I responded to this question: How to take vacation days within first year without looking like a slacker

and after reflecting on my own response, and others that were much more popular, I think the responses given present a significant risk to the OP. After re-reading my own response, I think I responded with a different tone and perspective because of the popularity of existing answers. The popular answers sound great, but I think fail to actually address the question:

How to take vacation days within first year without looking like a slacker?

The core issue is appearance and how to handle the possibility that taking vacation will hinder, damage or impair the career of the OP. I agree that it should not but given the circumstances, the concern expressed by the OP that mishandling the situation will result in one or more of those outcomes.

In the question information is given about the OP's boss that indicates the boss may not take well to vacation requests, and emphasizes that the boss takes pride in taking little vacation.

Many of the popular answers immediately focus on the long term effects of excessive work and mock/minimize the perspective of the OP's boss (the most popular describes his actions as "idiotic"). Regardless of the intelligence of the boss or inherently idiotic decisions, the OP will still have to deal with the judgement and evaluation of this boss. The emphasis of the answers (and votes) seems to be on how the world "should" be for the OP, and not on the reality that the boss may not take well to the requests for vacation days. In the popular responses, that seems to be a secondary concern, at best.

At this point, the OP has not voted for a correct answer and it seems to me to be because the answers provided are generally biased toward what readers want the answer to be. The answers address the long-term consequences of excessive work instead of addressing the real problem that the OP faces - which the question directly asks: concern about appearance and his immediate desire to take vacation, but not an emphatic need to do so.

The answers, while popular, present a significant risk to the long-term career of the OP. In some cases, short-term sacrifice may benefit the long-term. In addition, long-term planning is sometimes made obsolete by short-term disruptions. It seems that the advice provided emphasize long-term goals at the cost of short-term risks.

I reviewed other meta questions, but I could not find one that addresses a situation where both the answers and the voting appear to avoid the actual question (which is valid), in favor of addressing a question that both responders and readers desire to discuss. The result being high risk, popular answers that may not be in the best interest of the OP.

Or, perhaps my interpretation of the question and/or responses missed the mark, and someone can clarify the distinction. Regardless, this seems important in providing quality workplace questions and answers. Also, I don't usually ask meta questions, so this may be a question better posed elsewhere. I appreciate any help in understanding this situation.

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    Good people can disagree about what is a good and what is a bad/dangerous answer. You have the ability to downvote and comment, as does everyone else. Answers often become "popular" without regard to their "goodness". Many answers seem to get upvoted if they reinforce the majority's beliefs, even if they don't really address the core problem being posed in the question. Such is the nature of sites that encourage voting/reputation points/badges and where answers aren't curated much if at all. So it goes... Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 23:20

3 Answers 3


Ah the good old Hot Network Questions

Welcome to the populist swamp that The Workplace becomes when it ends up on the Hot Network Questions. You'll find that in many cases, answers on HNQs tend to get upvotes when they support "what feels right", even if that doesn't match reality, which is altogether less fair. Answers that point out those issues typically attract downvotes despite raising very valid concerns.

Specifically for this question, every answer I've skimmed over fails to address the reality that in some companies, people are discouraged from actually taking their vacation days. This is undoubtedly a really, really shitty policy that will kill morale and drive away all high-performers, but companies that do this still exist. A good answer should say something along the lines of "vacation is part of your compensation so take it, or find another job" but mention a huge caveat: if you have little job security or are unlikely to find alternative employment quickly, you may have to accept this as a condition of the job, for now.

How should you handle such answers?

Ideally you'd comment with your concerns and downvote, but in the case of HNQs, downvotes rapidly become meaningless as users unfamiliar with the site flood in and blindly upvote. This is a known problem of the HNQ list and there's frankly little to be done at the level of an individual site.

SOP should still be to comment with your concerns. Make it short, well-written and to-the-point and abuse the bold tag (** **) to make it stand out, all in an effort to attract upvotes to the comment to make it stand out if the poster won't update his answer.

Post the question and your comments in chat to check if users there share your opinion and can help upvote/downvote or try to improve the thread.

If the answers are really that misguided or dangerous (see below), post on meta instead.

Caveat: Flag Dangerous Answers

This only applies to answers that are high-risk when it comes to people's career or reputation: advice that is wrong or not broadly applicable but not truly dangerous. Answers that are dangerous because of serious safety, legal, criminal or ethical concerns s̶h̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶f̶l̶a̶g̶g̶e̶d̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶m̶o̶d̶e̶r̶a̶t̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶t̶t̶e̶n̶t̶i̶o̶n̶!̶.

Update: Monica Cellio pointed out that it's not the moderators' job to remove answers made in good faith, even those that offer dangerous advice. Handle these answers the same as you would others but make it painfully clear in your comment how and why the advice given is dangerous. In the end, it's the responsibility of the reader to interpret answers and by extension the site user's responsibility to downvote and delete (10/20K rep), as pointed out in this similar thread on the Home Improvement Meta.

Full disclosure: my answers have ended up on the HNQ list a few dozen times so far and many have become the top-voted answer. Many more were rightly "beaten" by answers that were even more comprehensive or spoke from experience that I don't have. From what I've seen, a well-written, complete and well-reasoned answer will always beat out answers that are "just preaching to the choir". The issue is that those answers don't always get written before the influx of upvotes from HNQ which keeps inferior answers at the top. But this starting to sound more like a rant against HNQ and I'm probably taking this way off-topic.


