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I understand Meta is the place to ask about specific questions, so here we go.

It is about the question "How can I engineer my own firing". This question seems to be well-written, on-topic, and the question asked is quite clear. However, OP is asking something unusual, without giving much context, and the question is getting downvoted.

I agree that the context provided by the question is a little bit unsettling and seems fishy, and maybe that's triggering the downvotes and some of the negative feedback in the comments. But it made me wonder : is the question bad just because the motives of the question (getting fired on purpose to get another job) are somewhat questionable ? Is this kind of question OK to ask on The Workplace ?


This question was submitted on 2016-05-03 07:52:53Z, closed as "too broad" on 2016-05-03 14:04:54Z and deleted on 2016-05-04 19:52:08Z.

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  • I don't even know. I'd certainly delete my answer now if I could. – Magisch May 3 '16 at 9:39
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    If someone wrote a question like "What's the best way to pretend to be at work, so I can instead go fool around with my girlfriend without my wife knowing?" - would that be on-topic? How about "What's the best way to steal office supplies?" Or "What the best way to cover up embezzlement at the office?" What flavor of questions do we want to encourage here? – Joe Strazzere May 3 '16 at 11:23
  • I agree that those questions do not feel right (embezzlement and theft are illegal though, but this is obviously not your point) and thus should not be asked, but that's my opinion. Furthermore, if that question should not be here, what can I do about it ? It is not actually against the rules, should I just downvote it ? Or is there a way I can flag it ? Should we be able to flag those sleazy questions ? – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 11:34
  • @JoeStrazzere in that case, Should we be able to flag questions for being plain unethical and illegal? Because that's what you're basically saying here. If that's case I'd wholeheartedly agree if you are. But other than being unethical I don't see the question committing any serious problems. – Migz May 3 '16 at 11:51
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    I think what @JoeStrazzere means is that the whole point of The Workplace is providing answers to people to help making their working lives better. Unethical questions are often not contributing to this goal, and do not correspond to the spirit of this SE. Again, I understand that such a question can follow the rules, but still be unwanted on The Workplace. What should we do about it then ? – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 11:58
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    I think the OP has found a perfect answer to his own question without knowing it... Being progressive in the work zone without alienating yourself – Philip Kendall May 3 '16 at 14:02
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    I just closed it (cast the 4th/5th votes). I am not sure what to do with it overall, but I can tell you that leaving it on the Hot Network Questions to accumulate even more flags? Not high on the "ways the question will be good" list. – enderland May 3 '16 at 14:08
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    I also deleted a fair bit of comments and at least one joke (I think?) answer. I'm not at all convinced this question is remotely appropriate since it is pretty clearly an XY problem at best and someone clearly trolling at worst. – enderland May 3 '16 at 14:15
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    Given the second question he asked, which is now gone, I am pretty sure he's trolling. Just wondering how he got such a high rep. – Old_Lamplighter May 3 '16 at 14:40
  • I am a bit disappointed because people focused on the question rather than on the idea of having on-topic content on SE which ethicality is questionable. I feel like people missed the point of my question, but it might be because I did not word it correctly. – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 14:44
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    @RichardU The poster doesn't really have any rep here - 100 association bonus for having rep elsewhere, and then ~75 rep for the question under discussion (upvotes being worth more than downvotes). I'm wondering how the question got 23 upvotes - did it hit the hot network questions list? – Philip Kendall May 3 '16 at 14:56
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    @PhilipKendall yes, it was on Hot Network Questions prior to being closed - this contributed to why I closed it, a controversial question such as this sticking on there is not a fun situation for anyone (except people who like to make joke comments when they see the link on the sidebar...). – enderland May 3 '16 at 15:00
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    @sheldonator: you might need to re-raise the question without reference to this one blatently bad example. – keshlam May 3 '16 at 15:27
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    @Kilisi Technically speaking, your answer was viable to do exactly what OP wanted – Magisch May 4 '16 at 6:47
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    @Kilisi I think more that this whole Q needs to go – Magisch May 4 '16 at 6:53
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The OP wrote:

Also, for anyone whose really interested, replace all my uses of the phrase "future employer" or "future prospective employer" with "wife", and suddenly, this whole question should make complete sense :-) well, to anyone whose married that is

My interpretation - the OP doesn't want to work there (or perhaps doesn't want to work at all), but his wife won't let him quit.

Thus, rather than being honest with his wife, he is trying to come up with a ruse whereby he is fired. That will get him wherever he wants to be, without having to admit to his wife that he "left" on his own.

This question is more suited to a marriage-counselling or relationship forum, rather than here.

I think it's completely off-topic, and I'd rather not encourage other wacky questions that use the words workplace, but are not relevant to anyone else.

