I recently saw this question about adding another bullet point to the "don't ask" list, and was thinking that perhaps instead of maintaining a huge "don't-ask" list, it would be better to clarify the site's scope itself in the very first line of the FAQ to specify that questions need to be about the actual workplace itself, and should not just be seeking an answer from a workplace-oriented community.

Most Q&A sites, forums, or message boards that I know of are not ruled by a specific topic, but are instead used to get answers from a specific targeted community. I think many new users won't grasp on their own how SE is different, so we need to step up and make sure we clarify this for them.

For example, just going through the list of recently closed questions I see

Some of this is specifically in the growing list of "don't ask" bullet points, but I think we can do better than giving our users a big wall of text to read.

Instead, how about we clarify our scope (and possibly tag line) so it is very clear that this site is about a specific topic, and not actually about getting answers from a targeted community like most other sites that resemble Q&A?

For example, what about updating the top section labelled "What kind of questions can I ask here?" from this:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

The Workplace - Stack Exchange is for members of the workforce navigating the professional setting.

To something like this:

What kind of questions can I ask here?

The Workplace - Stack Exchange is a place to get professional or experienced answers about the Workplace.

Please note that all questions should be about the workplace itself, and should not be non-workplace questions that are only seeking advice from another member of the workforce.

The first version says this is a site for a specific type of community, which implies that this is no different than any other forum or message board out there. The 2nd specifies this site is for a specific topic, and that unrelated questions only out to get answers from another member of the workforce are not allowed.

Would it be possible to make a change like this to the FAQ? (exact wording can be up to you guys)

  • Well technically we're both; how about something more like "For members of the workforce....with questions about..." with a better defined list of topics we are about?
    – Rarity
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:54
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    I actually just noticed an edit like this would make some of our "don't-ask" bullet points redundant, so we'd probably have to revise that section as well. I'd keep the section on legal, add a section explaining localized questions with the salary bit and JobA vs JobB bits as examples, and re-iterate that questions should be about the workplace itself using "Please review my CV", "How do I learn to be a...", and "How do I perform the job of a ..." as examples.
    – Rachel
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:55
  • @Rarity I think the topic should be first, because SE sites are first and foremost about a specific topic. The community should be second as we want to make sure users understand that this is not like a forum, where you can post any question that seeks an answer from the community. Something like "The Workplace - Stack Exchange is a place to get professional or experienced answers about the Workplace. It is for any members (or soon to be members) of the workforce looking for help in navigating the professional setting."
    – Rachel
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 16:56
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    I'm fine with a better topic definition making some of the example points redundant, that section's already long. I don't think topic needs to be first since the sentence as-is can naturally read into the community, and exposition of the community is quick and gives you a quick picture of what you really should expect the topic to be about.
    – Rarity
    Commented Oct 9, 2012 at 18:14

1 Answer 1


Based on some of the confusion I recently experienced on a discrimination question, I'd say the FAQ definitely needs a bit of an overhaul. Unlike some other beta sites, this one was built by Stack Exchange users for Stack Exchange users in response to issues on other SE sites.

Therefore, regular users, like me, regularly look at the FAQ for guidance when trying to determine what to upvote, downvote, vote to close, etc. The fact that there isn't a list of what we do here just simply puts more focus on the things we don't do here, and that doesn't send across a very positive message.

As a first step, I suggest we add the following two topics to the "this site is about" section of the FAQ:

  • Harassment
  • Discrimination

Furthermore, we should also consider adding:

  • Workplace Etiquette
  • Termination Issues

But also add something to the effect that specific legal advice is not what we're here for. For that, one must hire an attorney specializing in worker issues.

Note that by listing specific items in both categories, we do not necessarily exclude items that are about "navigating the professional workplace setting." that may not be listed in either category. The FAQ can -- and should -- continue to be evolved as we face new issues. :)

  • I don't really agree with explicitly enumerating what we do here because that implicitly excludes all else. I would rather implicitly include what we do and explicitly exclude what we know to be 99% problematic. What is on topic is the general topic area, not any explicit list of specific items.
    – Rarity
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 18:23
  • Not sure I agree @Rarity, there are other examples of other sites that do enumerate what we do but that don't necessarily exclude items just because they're not listed. By listing what we do, we're less likely to have people vote to close harassment questions just because it wasn't clear what side of the line they're on.... With that said, I do think it's more important to list what we don't do, so I think we're doing pretty good there.
    – jmort253
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 18:29
  • I think you're letting a specific example cloud your judgement...the discrimination question did need to be closed as it was unclear and lacking some important details, and it was improved substantially and reopened, all by the community no less. Off topic shouldn't have been picked as a close reason, but suffering a small handful of wrong close reasons is a lot less of a risk to my mind than implicitly restricting the scope of the site significantly. I'd rather questions be asked and some closed than see them never asked at all.
    – Rarity
    Commented Oct 14, 2012 at 18:32
  • most harrassment and discrimination questions are nearly impossible to keep separate from legal issues...
    – enderland
    Commented Oct 20, 2012 at 4:25

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