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As a relatively new user of this site, I have noticed a recurring pattern of questions being closed as off topic when they appear to be perfectly valid, and answerable questions. As it stands, when asking a question here I have absolutely no idea if it's going to be closed as being off-topic or not. I know the sorts of questions that are supposed to be off-topic, but I see so many posts that are closed as being off-topic for reasons that appear to be completely subjective.

I recently had a question moved to Personal Productivity. I don't feel this was appropriate as I don't have problems with being productive, I just had a problem with being burnt out in work and not knowing how to act appropriately. To be fair, the question is suitable for Personal Productivity but I think it's much more suitable for the workplace; as many people have this problem as well.

Regardless of this, there needs to be a much clearer divide between what is and isn't suitable for the Workplace. It's far too ambiguous for newer users. In fact, with the way the Workplace is currently, it should be renamed to Professionalism.

So, what I think on this is a question should only be closed if it:

  • Can't be answered
  • Is a legal advice question
  • Isn't related to the workplace
  • Other clearly measurable items
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  • To be honest, when I saw that question on the front page, with the [migrated] suffix, I initially thought it was migrated here from elsewhere. I will go out on a limb here and say that I don't agree with the migration. – Masked Man Jun 23 '17 at 16:29
  • However, rest of the post is practically unanswerable. While I admit that we are somewhat overzealous in putting questions on hold, getting into hypothetical discussions without specific examples doesn't get us anywhere. Our community members also spend quite a lot of effort trying to reopen questions, by making edits, creating meta posts, discussing in chatroom, and engaging with the OP to get more details. – Masked Man Jun 23 '17 at 16:30
  • "In fact, with the way the Workplace is currently, it should be renamed to Professionalism." I assume this was intended as sarcasm, as in "All you guys cover is stuff with a professionalism tag"? – Lilienthal Jun 23 '17 at 18:21
  • "Other clearly measurable items" Not sure I know what you mean here. – Lilienthal Jun 23 '17 at 18:22
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    I would encourage you to read thorough the on topic section of the help center. – enderland Jun 23 '17 at 21:23
  • @Lilienthal I don't intend it as sarcasm. I'm not great at getting my point across very well, so I apologize for that. I was pretty fried earlier too- tough week! However I feel that we are too critical of questions that are asked on this particular site. The current page for off-topic posts has a good description of what kind of questions should not be asked, yet it appears that a lot of questions which are closed as off-topic don't clearly and uniformly conform to these rules. This is where I think a bit of leniency should be served, as these questions are often relevant to many more people. – DCON Jun 23 '17 at 21:58
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    @DonnachaConnolly A fair point and I guess this is the place to debate it, but keep in mind that those close votes are all community-led. It's the users who decide what kind of questions can and can't be covered here. If 5 people with close vote rights say that something is unanswerable here (or should be edited to be on-topic or clearer) then that's a fairly clear sign that the question is at the very least problematic. – Lilienthal Jun 24 '17 at 11:40
  • As a general note since you're seemingly new to the network, you should know that voting works differently on meta. – Lilienthal Jun 24 '17 at 11:41
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Honestly, we get questions like this on meta regularly from new users. It takes some time and experience to get a sense for this site's culture and to realise what type of questions are useful and can be meaningfully answered. I'm aware that I'm certainly part of the site "establishment" by now and I realise that this may come across as the "veterans" being set in their ways and refusing to consider fresh new ideas, but I've seen it happen often enough that I can safely predict that you'll change your mind in a couple of weeks' time if you stick with the site. You're not the first and certainly won't be the last.

Regardless of this, there needs to be a much clearer divide between what is and isn't suitable for the Workplace. It's far too ambiguous for newer users.

We do welcome ways of improving the somewhat nebulous nature of the off-topic close reasons, but that's historically proven difficult given that we have to combine some close reasons and have limited room to work with. Have a look through the meta site for past threads on this topic.

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I'll offer a suggestion, which is that on the SE sites you should evaluate whether something is on or off topic regardless of the existence of other SE sites.

Sometimes I have a technical Ubuntu-related question that may be on topic (and have similar Qs) on Stack Overflow, Server Fault, Unix & Linux, and Ubuntu Hugs or whatever it's called. I'll ask it in whichever I think the best place is, and it works fine. No one closes them and says "well, that's ubuntu, you must go ask it at the smallest leaf node in the network." Depending on the scope of the question, it may be more or less effective to ask it on any of those.

If something's on topic for Workplace then it's on topic. If it would "fit better" somewhere else, feel free to suggest that to the OP, but that's not a valid close reason IMO. Keep in mind that those other sites may have a different opinion of their exact scope than you do (at RPG.SE we get questions migrated that we have to kick back regularly).

  1. If it's on topic, keep it open.
  2. If it's on topic but aligns well with another SE, mention it, but that's not grounds for closing it.
  3. If it's off topic, close it regardless of whether there's another relevant SE site or not. Offer a migration if there is. If there's not, let them eat forums.

That works for us well on RPG.SE.

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    The question wasn't closed as off-topic, it was simply migrated. The OP confused one issue with the other and tried to combine both in one meta post, which doesn't work very well. – Masked Man Jun 24 '17 at 20:20
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All social discussion is subjective by definition, anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to sell something. :-) Unfortunately, while a question you post may look perfectly good to YOU, the issue may look different to others who interpret it differently, and they get to decide what your post means, not you.

With that said, however, one of the depressing tactics in discussion is trying to suppress the opposition. There's some people on this forum who just like to shut down or move away what they don't like, rather than face it, and when you are new and have little authority and they have been here a while, they are going to win. Just be patient, keep coming back, and working away at it, and eventually you will be where they are.

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