There have been a few questions recently where the problem faced by the OP

  • has little-to-nothing to do with the workplace
  • is about some common social convention

I realize some people do struggle with social conventions, but, at least for the question that triggered this Meta post, the situation seems common enough that people with social issues would've read up on it on some guide, which they surely must've perused at some point in their lifetime.

The question I have in mind is: Boss send a happy birthday message. How to reply?, where the OP asks how to tone his reply to his boss' birthday wish.

I'm not questioning whether that question is currently on-topic (no one has voted to close yet), but the one-liner answer seems to agree with my assessment of it as too trivial.

There used to be an Etiquette proposal where this would've been on topic, but that's long gone by now.

Addressing the possible duplicate vote: I don't consider the linked question a joke, nor do I like the attitude of the other Meta post, and I don't believe I'm duplicating any of that, thank you. I identified two common traits and proposed solution, whereas the other post is basically "kek". The closest Meta post I (just now) found is this thread, where a "possible duplicate" argument might be made.

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of Some questions surely must be a joke
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 14:50
  • 3
    If you look at the upvotes for the answers to this question (and other trivial questions and answers), the only conclusion is that no question is too trivial for The Workplace. Just vote - no need for closing the question based on triviality. Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 16:15
  • I see lot of questions like this about how reacting to some social interaction with coworkers/boss. I'd say it's because we're often more concerned about how to behave daily with near coworker (+boos + customer) than with the rest of the workplace.
    – Walfrat
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 8:12
  • 4
    @JoeStrazzere I'd say the only conclusion is that such trivial questions are dramatically more likely to reach HNQ and are the reason why this site is often considered a laughing stock among most sister sites. While I suppose that most such questions should be accepted under the typical SE guidelines, that state that there usually aren't any questions that are "too easy", I'm not happy that these get so much exposure here.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 13:48
  • 1
    @Lilienthal - You may be right. I don't pretend to understand the choices or algorithms that put things on the HNQ. Many of them seem silly to me, but perhaps that's an attribute that is favored. I guess I won't be surprised to see questions like "What phrase should I use when I answer the phone?" or "How should I greet the receptionist each day?" I'm no longer surprised to see the flood of questions fitting the pattern "How do I deal with a coworker who does [something I don't like]?" There are many good things about The Workplace, but some not so good things too. So it goes. Commented Nov 10, 2016 at 14:40
  • 1
    see also: Word for someone who pretends not to know the answer to a simple question :)
    – gnat
    Commented Nov 11, 2016 at 20:51
  • 4
    Possible duplicate of No such thing as a stupid question
    – David K
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 13:26

4 Answers 4


If it's something that concerned the OP enough to ask, then it's a non-trivial problem worthy of an answer.

Everything is "trivial" once you know it, but everyone's gotta learn it somewhere; That they can learn it here is the whole point of SE. The more questions the Workplace has useful answers to, the better it is for this site and for its' users.

  • is about some common social convention

The entire workplace is based on common social convention's. I could (I won't) make an valid Argument to Close every question, based on some common social convention.

Lots of questions we have are "small" that doesnt mean we should show someone the door, because of it.

  • 2
    +1 and jobs have been made and lost over things that at first blush would seem trivial. Commented Nov 9, 2016 at 14:39

On some Stacks, there is an expectation that the asker will make at least some effort to research the question themselves and only ask SE if they couldn't find a usable answer that way. In those, any question that could be answered with "google it for yourself" or that can't answer "what have you tried so far" is indeed considered too trivial to spend effort on unless someone is particularly interested.

I think there are cases where that legitimately applies here too. If it isn't important enough to research before asking, why should it be important enough for others to spend time answering?

Yes, there are questions that really can't be researched. Yes, SE is inherently biased toward having answers posted here rather than citing answers elsewhere. Still...

  • 1
    Usually those questions are downvoted, not closed. It will be less common on a site like this than SO.
    – user42272
    Commented Nov 18, 2016 at 22:45

To actually answer regardless of whether you think there is such a thing as a question that's too trivial, each site only has a very limited number of custom close reasons and there is simply no room for any new ones.

Even if there was, this comes up way too rarely to justify a pre-written close reason.

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