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I can't help feeling that some of the questions on the site are opportunities to offload to a listening pair of ears (or thousands of pairs of ears as the case may be). I'm thinking in particular of this question:

Should I take leave before office function?

As Oded says in his comments, and I do in my answer, this is a purely personal decision. Yes, the OP has a dilemma, but there is no right answer. It is possible IMHO to offer constructive answers, in terms of how to frame the internal debate, but not possible to offer definitive decisions. Should this be off topic? Should there be a tag like "personal dilemma" that we slap on these? Some of us quite enjoy answering this sort of question, so this could be a constructive thing (unlike the "homework" tag on StackOverflow for instance...). Is there a phrase for this that translates well into the cultures of all this site's users?

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    I think that if the question is cleaned up and changed to a "How should I decide?" instead of a "What should I decide"/"Decide for me"/"How will this reflect on me", it is salvageable. – Oded Sep 3 '12 at 12:42
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    This question is getting linked a lot on main, so I've edited it to be a little more suitable for that purpose. When a new user's first encounter with the post (or our meta at all) is the original title of this question, it doesn't always leave a good impression. It made sense at the time, back in 2012, when probably nobody thought it'd be widely referenced. – Monica Cellio Apr 18 '14 at 22:28
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I don't really think the tag is appropriate as it would pretty clearly be a Meta tag as means different things to different people and it's useless as the only tag on a question; it doesn't actually tell you anything about the domain of the question. Further, the only real information you can glean from the tag is "this is probably too localized to this person's exact personal situation".

I'm familiar with the sort of questions you're referring to (ones that solicit general advice and not specific or constructive answers). These questions at best need cleanup, or at worst are unanswerable.

Why not just answer them and move on? The more we allow personal questions relevant to only a single-person the more it's going to be expected that we allow more of them. A big reason Salary and "which job is most coolest" questions are laid out as Off Topic in our FAQ is really because the answer is up to the specific person (at a specific time and specific place to boot).

In addition, reputation earned from dubious questions like that often says little about the actual value of the answer; once upvotes mean "Yeah, I agree with this!" they've lost meaning. Personal advice questions almost always trend into this territory as answers aren't focused. Another problem is these questions often solicit general advice meaning two people could give completely different answers solving different aspects of the problem; it's just not a fair playing ground when there's no clearly defined problem beyond "I hate my job" "Should I quit" etc.

Answers here aren't just for one person; we're not a help forum. Answers here should be for everyone in a similar situation. If you have to give advice that may only help a single person, you're probably wasting your time (and all reader's time to boot), instead questions like this should be closed with the appropriate close reason. This is often Too Localized (if it's a personal situation must be answered once for each individual person) or Not Constructive (soliciting general advice or opinions on a matter).

  • I agree these should be closed. We are not an advice column. If people enjoy answering such off-topic questions, though, perhaps that's a use for our blog. – Monica Cellio Sep 4 '12 at 14:23
  • It may be worth adding something in the FAQ here with examples of the questions which ARE quite localized, because I have a feeling these sorts of questions are going to be asked on here a LOT. – enderland Sep 6 '12 at 18:14
  • @enderland I'm trying to keep the FAQ from growing too huge, but something clarifying what a general "advice" request is (and why it's not acceptable here) might be worth it. I've closed a fair number of these – Rarity Sep 6 '12 at 19:08
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I'd say avoid a tag like this. I agree that we have a trend that we need to change that has the effect of highly specialized problems that are not widely applicable and come perilously close to be whiny or sob stories.

I loath closing a question if there's any way I can resuscitate it with an answer. :) But even I would be willing to see our closure rate increase on these - we're not the Agony Aunt and if we become that, we will loose our focus and our target audience.

My approach may not be other people's but I'd consider upping our process as follows:

  1. Review the question to see if it can be reworded or if the author can be induced to make the answer more applicable.
  2. Increase our closure metric.

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