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    I don't think its off topic, but I think its unsavory enough that we don't want or need it here. – Magisch May 3 '16 at 12:28
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    I interpret the question as being secretly about a divorce, not getting fired. As such, blatantly off topic (despite being disguised as on topic). – user45590 May 3 '16 at 13:53
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    I think until the OP makes the question squarely about the Workplace it cannot be on topic here. Given the refusal to answer actual questions that might make it on topic and address them in the post I find it hard to believe the OP is actually asking a real question. – enderland May 3 '16 at 14:17
  • Well you answered the "is this question OK" but I was hoping we'd go for a broader category, a generalization like you did in the comments. The flavor of questions route looked promising. – Konerak May 4 '16 at 6:32
  • I want to ask another question to generalize the scope of this one, but I don't know if it's OK. I feel like it's too late to edit this one though. – Sheldonator May 4 '16 at 7:29
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I think this type of question is fine. Generally speaking.

Asking a question like this is fine, but the way in which it is asked is really important. In fact, I think had this been asked in a less cryptic way it would have been a good question.

But the way it was asked failed a lot of "sanity" checks for me (and others):

  • OP won't answer most clarification questions
  • OP keeps making references to it being a divorce/breakup
  • OP only focuses on the solution (what's the problem causing this?)

A more reasonable question in the same general topic would be fine. Playing guess and check and "heheh this is a funny idea!" with the asker though? Meh. That sort of stuff belongs on reddit, not Stack Exchange.

The reason this is a problem is that the attitude of the asker translates to a lot of.... banter and discussion on a question. There is a reason the question has nearly 40 deleted comments and well into the double digits in flags. It's not because of the general content, but because of the attitude of the asker.

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Reasons why this question is not ok:

  1. This question is too specific. It will help just one person. I feel like no one else will learn how to get fired from this question
  2. User posting on the question is sticking on general rules when he feels to, but then makes up the rules when he feels to

Example:

Thanks @MarioTrucco but you are wrong. All StackExchange sites have specific rules they ask their community members to abide by when casting downvotes. If you read that link, nowhere does it say "Hey, feel free to downvote any question you want, just because you don't like it." Of course users are legally allowed to do whatever they want, but they would be doing so outside the scope of the community rules

When he got explained why people downvote on the question. Then I posted this snarky (I admit) comment:

@smeeb your last comment gave me idea: Keep behaving in the job exactly as you behave in these comments and it will get you fired easily

Which got this response:

I'm sorry you are annoyed and/or frustrated by my comments @PavelJanicek however I am just staying within the bounds of community rules. I am not being offensive to anyone at all. I am even upvoting other users every single time they solicit a possible solution. I corrected one user because he/she seemed to be uncertain about the community downvoting rules. And I flagged your initial comment for removal because I considered it to be "life coaching" and not relevant to the given problem at hand. I am also flagging your latest comment because, yet again, it is unconstructive.

I admit I did lose my temper there, but strictly speaking: Life coaching is not reason to flag a comment, which someone intending on the community rules should know

  1. Acceptance criteria are not known and depend on good will of the OP: We do not know all the details. OP refuses to tell all the details, but it seems that he keeps adding details on the go

Edit: It might be totally not workplace related question at all

From this comment:

Also, for anyone whose really interested, replace all my uses of the phrase "future employer" or "future prospective employer" with "wife", and suddenly, this whole question should make complete sense :-) well, to anyone whose married that is

you can also read: "I am interested in another girl, but it would be better if my current wife leaves me. How to do that?"

I know the above is speculation. But I am very convinced that the question is actually not about a job at all

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    2. This is about OP's behavior, and not the question, though. – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 8:59
  • True. My personal belief is however that if borderline question comes from bad behaving user, it gains more reasons to get closed. – Pavel Janicek May 3 '16 at 9:00
  • I edited the answer a lot, adding my other speculation – Pavel Janicek May 3 '16 at 9:34
  • Mmh... Being able to apply the question to another context does not mean the question is not on-topic, this sounds highly fallacious to me. Someone being harassed by his coworkers could ask a question (of course, this is probably a duplicate, this is not the point) about how to handle it, and you could say that it is not workplace related because you could replace "someone" by "some kid" and "coworkers" by "classmates" and it would still make sense. – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 9:38
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    I admit I am totally speculating here. But if you replace "future employer" with "family member" as OP suggests, then the real answer is: "Grow a pair and talk to your relatives about how do you hate your current job" – Pavel Janicek May 3 '16 at 9:41
  • I do not agree. You don't get fired from your family (... well, in a sense, you could, if it's about inheritance), and you don't get guaranteed offers to get into another family once you're fired from your current one. The contexts are completely different and can hardly be compared. – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 9:45
  • @Sheldonator: The wording of that comment ("whose really interested") makes it clear that this is not just another way to apply that question, but that this is the real thing behind it. – PlasmaHH May 3 '16 at 9:51
  • You seem to be right. I'll flag the question, then. My original question doesn't change though. I used this one because it seemed to illustrate my point, but it's still about correctly formulated on-topic questions with questionable (but legal) intent. – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 10:01
  • @Sheldonator, re #2, arguably the same attitude/behavior is found in the question itself in the note at the top. – user45590 May 3 '16 at 13:56
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I think we have a very skilled troll on our hands, at least I HOPE this person is trolling as the alternative is far too disturbing to contemplate.

