I can still provide useful answers just by outlining the common sense approach to user's questions.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Aug 24, 2015 at 10:56

I haven't been here very long, but I'm an old man who worked his way up through the ranks in 3 countries, before eventually owning my own business. As stated before common sense isn't as common as you would expect. And as with anything in life experience makes a big difference. So when someone has a problem with their manager, I can see their problem from many angles, theirs, the managers, the colleagues etc,. and hopefully give some helpful advice.... or a swift wakeup call.

Quite possibly the OP already knows what answer they want, they just want someone else to say it.

So, quite a few things go through my mind, to me it's a logical progression to the best answer/option I can think of based on my own experience and my understanding of the issue.

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