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I just saw this site exists. Looks interesting and useful, but I'm finding it slightly difficult to place in my mental map of stackexchange sites.

The stackexchange network makes most sense when thought of as clusters of expertise you can ask questions to. If you have a programming question, you go where the programmers are (stackoverflow). If it's a tech support question, ask the tech support folks on superuser. If it's about a bike, you ask the keen cyclists and bike shop people on bikes.SE. If it's a design question, ask the designers on graphicdesign.SE. If it's about something Apple/Android/Linux/etc related, ask the assorted techies, developers and fans on each of the appropriate sites. If it's a cooking question, ask the chefs and keen amateur cooks on Seasoned Advice. And so on for sci-fi geeks, English language teachers and scholars, philosophers, photographers...

What fills the equivalent blank in "I have a question about what best to do in a difficult workplace situation. I'll ask the ?????????????s on Workplace.SE"? What is/are the vein(s) of expertise that an asker is tapping into here? What characterises Workplace.SE regulars?

Do you represent managers, or HR / career guidance professions? Or are you people from a range of professional backgrounds who simply each know from experience that you are good at office life, and you like to help out? Or is there some other trend? Or is there no one particular trend? If so, how does that work - what's the selling point, the draw, the specific expertise that means people are best off asking here?

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I'd offer the guess from observation of answers, that a fairly stastically significant group of us are "knowledge working professionals" who are most likely to be in either IT or software/solution development. Within those two basic descriptions is where I've seen the richest collection of answers and questions.

I'd say there are outliers - some HR folks, some other types of general business folks, and managers of knowledge working teams. I've also seen a recruiter or two.

  • Great, thanks! Many SE sites begin with a very high proportion of users who work in software development / IT due to the massive popularity of StackOverflow etc, then very gradually the balance slowly drifts towards a more diverse user base. Any idea if this change is happening on Workplace.SE or is it too early to tell? Do you think the number of these "outliers" is increasing, decreasing, or staying about the same? – user568458 Oct 17 '12 at 18:04
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Or are you people from a range of professional backgrounds who simply each know from experience that you are good at office life, and you like to help out?

You've hit the nail on the head, this would be an apt description. I don't think there's a short label we could apply to describe the experts on The Workplace, the only thing that comes to mind is "professionals".

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    Agreed. Some of us are executives, some are middle managers, some are one or the other inside and outside of HR, etc. (and, like on the other SE sites, we're not all guys) – jcmeloni Oct 15 '12 at 23:33
  • Some of us are entry level grunts. Some of us are college kids that think we know everything. Some of us are Steve Jobs. As with any other Stack Exchange site, look at the voting trends and the reputation, and trust the answers that look legitimate. – yoozer8 Oct 16 '12 at 3:03
  • @Jim that's kinda my question. On stackoverflow, 2,500+ rep is usually a sign that this person must be a legitimate professional programmer (and regular user). On graphicdesign.SE, 1,000+ rep is a sign that this person must be a professional designer (and regular user). Someone on travel.SE with 1,000+ must be an experienced traveller (and regular user). You could say my question is essentially, "When a workplace.SE user has high rep, what else does it say about them, in addition to signifying that they are a regular user?" – user568458 Oct 16 '12 at 12:10
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    @jcmeloni I meant "guys" in the non-gender-specific sense as used in Friends etc, edited the question for benefit of regions where that sitcom didn't catch on... :) – user568458 Oct 16 '12 at 12:12
  • @user568458 Don't confuse reputation with expertise, I know a lot of guys with tons of reputation who don't really qualify as experts (for example). Reputation is a rough measurement of how much the community trusts you, and just that. Each site has only one actual expert, the community itself. – yannis Oct 16 '12 at 12:16
  • @YannisRizos But you'll take my point that anyone looking at your profile can instantly see that you're a professional programmer whose focus is more towards system design than coding, like how anyone glancing at my profile can see that I'm a designer with some modest web-related coding skills. If someone had 12,000 rep in Workplace.SE and 76 rep in cooking.SE (down from 100), what inferences could you draw, other than that they are probably a terrible cook? :) – user568458 Oct 16 '12 at 12:25
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    @user568458 System design? What??? I'm a web developer, 99% of my work involves hacking PHP ;) – yannis Oct 16 '12 at 12:28
  • @YannisRizos By system design I mean the conceptual system planning stuff that programmers.SE is for - deciding in what ways the PHP needs to be hacked, not just implementing some other guy's specifications. Not my trade so I don't know the right term! – user568458 Oct 16 '12 at 12:30
  • @user568458 Well... Yes and no, reputation is fuzzy. Several of my answers are on questions that were featured on Reddit, HackerNews and elsewhere and I got disproportional amounts of rep from them (more people saw them, more people voted). Think of reputation as a hint that the user knows his stuff, but at the end of the day it's just a hint, nothing more. – yannis Oct 16 '12 at 12:40
  • @user568458 To continue the example: My Stack Overflow account has just a bit over 1K rep, after three years. Programmers and Stack Overflow overlap significantly in expertise, I (probably) could have got a decent amount of rep on Stack Overflow if I tried but... I don't like Stack Overflow very much. Had you seen my Stack Overflow account first, your (first) impression of my skills would be different than from what you got from my ProgSE account, and it would be false... – yannis Oct 16 '12 at 12:44
  • @user568458 Gotta disagree with your further point about "professionals". I would guess the majority of cooking 1000+ users are hobbyists; same for Travel, for Money (I have 1000+ and just study finance for my own personal information), UXers may likely be professional programmers not UX designers, Gardening, Christianity, Judaism, etc. etc. – Nicole Oct 17 '12 at 17:34
  • @NickC - Agreed, and see also my own examples above, of Travel.SE (will tend to be experienced travellers, could also include pro tour guides, reps, travel writers...), bikes.SE (..."keen cyclists and bike shop people"), cooking.SE (..."chefs and keen amateur cooks), Apple/Android/Linux/etc (..."techies, developers and fans") etc. I'm asking about general trends, which do exist; I'm definitely not trying to argue that there are any abnormally rock-solid rules, because there clearly won't be, real life just ain't like that :) – user568458 Oct 17 '12 at 17:59
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Workplacers?

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Expertise gained from Experience - A Q & A site that has a social aspect to it is better suited for workplace questions because many deal with social norms. I'm not sure you could go to college and learn any of this in a direct field of study.

Like the other SE sites, the peer review is going to determine who is providing the best answers. Degrees, certifications and jobs held won't get you any points. Research and references to other opinions can help.

This question brings up something I've never considered.

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