There are plenty of [on hold] or deleted questions on here which I feel that we could at least ATTEMPT to give an answer to.

Who CARES if the question doesn't exactly fit the workplace "rules", if there isn't another StackExchange which would better suit the question, and it isn't totally unrelated, why vote to close?

Here is one example.

13 year career change

If someone is switching careers, and wants to know how to transition, surely that is something we could answer? Transitioning careers is 100% a workplace question.

You might be saying "Oh well it is too specific, so we can't help you transition from X career to Y career", and you would be right. We can't help a person understand what they need to study to become a developer, painter, or plumber.

What we can do is generalize the question, taking away the specifics. Instead of looking at the specifics, couldn't we generalize the question to "How can I transition to a new career after 15 years?"

I really feel that instead of just voting to close, we could help of lot of people with general advice pertaining to specific questions. It takes about the same amount of effort to edit a question as it does to flag it.

I am not trying to focus on "what is off/on-topic", but rather what we can do to encourage users to try and edit/fix a question, rather than just voting to close (assuming they have the time)

another not so great example, but you get the point Good entry level job

  • 2
    Have you gone through the help center? Have you read the dozens of previous meta questions on this topic?
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 11, 2016 at 18:21
  • @Lilienthal I am not trying to focus on "what is off/on-topic", but rather what we can do to encourage users to try and edit/fix a question, rather than just voting to close (assuming they have the time).
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 12, 2016 at 22:04
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    That's not what your question first said and what the body still says tells me that you have the wrong idea about SE's goals. And all this is mentioned in the previous topics as this comes up every few months. Almost invariable the "problem" is identified by a new user who hasn't yet seen how our community works and what makes for good and answerable questions. Remember: we are not an advice column, despite significant overlap. The end goal is to have a repository of good and on-topic questions with high quality answers.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 9:43
  • @Lilienthal Can we make that more apparent to those who ask questions then? I can guarantee that I am not the only one confused on to how exactly the site works (being less of an advice site and more of a quality question repository). It makes no sense to tackle the problem by having people vote to close 1/3 of all the questions asked. Instead, why not at least try and fix the root of the problem, which is people asking questions that we "can't" answer on this site.
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 13, 2016 at 16:44
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    "is people asking questions that we "can't" answer on this site" If you figure out how to solve that problem do let me know. The vast majority of such questions are from users who don't read the help, don't check the info that pop ups on the question submission screen, don't check previous questions and most of them never interact with the site again. Our close rate is so high because we attract a non-technical audience that has never heard of SE and are inexperienced with online platforms. Beyond guiding new users there's not much we can do.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 20:54
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    @Lilienthal Thanks for your insight. Glad we could have a respectful discussion even though this topic appears to be a recurring annoyance.
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 13, 2016 at 22:03
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    Of course, that's what meta is for. Even if it comes up regularly most of the community doesn't mind it as it forces us to reflect on how we treat newcomers. And the people who raise these issues on meta often turn into good contributors or can help new people with editing their questions to match the topics we cover.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Dec 13, 2016 at 22:31
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    I would note that the question is still career advice which is something that is specifically off topic here. Dec 14, 2016 at 15:58

6 Answers 6


couldn't we generalize the question to "How can I transition to a new career after 15 years?"

Absolutely, but it does require an edit that someone has to make.

Any user can suggest an edit to the question and make it more general. That can be you or anyone on the site.

