I posted this here instead of on the question itself so that we could discuss the question without littering the post itself with meta debate. David Weir is a new user, and this could be a good experiment to try bringing these types of discussions/debates to meta right away instead of plastering them all over the comments.

This question, I've experienced a lot of stress that may impact my work. What can I do to reduce it?, at first glance seemed like a real, actual problem that one would face at work. The issue happened outside of work, but the problem that David is trying to solve is to make sure he can still go to work and be productive.

There are two potential issues I see with this post:

After answering, I noticed that one of the answers is an extremely short "me too" style answer, at least it was at the time I posted this. I'm not sure how to judge this as a problem with the question or just a problem with the answers. In general, an answer isn't bad because it's short, it's bad because the length is generally a symptom of a different problem, either the answer isn't fully answering the question, or the question just isn't constructive. The short answer makes the question seem more like a poll, but the question isn't really a poll.... or is it?

  • 1 - If it is a poll, is there a way we can edit it and fix it, or is there something we could ask David to include in his question that would provide more value?

  • 2 - If the question is good to go, then what needs to be done to fix the answers? I'm afraid that if we got 10+ "me too" answers, the post wouldn't be very valuable. How do we know listening to a podcast reduces stress better than taking a walk without some form of explanation?

I encourage the community to discuss here instead of on the actual question. David is new to the community, and because of the sensitive nature of the question, I feel it's best to keep debate here instead. Thank you for participating in the experiment! :)

  • On Cognitive Sciences we solve an issue similar to this by prohibiting "self help" questions unless they can be answered in the general sense and with real science (meaning the self-help bit can be 100% edited out). Maybe something like that here would be good, barring help that otherwise requires a professional maybe?
    – Rarity
    Oct 31, 2012 at 13:50
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    @Rarity No. The Cognitive Sciences crowd is qualified (hopefully) to (expertly) judge real science, our crowd isn't (in general).
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 22:26
  • @YannisRizos the only "judging" I'm referring to is judging the appropriaty/topicality of a question, not how to answer it
    – Rarity
    Nov 1, 2012 at 1:05

2 Answers 2


2.5 of the 4 answers the question already got are awful. I can post at least 5 answers right now, each centered around a different stress management technique, but:

  1. I'm not qualified to do so, even if I am relatively experienced with the techniques,
  2. Even if I was qualified, the wider Workplace community is generally not qualified to judge the quality of my answers,
  3. Even if this was a community of psychologists and/or psychotherapists, medical advice over the internet is extremely dangerous.

The Workplace is not a self help community, or a community of trained medical professionals. I can understand the urge to post an answer explaining how you personally adapt to stressors and I can also understand how one would feel such an answer is helpful. But it's not, and this is not a free for all discussion forum.

I don't know if the question should be closed or not, but I think it's clear that only two hours since it was posted it's already in trouble. We can either go with the quick fix (close the question) or be extremely vigilant with the answers.

I've already downvoted and/or flagged the answers I feel are sub par/don't belong and will not be voting to close the question. I'll keep an eye on the question, and continue to be extremely strict with any further answers, and I'd like to invite everyone else to do the same.

We have a "back it up" rule, let's enforce it. We also have a relatively high set of standards, let your votes do the talking. Upvote the answers you feel are useful within the context of the Workplace, downvote anything else.

  • ...The .5 is equally split between the two not awful answers, in case anyone's wondering.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:10
  • This feels like the same type of question as those that fall under legal/ethical. I suggested getting professional counseling, which seems similar to suggesting someone get a lawyer but without giving legal advice. ;)
    – jmort253
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:12
  • I was thinking about the discrimination question, which went through a close-reopen cycle, but I think the difference might be that discrimination is definitely a workplace issue. As for stress, I'm not so sure. I'm planning on keeping an eye on this myself. If it turns into a poll, I'll be either voting to close or flagging answers. I almost feel like flagging low quality answers might be better; asking questions, IMHO, is a lot harder than answering them.
    – jmort253
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:17
  • 1
    @jmort253 The discrimination question is a bit different, as there's a coherent set of rules, guidelines and laws that define the concept and the behaviours. Adapting to stressors and overcoming distress, not so much, it's a far more personal process. For example, I find skydiving extremely helpful when it comes to dealing with stress, most people don't (I scream uncontrollably when I jump, but its screams of joy ;).
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:20
  • Hmmm, my answer is a grey area. I don't think one needs to be a Ph.D to know that talking it out and rest are important; I did suggest those things. But at the end, I did suggest talking to a professional, which would be similar to what I would do on Fitness SE if someone had an injury, and it's similar to what I'd do if the question was about a legal issue here, on PMSE, or on OnStartups. I see your point about the discrimination question being different. That makes sense, but at the same time, there are a lot of Workplace issues that also have dedicated experts. Stress exists in workplaces.
    – jmort253
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:25
  • 1
    @jmort253 I don't really want to discuss individual answers, I've voted on all of them (up/down), and that's enough for me in the context of this discussion. If I have something to add to them, I'll comment on them. Since I'm calling for answers to be downvoted and/or removed, I don't really want to make it too obvious which answers I feel are crap. The question is borderline NC, some answers are crap, some are not. We can either close it, or weed out the crap answers and hope for the best, but it's up to everyone to decide what "crap answer" means for themselves.
    – yannis
    Oct 31, 2012 at 6:32
  • I added an answer that tries to focus only on the workplace aspects and deflect the self-help aspects (which are off-topic). We'll see how the community feels about that, I guess. Oct 31, 2012 at 15:10
  • @MonicaCellio - I am not a mod and this is just my opinion but... When I find my answer needs to start with a line like Advice about overcoming these traumas is out of scope for this site, I just do not add an answer. The site would be better served with a close vote for the question. The OP and community are better served waiting for the question to be corrected before answering than jumping in with an answer that might end up obsolete with the edited question. Nov 1, 2012 at 19:38
  • 1
    That said i can feel for the pain of the OP so have yet to cast a close vote on it myself. I know this is not a good question for the site but there is a real person back there feeling real pain Nov 1, 2012 at 19:39
  • 1
    @Chad, I only put that there because serveral existing answers were going there and I wanted to differentiate. Had the question come to me "naked" I would have skipped that part. Nov 1, 2012 at 19:48