He asked another bizarre one

https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/66385/being-progressive-in-the-work-zone-without-alienating-yourself

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    This is most likely a troll. – Sheldonator May 3 '16 at 14:04
  • @Sheldonator I certainly hope so – Old_Lamplighter May 3 '16 at 14:05
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    If he is a troll, he is not "very skilled" – DSKekaha May 3 '16 at 14:15
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    @DSKekaha this place has some pretty sharp people. He's managed to get serious answers. Skilled Troll – Old_Lamplighter May 3 '16 at 14:35
  • The question was utterly hilarious. Obviously a troll. I'm surprised as heck that anyone reading that would take it seriously for even one second. Sounds like something a really suicidal stand-up comedian would say. – AndreiROM May 3 '16 at 16:51
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    It would be really nice if people didn't feed obvious trolls like the now-deleted question linked in this answer. Flag (offensive if you think appropriate), vote to close, downvote, but if it's an obvious troll, then both comments and answers give the troll what he came for: entertainment at others' expense. Please don't help trolls get their jollies. – Monica Cellio May 3 '16 at 17:34
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    @MonicaCellio He fooled me at first, as he did a bunch of us, which is why I brought up that one in here. That's not helping them. – Old_Lamplighter May 3 '16 at 20:41
  • @RichardU yes, a lot of people took the earlier post (that this question is about) at face value. It was when I saw the one you linked that it became clear that we were being trolled. I'm not criticizing people who responded to the former. – Monica Cellio May 3 '16 at 20:45
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I think the question is fine. Is it unethical? absolutely! who in their right mind would want to help someone who's trying to get fired by intentionally doing things that his employer does not like?!

The answers were also quite unsettling. However despite that I think that @magisch still made some "ethical" suggestions :

•Be honest with your boss. A good boss does not want to have someone working for them that doesn't want to. He may even sympathize with the reason why you want to get fired and "play along"

•Train someone else (an intern or junior employee) to do your job. This may very well result in you being laid off because the other person is cheaper.

•Automate your work away. Making yourself redundant can even come with a nice bonus check for the effort in addition to being laid off.

Anything beyond this simply felt unethical and wrong to me. However if we come to the core. Is it a bad question that does not belong in the workplace? I'm leaning towards no.

Can the answers be re-used by other people? I believe so. If you want to get fired without blatantly being unethical/illegal. This is the question you're looking for.

Is it off-topic? I don't think it is. The question itself is about the working environment. Whether the answers will be used for different goals and ends is unrelated.

In the end, I'm not happy to have this question being asked. It leaves a weird after-taste. But I believe we should have the workplace with both the good AND the bad.

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You guys DO realise that there ARE perfectly legitimate reasons for wanting to get fired in a situation where you can't quit or sabotage your work.

Here's a scenario (hypothetical), my mum got me a job with one of her buddies. After some excellent work there I landed myself an offer elsewhere. I can't quit because it's mums friend, I can't sabotage my work, because my work is fairly critical stuff and I have no reason to be malicious, I just want out because it's not just work it's taking over my personal life as well and Aunty is trying to play matchmaker and stuff.

If I try and explain to Aunty XYX, she might cry and would definitely go to mum with it and I might even get smacked around a bit which isn't a good look at my advanced age, and the Church would hear about it (small community) Mum and Aunty Whatsit might have a rift in their longstanding friendship and there would be unpleasantness all around. Both ladies being elderly and emotional this could easily have medical consequences because everyone would blame everyone else.

But IF I could get myself fired, most of the blame would fall on me (who despite being quite old myself is just kid to them), I could apologise profusely to Aunty Thingy, and my mum would smooth things over so I still got a good reference, and after tears and self recriminations and wailing and all that drama that the oldies absolutely love. Everything would be serene, and I'd be in my new job focusing on my career.

.... just saying

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    That's not a workplace problem, that's a family and relationship problem. – David K May 5 '16 at 12:51
  • @JoeStrazzere no the repercussions might be too much as I explained – Kilisi May 5 '16 at 17:43
  • @DavidK nope the underlying issue is, but getting fired is workplace. Underlying issues for quitting are often personal issues anyway. In any case this is a possible explanation of a 'reason' for a question like that, rather than assume trolling. – Kilisi May 5 '16 at 17:46

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