So I am extremely confused as to what is a proper question on workplace. As far as I can tell, every question I've seen, closed or open, is either opinion based, seeking advice, or (somehow) considered company specific, can anyone give me a good example of an appropriate question for this stackexchange?

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    click here to find over 5,000 examples: list of open questions with positive score
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 8:19
  • The text for the "opinion" close reason says something like "Of course any set of answers will reflect their author's o opinions, but we believe that answers to this question will be less supportable with facts than is desirable, making it difficult to say what is a good or bad answer. That makes the question one that is outside the scope of SE as a whole; it's really discussion rather than q&a, and as such should be moved to a site which is discussion oriented."
    – keshlam
    Commented Apr 5, 2016 at 9:46
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    @gnat I'd hazard a guess that quite a few of those questions would probably be closed if asked today. Some will have inevitably slipped through and a number of olders questions are probably off-topic under the current guidelines without getting a historical lock. In fact, unless this query is no longer functional, we only have a single historical lock on the site (hasnotice covers more than just historical locks).
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:32
  • @Lilienthal I think this is the case when it's more productive to stick with the principle "innocent until proven guilty" and just fix occasional broken windows when these are discovered
    – gnat
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:47
  • @gnat True, but I just wanted to mention that not every one of those 5000 questions will be a proper question.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 13:01

1 Answer 1


Here are some of the criteria I use for determining whether a question is suited to this site. Most of this is based on the help center guidelines and the close reasons specified on meta.

While this should go without saying, this is my interpretation of the guidelines. Whether a question is "proper" is decided by the community as a whole so you may not agree with all or even any of my criteria.


StackExchange is meant to be a Q&A repository for future use. Anything that is too specific to a particular situation or set of circumstances risks being useless to others facing a similar situation or problem.

But every question is specific to a personal situation, isn't it? Of course it is, but the point is that the question should be answerable when the particulars vary. We should be able to generalise the question so that the minute details don't matter.

In this vein, anything related to company policies or use of a company tool, procedure or resource is almost certainly not useful. Those are things to ask of your colleagues or support staff.


Complaints and rants aren't questions so by definitions can have no answers which means that they don't fit our format. There should be a core question or goal in the post that can have practical answers.

  • Don't ask: "My boss constantly berates me and is making my life miserable."
  • Ask: "How can I get my boss to treat me with respect when we have no HR department?"

Note that in the first example the lack of a question mark is a typical give-away for rant questions.

Not Personal Advice

This is sort of a combination of the first two criteria. When you ask us to make up your mind for you, that's not something that will be useful to others and we can't really answer it with any authority: we don't know all the details. Unless you write us a ten thousand word essay chronicling your entire life there will be important details missing that only you can know.

What we can do, is guide people towards making their own decisions.

Note that the second example is borderline and can likely be generalised to the third example. It's a potential duplicate of that real question.

Not a duplicate

Variations on a theme are not allowed and closed as duplicates. For a question to stand on its own, there should be critical differences that would invalidate good answers on potential originals. A lack of good answers is not an excuse for recreating a question!

Not Opinion-based

This is a tricky one and the one that's most up for interpretation. Variations on "Will this improve my chances?" and "What do X think about Y?" are likely all opinion-based. The main criteria is whether there's a "standard opinion" for a particular culture/industry/area.

For instance "Will coming in late affect my career?" could be seen as being opinion-based as some managers will care and some won't. However, in the US and many European countries being late to work (without flexible hours) will negatively affect your reputation in virtually every company. In other countries that's much less of a problem. When properly defined a question like this can be answerable and useful.

Of interest to the site

The question should relate directly to the concept of "navigating the workplace" to use the wording of the help center. Our site's userbase cannot be expected to answer legal questions where interpretation of the law is required. The intricacies of Kanban and Scrum are better suited to the Project Management site. User access control is something for the Security site.

We may wear many hats across the StackExchange network but you should imagine that everyone answering questions here is an HR manager and restrict yourself to topics they would be able to answer.

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    Good answer! While we could nitpick some of the specifics here, I think this is a great framework for considering questions. Thanks! Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 12:06
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    Nicely done! Thank you for writing this up. Commented Apr 6, 2016 at 21:08
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    So how does this get codified as practice? From my small viewpoint, relative to other SE sites, workplace has far more closed questions, far fewer questions up for review, far more upvotes and answers to closed questions, and far less pushback on the OP to aid in framing the question in an appropriate way. There are also many with nearly identical answers, where a comment is far more appropriate, and high upvote counts on those duplicates.
    – jimm101
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 13:10
  • @jimm101 The problem is that SE does not allow for codification. Users are free to use the site as they wish and it's an unfortunate truth that many of our users are reluctant to downvote or review questions and answers critically. This is partly due to the subjective nature of much of our content (there is usually no correct answer, everyone feels qualified to weigh in) and partly out of a genuine intent to help people with their issue even if it's not a good fit for the site. [...]
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 15:56
  • Workplace is one of the few sites where we don't deal with relatively minor problems like coding projects, educational questions or trivia but where people come with situations that can and will affect their livelihood and significantly impact their future. Parenting is the only other site I know of and while I avoid it, the brief visits I've made gave me the impression that it has its own share of problems. And to clarify my initial sentence above: codification can't be done because SE relies on the community to decide. And while I agree that ours is too soft, I am only one voice.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 16:00
  • Nice answer. In reply to some of the comments, don't you guys think it will find it's own balance? Or has already found a sort of balance? It's the internet, we can't dictate what people do or how they do it.
    – Kilisi Mod
    Commented Apr 12, 2016 at 3:05

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