I disagree with your chatacterization of the answers as being high risk.

While it is true that some organizations have a culture of no time off, violating that cultural expectation is unlikely to result in a significant negative outcome -- a realistic worst case scenario is that he doesn't get a bonuses/promotion. For the bonus, if his co-workers don't get time off and he does, he is already getting a bonus that they aren't. His job is almost certainly not at risk, unless they are laying people off for other reasons and choose him because others are effectively cheaper.

As long as he is not actually slacking off, any negative view of his taking time off that he is owed, is going to be minor.

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    Are you speaking from experience? In my experience, daily pressure in such a culture is not nearly so benign as you make it sound. The anxiety about being selected for challenging/interesting tasks, important projects and concerns about your boss seeing your work schedule as a hindrance to progress are not accounted for in your response. You do not include those aspects in your "realistic worse case scenario" description.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 12, 2015 at 17:28
  • What you are describing are self imposed consequences, not something imposed by management or even peers. Here's a real consequence for you: a 9.1% reduction in pay. That's what the OP gets for giving up his vacation days. He can fight any negative impression of "slacking" that his boss or co-workers might form because he took time off by getting his task done. But in a use it or loose it business, his pay cut is very real, and no amount of "he does a good job" will get it back.
    – jmoreno
    Commented Dec 13, 2015 at 0:08
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    As long as he is not actually slacking off, any negative view of his taking time off that he is owed, is going to be minor. Isn't that making some broad assumptions regarding culture?
    – Myles
    Commented Dec 14, 2015 at 19:37

I wrote the answer you are probably referring to Jim. I think as others will attest I am not very politically correct, nor am I conformist, nor do I write any answers that are trying to gain votes - I am the big mouth tech without any sort of filter. My answers are quite the opposite to what others have propose as HNQ vote getters. My answers are real and edgy and more often than not I am writing them how I would handle the situation for long-term benefits.

I agree with you that in some circumstances that taking my advice could turn out bad for this particular question - IN THE SHORT-TERM. I did not dance around this. If it does you don't want to work for that company and in my opinion they have no idea how to assess talent (using vacation taking vs. true ability/output) and have no idea how to treat employees.

I think in the short-term some companies (5% or less) might give this sort of person more regard but long-term you might get your self pigeon-holed into a position or working for a company that you... really don't want to work for.

Learn the most, be the best, take your vacation... If they don't like this you can easily move to another company. Being disgruntled or unhappy because you can't use benefits is not a good solution as you won't be as productive for a company you don't like.

I feel that taking your advise really sets the person up for being unhappy. Who cares if your boss thinks you are a work horse - you are his/her work horse? If you went out to eat dinner with me would you give me half your lobster because I would appreciate you more? (If so let's go out sometime)

  • I appreciate your response here. Your answer is representative of my concern. The OP asked "how to not look like a slacker" and your response is essentially, "it shouldn't matter if you do" which didn't address the question. Also, you had embedded assumptions ("use it or lose it", the boss may hate doesn't take vacation but does he care if the OP does?), ignore sacrifices now for a better future ("saved" personal time is valuable, an early career promotion can provide significant leisure time and money later). You are "V for Vendetta" and rebellious, and you have cheerleaders... but...
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 5:33
  • No no no. I am saying that vacation has absolutely nothing to do with slacker - there is maybe even a negative correlation in my opinion. Equating the two seems completely asinine to me. I run a large tech group. I went on a 3 week vacation this summer and we had some outages that were a bit outside my group's control... I had my boss's boss calling me on my cell to VPN in and help... Yea it sucked taking a day out of my vacation but its the job. So if I never took vacation I would just do these things and really no one may even understand my impact... they do now.
    – blankip
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 5:45
  • I agree with you about vacation. However, the question is "the appearance of being a slacker" and how his actions might hinder his "push for raises and promotions" - which means he's asking how to address immediate concerns in his current role. It may seem asinine to you, but it is a real workplace worry that people have. He is asking, as a new hire, how to handle this so that the things you are saying will be accepted/evident - and if they are not, what steps to take. Also "music festival vacations" may not allow him to be on call, or perform well if asked to, like you did.
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 6:03
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    Yea I think we are going around in circles. I completely disagree with you and I have been very very successful in the tech industry always taking my full vacation. I took my vacation my first year and actually went on a 2 weeker within 6 months of me being hired. And was promoted to a manager position 6 months after that... A slacker is really a euphemism for a lazy dumbass. Nobody thinks you are a lazy dumbass for taking vacation. They think you are a lazy dumbass because you don't pull your weight, learn things as quick as others, bring extras to the table etc.
    – blankip
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 6:24
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    The OP may not be as talented as you or you may not have had a boss like his. If the OP is as strong willed, talented, perhaps lucky and other things, as you have been in your career, then the question is really unimportant - he will succeed regardless of maximizing his vacation time. I will give more thought to what you are saying, though. I am trying to understand how to interpret answers from this site for myself as well...
    – Jim
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 17:47
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    @Jim - The expectation of your job is where you are at. Would I answer something suggesting that anyone could run a large tech group at a multinational? No. If someone were not good enough they would stay at current position, not skipping vacation given to them. You are basically saying that I should have written the answer as if I was talking to a person who was very very lucky to be in their position that they don't have the skills for so they need to suck up and don't ever take vacation?
    – blankip
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 23:08

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