“Advice on what to do” close reason is over-broad

Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?"). Questions should get answers explaining why and how to make a decision, not advice on what to do. For more information, click here.

About a year ago a change was proposed to the "Advice on what to do" close reason. It was fairly well received, and the general consensus was that a new wording made sense. The biggest argument is that every question is essentially asking "what to do". Often times I see questions that clearly state the problem and the desired outcome but conclude with "What do I do [to achieve what I have just explained]?" These questions almost always get a few close votes just for having that specific wording at the end, even though they meet our community standards.

The new wording, in my opinion, should focus more on the aspect of making a personal career decision, such as whether to quit, which job to take, which degree to pursue, etc. It's the questions that can only be answered by people who know the asker personally.

I don't know that we necessarily need to go through the whole process of choosing new wording again, as that was already done in the previous question, but can we confirm that we want/need a new wording and make sure action is taken on it?

2 Answers 2


Questions asking for the community to make a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are off-topic. Also questions that present a scenario and then ask the community to choose a course of action to take are off-topic. For more information see here.

I modified the highest voted answer to the original question slightly as the it lacked the explicit prohibition of here is my problem tell me what to do questions. I think this wording is softer and more clear what questions we are trying to avoid.

Because of the length constraint I removed the suggestions for better question. Instead I suggest editing the Dont Ask Help page to include a section on making a choice where we can help them improve the way they asked the question.

  • 1
    I like the sentiment, but this text is too long by 120 characters not including the link. It'll need to be tightened up. Aug 12, 2016 at 3:51
  • @MonicaCellio - Updated Aug 12, 2016 at 17:59
  • Do you think it would be better to link to the specific meta post about this close reason? That would also need to be updated to match the changes.
    – David K
    Aug 12, 2016 at 19:07
  • @David K I am open to putting the link elsewhere if someone has a better suggestion Aug 12, 2016 at 20:51
  • 1
    Linking to the specific meta post is a good idea; thanks. (When we update the reason we need to remember to update the quoted text in that post, too.) Aug 12, 2016 at 20:56
  • 2
    I like this answer, the word "advice" has stuck in my craw for some time, as that is EXACTLY what we are doing, giving advice. I think Chad's rewording is a good one Aug 24, 2016 at 13:43

Questions should be about helping you to come to a decision, to accomplish a certain goal or to identify professional behaviour in generic situations. We can't tell you what you should do in your exact situation because it's unlikely to help anyone else and so much depends on your particular situation and your priorities. Don't ask "What can I do?" but ask "How can I achieve X in situation Y?" or "What are my options for doing X?". Just like this site isn't the place for advice that only covers your specific situation, we can't provide career advice or tell you what skills you should learn.

I feel like this might be too long at 606 characters compared to the company-specific close reason's 341. I can't find any guidelines or hard limits on the length on meta but all the other sites I've checked had close reasons under 400 characters, though those benefit from having much more technical domains. I think this can be distilled further but I think this is a good starting point and encompasses what this close reason is about.

Part of the problem with the lack of clarity in our close reasons is the subjective nature of the site. I think examples like the ones I used here would help clarify the point more than descriptions can.

I'd also consider having something like:

Don't ask "What would you do?"

As that's a very common component in the type of questions we close for this reason.

  • Thanks for taking a try at this. I don't see any public documentation of this, but I just tested and the limit is in fact 400 characters. Our other custom reasons have links to meta posts for more info, so maybe you can think about how you'd divide up this info. Feel free to propose some meta text to go along with a shorter close reason. Aug 26, 2016 at 3:14
  • Makes sense, thanks for checking @MonicaCellio.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Aug 26, 2016 at 6:05
  • I think the last sentence essentially repeats what has been said before. You could consider trimming down that sentence or the earlier sentences.
    – Masked Man
    Aug 26, 2016 at 17:12

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