I was looking at this question today and a couple of people have commented that they are voting to close the question for a couple of different reasons, one of which was:

because it is asking for a product recommendation

Agreeing with this, I went to flag the question myself, but couldn't actually find a path through the flagging menu which represented either of the above reasons.

I cannot find any flag option to request this question to be closed which refers to asking for product recommendations. Are questions asking for (workplace related) product recommendations actually off-topic for this site and if so, where is this stated?

The other reason given was:

this isn't a workplace question

which I found a little bit more difficult to understand. I checked the site description on the Tour page:

The Workplace Stack Exchange is a question and answer site about the workplace and other career-related topics. It is for members of the workforce to get answers on topics such as the job hunting process, interviewing, salary negotiation, and professionalism within the Workplace.

Now, reading this brief summary, it does sound like this question is off-topic, so if this is the case, what reason should be used when flagging it for closure? I considered "Blatantly off-topic (this question has nothing to do with the workplace)", but is this really the case? The OP is certainly asking a question about the workplace as I understand it, as that's where the product they're looking for would be used. It's not like they're asking "Can someone recommend a soccer ball?", which would seem blatantly off topic and nothing to do with the workplace.

So, is it right that this question should be flagged for closure and if so, under what particular reason?

  • Do you not have the "Flag > Should be closed > Off-topic > Other" path? That allows you to give a custom reason. There is also a "blatantly off-topic" option in the same menu. Or at least there used to be, I don't see it now but that could be a permissions issue.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Jan 30, 2017 at 7:23

3 Answers 3


Note: In this answer, I am quoting parts of the question and responding to them, so "you" refers to OP of the main question, not of the meta question.

No matter how we spin it, the present version of the question is not suitable for the workplace. If it cannot be closed as asking for product recommendation, I would vote to close it as unclear what you're asking.

I want to get a mat to stand on

Why do you need a mat? What is the problem you are facing in the absence of a mat? Does anyone else in the workplace see this as a problem?

if I had one under my desk i'd have to move it every time I wanted to sit in my chair.

Again, why? Why can't you get a bigger mat over which you can both keep a chair and push it slightly aside when you want to stand?

Are there standing desk mats that wheeled office chairs can roll over or work with?

Yes, there are perhaps, or maybe there are not. If that is your real question, it is clearly off-topic, because we don't do product research.

But clearly, what you are actually asking for is the final sentence:

Is there a solution to this problem?

Until we know what your problem is, we cannot know if there is a solution. In addition to the bigger mat solution I mentioned above, there is another solution that works for me: "Forget the mat, just stand on the floor." Other people perhaps have other "solutions", we cannot know if any of the solutions will work for you, because we don't know your problem.

If the OP clarifies these points, I will vote to reopen it.

  • Do you really think it's not clear what the OP of the linked question is asking? It's perfectly clear to me, but perhaps I'm reading between the lines. You say "we don't do product research" a where is this stated on the site, or is it just something that's come up before and there is an understanding that questions seeking product recommendations are off topic? Even if the product is definitely workplace related?
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 30, 2016 at 23:05
  • Because it's already clear to me, so I wasn't aware that it wasn't clear to others and therefore required an edit. I'll give it an edit tomorrow when I get a chance if this will be helpful.
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 31, 2016 at 1:06
  • I'll be honest, it feels like you're being deliberately obtuse, but I'm new to The Workplace site, so perhaps this is just the vibe here - I'll go ahead and submit an edit suggestion when I can get to a computer today, hopefully it might be acceptable to the community and the OP can get an answer to their question which others in the future might find helpful.
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 31, 2016 at 9:39
  • ok, sorry if I've offended you somehow, I was just trying to improve my understanding of the rules and conventions of a new SE site I'm interested in contributing to, while perhaps simultaneously helping a question poster get an answer.
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 31, 2016 at 18:07
  • I gave up on contributing to The Workplace a long time ago, mainly because of members such as yourself, so there's really no point in continuing your petty bump campaign on this thread.
    – 3N1GM4
    Mar 31, 2017 at 12:36

Product-recommendation questions aren't automatically off-topic. Further, ergonomics questions are on-topic, and we even have a tag for them. We've had questions about arranging desks in tight spaces, about various computer issues like placing monitors, about shared lighting, about heating and cooling, even about kitchen cleanliness. Further further, the core question here is "how do I solve this problem"; it's not just asking "what should I order from Amazon?".

To be on-topic a question must arise from the workplace. That doesn't just mean stuff like resumes and dealing with bad managers; it also means some stuff about the physical environment in which you spend all those hours.

I don't see the problem here.

  • I will question the use of ergonomics tag on the question. OP needs a mat that a chair can be rolled over, where is ergonomics involved? I want a floor mat over which I can place a coffee table and a sofa in the visitors lobby of my office, is that on topic too?
    – Masked Man
    Dec 29, 2016 at 18:16
  • 1
    @MaskedMan I applied the ergonomics tag; as a migration the question needed to be tagged and I'll admit I don't know our tag set all that well, so I reached for one I knew. I inferred ergonomics from the standing desk and the resulting need to do something to take the pressure off the feet. Maybe the OP will clarify. Dec 29, 2016 at 18:20
  • -1 for the first sentence. Product recommendations are explicitly off-topic on nearly all SE sites including this one. Ergonomics questions enjoy a slight majority approval on the site but many users disagree with the meta consensus on it, so it makes sense that less qualitative questions are closed or downvoted. A simple change to "What type of mat should I look for?" to make it clear that OP isn't asking about specific product recommendations might be enough to get this reopened.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Jan 30, 2017 at 7:21
  • @Lilienthal did you see the edit I made to the question (on Dec 27)? Since that was before the closure and this meta question, I assumed people were taking that version as the baseline here. Jan 30, 2017 at 13:41
  • @MonicaCellio That's the version I was looking at but it's still awfully close to asking to recommend specific products: "are there any?" > "this is one", "try Product X", "try brand Y". I'd expect to see something like "What type of X should I look for?" to make it clear that it's about a class or type of products rather than recommending the best product based on opinion.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Jan 30, 2017 at 13:57
  • 1
    @Lilienthal ah, I see. I thought my wording did that, but it could stand to be more clear. Thanks. Jan 30, 2017 at 14:00

I believe the confusion here has very little to do with the question linked, but it is rather just about the flashing options seen.

I believe certain VTC options simply allow you to type a custom close reason message.

  • Appreciate your view on using the custom VTC reason if wanting to close the question - would you care to venture an answer to whether the question should be closed or not, and why? My question is only partly about which VTC reason should be used if the question should be closed, the other part is about how not can be determined whether the question should be closed at all.
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 30, 2016 at 23:02
  • I do tend to think product recommendations are a bad fit for stack exchange, simply because they can not typically be definitely answered and usually attract various opinions instead of consensus.
    – user30031
    Dec 30, 2016 at 23:24
  • I would tend to agree, but it seems in this case the asker is wanting to find out if there even is a class of products which fit his requirements, rather than necessarily a specific individual product recommendation.
    – 3N1GM4
    Dec 30, 2016 at 23:27
  • 1
    @3N1GM4 Uh, yes, there is a class of products. It is called floor mats. OP is already using one, he just needs to buy a bigger one or ask his employer to cover the entire floor with mats. Which is why I asked if other workers see the need for floor mats. Still not clear what the OP is asking for, when he already knows the "class of products" that solve his problem. He could as well just stand on the floor, not clear why he cannot do that either.
    – Masked Man
    Dec 31, 2016 at 1:12

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