The question "How to force someone to quit" recently showed up with possibly the largest number of down-votes for a question I've seen. Now it has been voted closed as off-topic because "Real questions have answers".

However, is it really off-topic? There is a clear question being asked, it is about the workplace, and it is does not have any legal or contractual connotations. There is more here than just a rant about why a situation is bad - there is a stated problem (perceived workplace stress), a proposed solution (quit for said person), and a question of how to achieve that. The only negative part is that the proposed solution is absolutely the wrong thing to do.

There is precedent for good answers instructing the OP not to do what they are asking (Is "don't foo the bar" an appropriate answer?). It seems the main reason it was put on hold was because of the bad idea being asked, and all of the down-votes. Personally, I partially regret being the first down-vote, as I fear I may have set off the stream that followed.

So, for discussion.

Is this question actually off-topic? Should it be reopened?

  • It's actually tied at the moment.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 6:32
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    @Lilienthal not anymore. Out of curiosity, if David K gets the 20 votes needed to get the Reversal Badge, and then the question gets deleted. does he keep the badge?
    – Anketam
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 10:12
  • @Anketam Signs point to yes, though it means you won't earn another reversal badge if you qualify as the system considers you have "one more than you should".
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 10:27
  • 2
    Actually, it is not about the workplace, it is about family relationships. The title really should be "How can I get a family member fired?"
    – tomjedrz
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 21:36
  • @Anketam Yes, you keep badges earned for deleted content. Commented Jun 29, 2016 at 17:48

3 Answers 3


Is this question actually off-topic?

Yes, but it should have had a custom close reason. None of the standard close reasons fit why the question doesn't belong on this site, but as you've commented yourself, there are plenty of problems with the question.

The main ones are:

  • it's about intentionally sabotaging someone's employment: while perhaps not illegal, it's grounds for lawsuits in most countries. It's also vastly unethical
  • even if the question wasn't that unethical, it's asking for strategies to act on a family member's behalf in a workplace, which is completely unprofessional and counter to all workplace norms
  • it's an XY problem: A is depressed so B thinks A should lose his job to fix that. Yeah. No.
  • it's badly written

Alongside downvotes, close votes enable us to decide as a community what type of questions we want to see on this site. For the most part they're used to distinguish questions that can be answered from those that belong on a forum or angry blog. In this case they have correctly been used to identify a question that does not belong on this site and probably should not be answered.

Should it be reopened?

No. It should be deleted.

  • Arguably, the question itself violates the "be nice" policy, even it it wants to be rude to someone not p present. I really see no value to the community or future readers in saying much more than "stupid idea, find another way to resolve your issue"... and it isn't clear that has enough value to be worth retaining. If the x/y was unwrapped so we could discuss how to solve the real issue, that might be a different kettle of worms.
    – keshlam
    Commented Jun 22, 2016 at 18:36
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    @keshlam Pretty much. While "be nice" only applies to on-site interaction and we don't actually have a "don't be an ass IRL" policy, I think the site community should be able to use the tools they have to identify questions that do not fit the spirit of the site. Professionalism, respect and sane management are a big part of our site identity.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 8:03

Disclaimer: This is from my experience as a mod here and does not reflect my role as an employee

The title of the question is deceptive. If someone were to ask this question as a manager in Japan (where it is notoriously difficult to fire a salaried employee), I think it would be on-topic.

The reason I think this is off-topic is because of what I think the appropriate answer to the question would be. Any appropriate answer, I think, would discuss alternatives to getting the person fired from finding them ways to get counseling, to looking at things like the Family Medical Leave Act which may allow them to retain employment while taking time off to sort this stuff out.

I disagree with Lilienthal that the following has any relevance to the on-topicness of a question here:

  • 1
    I brought up the language as a last point because I considered it the proverbial nail in the coffin. I'm happy to edit poorly written questions that have value or where the OP struggled with a foreign language. I'm happy to work with an OP to salvage a question that they obviously put effort into. I'm typically not prepared to spend that kind of time on off-topic questions where the OP basically vomited his thought on the screen and walked away.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 8:05
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    As for the first two points, this site's main focus is about professionalism in a workplace, which involves an ethical component. Sure, we could answer "don't do this" in a million different ways but that's only harvesting cheap rep, as we so often see with 2-sentence answers to "inappropriate" questions. Answers should match the question being asked so if you wanted to answer "Here's why you shouldn't do X" then the question should be "Should I try to get my friend to lose his job?" not "How do I make my friend lose his job?".
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 8:09
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    The question should either have been edited right away to something answerable or it should have been closed. I'm frankly baffled that it's now on 3 reopen votes with no one taking the time to edit the question if they consider it valid. If it does get reopened in its current state it will likely be closed again shortly after.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Jun 23, 2016 at 8:10

From what I see this question fails the most basic premise of this SE. It is not about navigating the workplace.

This person is looking for advice on how to get an employee removed when they are not a part of the company. They are not looking to interact with co-workers, managers, subordinates, clients, or contractors. They are not an member of the organization they are looking to affect so this is not a workplace problem. In my mind interactions with clients, contractors, or volunteers are a kind of grey zone in this regard but her only connection is that she is married to someone who works there.

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