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Recently the What should I do Close reason wording was changed to:

Questions asking for advice on a specific career choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else. Instead of asking which decision to make, try asking how to make the decision, or more specific details about one element of the decision.

A few years ago the change was made to the close reason with the intent of it being a broad ban on on questions asking us to make a choice for the op. I agree the wording was clunky as "What should I do" can easily be broadly interpreted to cover how should I do this questions. That was never the intent of that close reason. So we broadly backed the change to be:

Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else. Instead of asking which decision to make, try asking how to make the decision, or more specific details about one element of the decision.

When it was implemented the word career was added to the close reason that appears to limit the close reason to just career decisions not any decision. I think the original suggested wording which has always had broad support is a much better version and we should make a quick change to that version of the close reason.


EDIT - Completed

The suggested changes have been made to the close reason and are live as of 2017-08-09. The word "career" has been dropped and based on DavidK's suggestion we added a "for". That left only 4 characters so the longer wording in the answer below could not be used.

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    I agree with your assessment. – Richard Says Reinstate Monica Aug 4 '17 at 14:50
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    Can you give an example of a question that is not a "career" choice but would still be off-topic? – David K Aug 4 '17 at 14:50
  • @DavidK how about this question, is closed as off topic and not about career choice... – DarkCygnus Aug 4 '17 at 15:43
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    @GrayCygnus I meant a question that would be considered off-topic for "asking for advice on a specific choice", but that would not classify as a career choice. The question you linked seems completely unrelated to the close reason we're discussing. – David K Aug 4 '17 at 15:47
  • Hmm, I guess before we also sometimes used this close reason (CR) for questions that overlapped with the "questions require a goal" CR, as in "I'm in [difficult situation]. What do I do?". But those are ultimately covered fully by the latter CR so that's not really an issue. I agree with @DavidK that some examples of questions that would have been affected would be good here. – Lilienthal Aug 4 '17 at 16:09
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    @DavidK - Should I fire someone, shoudl I quit, should I refuse to do something I was directed that I do not believe in... Basically anything that starts with should I and has a limited choice set of options – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 4 '17 at 16:31
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    @Lilienthal - I think those are the questions that actually were getting caught sometimes that maybe should not have been. A lot of times there is an implied question of how can I resolve this situation with the least amount of pain... But what are my options questions yes should be part of the suggested close reason. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 4 '17 at 16:36
  • I also agree with your assessment. – Mister Positive Aug 4 '17 at 17:58
  • As a side suggestion, warning users in the help pages to refrain from using/asking "Should I...?" in their questions could prove helpful to prevent this questions from being asked – DarkCygnus Aug 4 '17 at 18:37
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    @IDrinkandIKnowThings Those do seem like questions that this CR should cover which would make including "career" needlessly restrictive. +1 from me. – Lilienthal Aug 4 '17 at 20:15
  • @Lilienthal - We seem to have agreement on this could we have the change made please? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 8 '17 at 20:51
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    @IDrinkandIKnowThings Done. See update. Change is now live. – Lilienthal Aug 9 '17 at 19:50
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Yes lets remove the word Career from the close reason and go with the wording that was originally well received.

Questions asking for advice on a specific choice, such as what job to take or what skills to learn, are difficult to answer objectively and are rarely useful for anyone else. Instead of asking which decision to make, try asking how to make the decision, or more specific details about one element of the decision, or for more specific details .

  • I'd also add a slight grammatical fix in the last sentence: "try asking how to make the decision, or for more specific details" – David K Aug 8 '17 at 17:22
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    I am good with that change @DavidK assuming it does not run afoul of the character limit that SE has set. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 8 '17 at 20:50
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Should I fire someone, should I quit, should I refuse to do something

Those can all be closed as primarily opinion-based. Doesn't the below just perfectly describe what's wrong with the above questions?

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.

The reason I suggested we focus on "career" in the first place (to a greater extent than the current phrasing) was because trying to cover every primarily opinion-based question here would lead to an overly broad reason that's basically the same as another existing reason (and we'd be back where we started).

I mean, "advice on a ... choice" is actually fairly vague and broad - it can very well include asking how to make the decision, or more specific details about one element of the decision, and probably covers like 90% of the questions on this site.

The type of questions that I'm thinking about here are non-opinion-based workplace questions that can only be answered by experts in that very specific field. This is perhaps not the best example, but something like "How do I go about getting a job as an X" would fall under this reason - this might be a bit broad or opinion-based, but, from those points of view, it seems very similar to something like the on topic "How do I solve workplace problem Y" (as in there are a few ways and the "best" way is subjective), yet the former is still off topic.


If we're going to remove "career", I might recommend a phrasing like:

Questions asking us to make a specific ... decision for you ...

But again, this would 100% be covered under primarily opinion-based.

If we're not going to remove "career", the phrasing can probably stay roughly as is to cover the career questions mentioned above.


Here's an interesting note - 4/5 of our top questions site-wide can be rephrased to ask us to make a decision for them:

Maybe the fact that they're slightly more specific and ask whether it's ethical / rude / professional is enough to make them on topic, but the last one is literally just "should I", and it's hardly the only one (yes, I know one of those are closed... and I V'edTC it, but the fact that we're not consistent helps my argument more than hurting it - but here's three more to make up for it nonetheless). All of those currently have a score above 100.

  • "All of those currently have a score above 100." A question gaining bazillion upvotes doesn't make it a on-topic question. Most of those votes come from drive-by upvoters after the question makes it to the Sidebar Garbage, aka HNQ. Drive-by voting is heavily skewed in favour of upvotes, so once the question hits the Sidebar Garbage, vote count is reduced to a farce. – Masked Man Aug 6 '17 at 17:41
  • @MaskedMan Sure, but it seems unlikely that a question that most top users agree is off topic would make it to HNQ in the first place, at least not on a site that doesn't have all that much traffic usually, like this one. – Dukeling Aug 6 '17 at 22:20
  • While correct in theory, that is not how HNQ works in practice. Too often, the question hits HNQ before the top users have a chance to look at it. (This is most likely if it is posted at a time when US users are inactive.) Top users don't keep refreshing all day to see if a new question shows up that needs to be closed. On a side note, rather unfortunately, I have noticed that top users don't cast close votes, even though they argue in comments why the question is off-topic. Of course, this is not to criticize your answer, but just pointing out some issues we see regularly. – Masked Man Aug 7 '17 at 1:20
  • I really wish we could eliminate the primarily opinion based close reason. We have a topic that is going to rely on opinions for many answers. In theory that is why we have a back it up policy, so that opinions are not enough for an answer, but that policy is not enforced at all. This close reason is too often just I do not like your question and/or do not have an answer I can easily post for rep. Basicaly if you can write a good answer that does not rely on opinion for a question the primarily opinion based close reason is not a good choice. That is why we need these off topic. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Aug 7 '17 at 14:19

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