  • To expand on this; if a question can be saved then one shouldn't expect anyone but themselves to make the effort to do so. The Workplace gets so traffic that questions must prove their value and not their potential.
    – user30031
    Dec 10, 2016 at 1:06
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    Further, putting a fixable question, but one that still requires an edit, on hold is the correct thing to do. Fix the question and then reopen it. This way people don't invest in answers based on guesses that turn out to be wrong. Dec 10, 2016 at 23:04
  • @enderland Right, and the main problem I am seeing is that I get to a post that definitely could be edited (as I have done myself), and notice that 3 or more people have already voted to close without even an attempt to edit the question. This is my main complaint. There seem to be people who get a kick out of finding slightly off-topic questions and immediately voting to close.
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 12, 2016 at 15:52
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    @Prodnegel Please read Monica's comment above you. If a question is currently off-topic, it should be closed and then edited to fix it. If the community agrees that the question has been fixed, it can then be reopened. This is a core feature of the entire Stack Exchange network: "What is a “closed” or “on hold” question?"
    – David K
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:15
  • @DavidK Please use some inference. If I noticed that people were closing AND editing to fix, I wouldn't have a problem. The problem I am having is with people who simply vote to close WITHOUT returning to edit to fix it. Might I add that you too seem to be borderline obsessed with the "rules" and gloss over the opportunity to actually help someone, which is the actual core feature of the entire Stack Exchange network.
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 12, 2016 at 20:49
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    @Prodnegel Fixing a question to make it on-topic requires careful thought to make sure that all of the problems are addressed so it will get the reopen votes it deserves. It's easy to see when something is off-topic and vote to close, but we don't always have the time and energy it takes to fix it, especially when the question is not easily salvageable (like both question you link). If you see a question you think is a candidate to be edited and reopened, then do it.
    – David K
    Dec 12, 2016 at 21:03
  • @DavidK Okay, well my point still stands. I am seeing some of the Workplace's top posters simply vote to close instead of taking the extra 2 or 3 minutes to edit it. I know these people have the extra 2 or 3 minutes because they seem to answer almost every question out there, regardless of the quality of their answer. I guess this goes back to one of my earlier points being that there are a handful of posters who only care about the shiny badges and rep score, and very rarely even attempt to edit/fix the question (given they have the time).
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 12, 2016 at 22:00
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    @DavidK I just want to help these people asking questions, really do not mean to criticize other users on this site.
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 12, 2016 at 22:01
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    @Prodnegel You say you don't mean to criticize, yet you accuse high rep users of only caring about the badges and the reputation. The top posters here have been around a while and have a lot of experience assessing the value of poorly-formed questions. Not every question is worth saving.
    – David K
    Dec 13, 2016 at 13:44
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    Everyone will have a different opinion on which questions are worthwhile or not. You are allowed to disagree. But if you think a question is worth fixing when others do not, then edit it yourself and try to get it reopened. You cannot ask us to try and save questions we don't think are worthwhile, just as we cannot ask you to close questions you think are worthwhile. This is a community run site, and you are as much a part of the community as any of us.
    – David K
    Dec 13, 2016 at 13:47

This is a great example as it's exactly what I would vote to close as it's :

  • very specific to the poster, both in terms of circumstances and mentions technologies
  • does little other than ask "what do I do?"

A good question will talk about the poster's circumstances in a way that resonates with others. It also avoids being locale specific (if not relevant) and not techie (it's easy to forget with SO etc that this is a wider community on workplace)

The poster should also show they have either tried to resolve it, or at least have a strategy and want to know if it's good. We can then either back up or make counter arguments and people can vote for the best advice.

Just asking what to do is bad, they'll probably get something back that likely unhelpful.

So this is why it's closed, but the poster (or anyone with sufficient rep) can take the advice, change it to be on topic and we will be happy to vote and reopen if it is now helpful.

  • 1
    I guess my main complaint is that there are far more people who immediately vote to close instead of thinking if there is a way to rephrase the question to make it better and answerable.
    – Prodnegel
    Dec 12, 2016 at 15:53

Just like there is a vote to close, there is also a vote to reopen. So if you don't like that a question was closed, simply make an edit to improve it, and request to reopen it on meta, some of us will cast the required reopen votes.


Why don't more people try to edit/fix questions rather than just voting to close?

I agree with the basic thoughts behind your overall question. I've long thought that there is far too much closing of questions. I've argued that we would be better served to let almost all questions stand rather than closing them for any reason.

But to answer what you are asking in the title

  • It's a lot easier to vote than to edit
  • Edits aren't always appreciated by the OP
  • This isn't Wikipedia. The site doesn't emphasize correctness/thoroughness as much as it emphasizes gamification
  • This isn't Wikipedia. The site doesn't emphasize correctness/thoroughness as much as it emphasizes gamification this is sadly true despite the stated goal of being otherwise. Dec 14, 2016 at 16:00
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    @IDrinkandIKnowThings - I truly believe actions speak louder than words. And the way the site is constructed/administered/monitored doesn't always align with anyone's stated goals. It's still a terrific site. But I don't expect they truly strive to be Wikipedia. That's not so sad. Dec 14, 2016 at 16:54

Career advice is specifically off topic.

Basically this question is asking what skills should they learn and jobs should they take to move into a new career. These are specifically off topic. Partly because there is no one path that works for everyone, and partly because it invites discussion and controversy about what the right skills for a position are.

Take the example of a Web developer. There is a very passionate group that think that PHP is the only path worth pursuing, then there are people that are MS Stack proponents and Python, and Ruby, and probably still some Perl die hards. None of them are wrong and none of them are right. We seek to provide correct answers and here the only possible answer is a guess at what would be best for the OP.


I agree with your general point, but that specific question is too broad.

It's so broad that "strangers on the Internet" won't be able to answer it.

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