As an apparent bad answer giver, I question the usefulness of this site. An assortment of the given answers provided advice that is superficial, from a personal perspective in handling a situations that paralleled the OP. Often for the kinds of problems the OP described, there rarely is little they are going to get from the employer that is really in their best interest and really very limited in relevancy for coping with those kinds of concerns. It is probably ok to try the employer, but my experience tells me its a path not even worth pursuing.

My answer is bad because, I presume, primarily the answer doesn't talk of the workplace aspect directly and no personal story that details my own trauma. Sorry for not spilling my guts out over those events. Outside of morbid curiousity, no one wants to hear those kinds of things.

Additionally, I appreciate the feedback Chad gave about 'destructive' activity, and thats my fault for not adequately explaining that strategy without employing the much maligned terminology of 'destructive'. Worded a different way, fewer people would raise red flags.

If you want this corner of SE to be relevant, I think you are going to need to be a little looser with both the questions and answers you feel are worthy. Strongly reconsider the policy of aggressively, blindly/anonymously downvoting answers. I had to hunt meta to find out why I suddenly had seven downvotes, with only Chad giving some indication of why out of all seven I was being beaten up, and his comment came barely an hour ago. This is by far the worst experience I have had so far with any SE site.

  • 4
    I don't think anyone is asking you to spill your guts out. That said I think expecting all answers focus on the workplace aspects of the question's premise should be obvious on a site call The Workplace. Every time you post an answer, you willingly expose yourself to criticism, and while I realize that downvotes sting, commentary like "If you want this corner of SE to be relevant..." is an overreaction to what essentially is nothing more than an integer on a database somewhere. You make an excellent point on the lack of comments and it's something we (the community) need to get better at.
    – yannis
    Nov 1, 2012 at 21:25
  • 1
    I've posted a comment in your answer. I am not trying to compensate for the lack of feedback to you, this ship has already sailed and it would be a bit hypocritical to post a comment for that purpose now, I'm just explaining my downvote for everyone who happens upon your question in the future (I'm also not pretending that my comment is something more than my personal subjective opinion). Apologies for not posting the comment when I first read your answer.
    – yannis
    Nov 1, 2012 at 21:40
  • I appreciate the feedback. That was exactly the bulk of what I was interested, for the meta aspect. As to the particular topic of discussion, as I mentioned, the concern, while posted to 'The Workplace' involved an effective answer that is actually outside of the workplace. Eg, the problems OP was having isn't really something most workplaces are equipped to deal with in any measurable, meaningful way, and that is why my original post spoke at no lengths to that point. In doing so, I saved any particular critique of other willing commentors; perhaps I shouldn't have.
    – JustinC
    Nov 1, 2012 at 21:53
  • One other meta concern, that I wasn't explicit about is the practice in general of downvoting. While it a technique used on other SE's, it is an operation typically used sparingly from what I have seen. Here, it seems to be used liberally, which perhaps is the norm here; not just from my answer, but throughout the topic. That is what essentially gave my concern for the practices of the site as a whole. Normally, on other sites bad answers just sit and simmer, while the better answers boil. On other sites, it takes a certain almost tasteless, objectional answer to be chilled by downvotes.
    – JustinC
    Nov 1, 2012 at 22:46
  • 1
    The site you seem to be more active on, Programmers, is a site I'm very familiar with (I'm a mod there), and from my perspective The Workplace is a lot less liberal with downvotes than Programmers (my upvote/downvote ratio is 1:1 here and 1:2 on Programmers, for example). We screwed up with your answer, my call for downvotes here on Meta obviously played a part, and the lack of feedback was stupid, but I don't think it's the norm for the site. However, if you've noticed a general trend of unexplained downvotes, it's something worth bringing up as a separate Meta discussion.
    – yannis
    Nov 1, 2012 at 22:59
  • Yes, I am definately new to this area of SE, and I certainly recognize you from P.SE. Thanks for your hard work, and dedication. Seeya around.
    – JustinC
    Nov 1, 2012 at 23:28
  • Hi @JustinC, keep in mind that, while we can't force people to comment on downvotes, I support the idea of encouraging people to explain. I say this as a precaution for how you word a meta discussion on downvoting, as encouragement and forceful explanation would be interpreted on opposite ends by the community. Hope this helps!
    – jmort253
    Nov 2, 2012 at 0:53
  • Certainly, every down vote doesnt call for explaination, especially if the vote is based on disagreement in principle with the premise or point of a message. However, at same point it should follow with the guidance used to close or move a topic: expand, on why if ya want, but include a minimal reason for a down vote based on bad form. Without an indication of bad form, it will be hard to correct, other than to scare people away.
    – JustinC
    Nov 2, 2012 at 1:12

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