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Client wants to reduce hourly rate at the start of a new project

The gist of it has to do solely with billing rate and hours. It's even tagged "freelancing".

I see nothing here that has to do with "navigating the workplace".

Even after the "Academia" question here, I still don't understand why this is on-topic and wasn't moved.

Because it's software-related and most folks here work with software?

Would it have been answered if an independent plumber was concerned about billing a client? A landscaper? An actor?

Would most of the questions on freelancing.stackexchange.com be considered on-topic here as well?

Help me understand, please.

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Honestly I disagree on this with Lilienthal.

I think that I would have migrated this had I seen it before it got ton of answers here for the reasons you are suggesting.

However... now? I'm not sure what to do.

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    Seems like it boils down to "Does every question become on-topic if it gets (some or a ton of) answers?" And if it's "Yes", then what kind of guidance can we possibly give people other than "Just post whatever you want and hope that it gets some answers and thus remains in place." I don't have a good answer to all of this, it's just confusing. – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '17 at 16:36
  • To make matters worse (or better, depending on how you want to look at it), OP has now placed a bounty for an exemplary answer. I wonder what happens to the bounty if the question is migrated now. – Masked Man Jul 18 '17 at 16:43
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    @MaskedMan-仮面の男 as far as I know moderator can drop the bounty off the question (and they also can pick whether to refund it back to bounty giver or not) – gnat Jul 18 '17 at 17:10
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The gist of it has to do solely with billing rate and hours.

Sure, but it's not "what rate should I set?". That's generally off-topic as per the help center and we usually point those people to "How can I determine a reasonable salary to ask for?"

It's even tagged "freelancing".

Of course, that's what it's about. We also have legal and software-industry tags.

I see nothing here that has to do with "navigating the workplace".

Contract negotiations and communication with clients about expectations or business agreements have traditionally been considered on-topic here under the "Finding and maintaining employment" topics mentioned in the help center. We do tend to avoid going too specific into the details of freelancing arrangements. I would probably redirect a question like "What is the best system for billing my clients?" to Freelancing even if it could perhaps be considered on-topic.

I still don't understand why this is on-topic...

Because it didn't get a single close vote. That's a pretty strong indicator that the community considered it on-topic.

...and wasn't moved.

While I can't speak for the rest of the team, I'd never migrate a question that wasn't closed or that I wouldn't feel comfortable mod-closing.

Would it have been answered if an independent plumber was concerned about billing a client? A landscaper? An actor?

I want to say "sure, why not", but it's true that this kind of contract work doesn't come up here often and I would expect to see close votes because it's outside most users' area of expertise. But at the core if the question is "I agreed to do X for Y$ and the client is now offering me only Y/2", it doesn't really matter what X is.

Would most of the questions on freelancing.stackexchange.com be considered on-topic here as well?

Probably. Looking at their current top 15, I'd say around 6 or 7 would be considered on-topic here. Another 4 are technically on-topic but they're the sort of question where I'd refer the OP to Freelancing.

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    "I would expect to see close votes because it's outside most users' area of expertise". Then those people need to retake the tour. You don't close something because you don't understand. You VTC if it is genuinely off topic. – SaggingRufus Jul 18 '17 at 9:55
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    "Because it didn't get a single close vote. That's a pretty strong indicator that the community considered it on-topic." - I think in reality this is the key. If folks here want to answer it, then it's on-topic. Oh well. – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '17 at 10:42
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    @SaggingRufus And whether something is on-topic is determined by the community and what they consider the site's scope to be. People come here expecting questions on workplace issues and typically consider themselves eligible to answer if they have relevant professional experience. We often push questions off to Academia because our core userbase does not overlap significantly with Academia. Experience with "conventional" workplaces doesn't give you experience in dealing with the particulars of an academic setting. – Lilienthal Jul 18 '17 at 11:15
  • Similarly, freelancing is very closely related to regular workplace issues but most of our users seem to be classically employed and can't speak to specifics about freelancing questions. You'd expect that subset of users to be the core userbase of Freelancing. – Lilienthal Jul 18 '17 at 11:15
  • @JoeStrazzere Mostly, yes. It's possible for questions to slip through without much attention (or close votes) over the weekend and to then get bountied to prevent close votes but that's very rare and didn't happen here. It's inevitable in a community run site like this that your view of the scope won't match up perfectly. I know I tend to disagree on ergonomics questions being on topic here for instance but most people consider them within the scope. – Lilienthal Jul 18 '17 at 11:31
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    @Lilienthal - thanks, I understand. I'll go back to not worrying about on/off-topic and give up trying to figure it out. – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '17 at 11:54
  • @JoeStrazzere why, your sense of topicality looks OK to me. The question is really borderline, especially part up to "What would you do?" (frankly I would edit that messy sentence out of the question). I would vote close it myself if it didn't turn into "How can I say in a professional way that I do not accept their proposal?" (which still didn't made it clear cut on-topic to me mind you but merely made me uncertain if it may be). That's kind of gray area topic wise and in gray areas you need just learn to live with fact that many may disagree with your assessment – gnat Jul 18 '17 at 16:30
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    @gnat - I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm not really able to discern the "rules" here. That's fine. I'll no longer vote to close anything as off-topic, since I'm clearly not able to judge. (In general, I'd prefer to kill the whole "vote to close" process anyway, and let downvotes/upvotes take care of things.) – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '17 at 16:39
  • I think it's completely up to you whether to use votes to close or not @JoeStrazzere - I merely pointed that in example of this question your sense of topicality looks okay. Though your reliance on up/down votes seems a bit too optimistic because these are too easy to manipulate (recent example). "Trouble with popularity" is a long known thing – gnat Jul 18 '17 at 19:47
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    @gnat - I hear you. Sorry for going all curmudgeony. Maybe I've been on the site too long, since I'm starting to get tired of some of what I see... – Joe Strazzere Jul 18 '17 at 19:55
  • @JoeStrazzere I sympathise with and share your confusion on this issue. In my opinion, there should be clear guidelines to follow as to what is and isn't on-topic for a given SE site, to ensure moderation is done consistently and is not a messy free-for-all. The rules/guidelines need not be static - they could be changed, if the community agrees it is necessary; however, the current guidelines as they stand should be clearly spelled out for all to see. Otherwise, the rules pages should be done away with entirely, if we are to rely on the discretion of the community in all cases. – Time4Tea Sep 20 '18 at 20:47
  • @Time4Tea You should start a new meta discussion if that's a topic you want to explore. – Lilienthal Sep 21 '18 at 7:46

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