Sample question asked on the Programmers SE site:

I prepare an office in my home and I am looking currently for a good quality chair. I do not need to write here how important a good chair is for a developer.

I would like to learn which kind of chair did you buy. Could you share your experience?

Are questions like this off topic?

  • 2
    The key to the bad subjective here is Could you share your experience? you are asking for a list of anecdotes. That is going to be off topic on all SE's. However *My chair at work is causing back pain. What should i look for in a work chair to alleviate this? * would be on topic I believe. Apr 12, 2012 at 15:17

3 Answers 3


I say it's off topic (and a bit non-constructive, as Ninefingers says). It doesn't have any aspect of the topic that is specific to the workplace. It's the same problem Programmers ran into — just because the problem audience to the group, doesn't mean it's specific to the audience.

All people in the workplace eat, sleep and go to the bathroom. You see where I am going?


  • My chair at work is causing back pain. My company is typically resistant to office furniture/accessory expenditures. How do I appropriately ask my boss for a new one?

Applies to workplace specifically


  • My chair at work is causing back pain. How can I find a replacement?

As you can see, both are objective and answerable, but the second has nothing specific for our community.

Summary - diagram

This question prompted me to create a diagram for this site, like Programmers has. (I've asked for feedback on the diagram in a separate question.)

enter image description here

  • Love the chart.
    – jefflunt
    Apr 12, 2012 at 16:31

How do I get from my desk to the canteen on my wheelie chair? Navigating the professional setting... literally!

Ok ok joke over. That's a shopping recommendation question and if you aren't careful, there's a fair chance that'll diverge into a discussion - a huge one. Everyone has their favourite brand of chair, or thinks this, that and the other. I'm not saying we cannot allow it, since this site is subjective by nature; however, it might be worth adding to the question to detail exactly what constitutes a good answer. What you want, really, is not what the person brought but what to look for in a good chair. As an individual, you might even want to specify your build and any posture-related needs.

In short, you're trying to make the question detailed, because you want to invoke detailed, in depth responses. This is good subjective. Bad subjective is:

What chair should you buy?

Without any further clarification.

Regarding the general case - well, I suspect questions like office layouts are on topic, no? I could well ask: "is there any evidence that laying desks opposite of each other might reduce productivity?" and I think that might well work out ok.


Ergonomics should absolutely be on topic here. The question above is not constructive. But questions about office furniture should not be off topic. It is an important part of the workplace and so long as the question is constructive and not clearly outside of the scope of the workplace(IE I am looking to find office chairs i can use in my living room...) then it should be erred towards the side of On topic.

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