Examples include:

I've seen a bit of jumping the gun on questions which are not, in fact, duplicates, or company specific but are being closed as such.

It is perfectly fine to refrain from voting on a question or especially voting to close a question if you are unfamiliar with the subject matter or culture.

Maritime industry standards are not employer specific and can be VERY different from country to country and trade treaties for example. Someone with no industry experience may not know this. Additionally, what applies to IT does not apply to other parts of a workplace. We generally get away with a good deal more, for example.

What I have observed from those two examples, and another about a factory worker is a rush to close these posts from people I know are not familiar with those industries and/or cultures. (given that they've posted what industry they are in and/or have it in their profile, this is not conjecture)

I think we should resist the urge to vote to close if we are unfamiliar with the industry or the culture. I wonder what the Community thinks about this situation, and what can we do to improve it?

  • 1
    I'm fairly new to the site and I've noticed some people seem to have an itchy vote-to-close trigger finger, in general. A question should be given the benefit of the doubt, imo, unless it's a very clear case.
    – Time4Tea
    Jul 18, 2018 at 17:12
  • @Time4Tea agreed, and edited for clarity if it's iffy. Jul 18, 2018 at 17:14
  • 1
    The first question is either legal advice(Am I likely to be sued) or a duplicate(What are the consequenses of absconding in India(you do not get a relieving letter and could be reported as having absconded) which is a duplicate.... Jul 18, 2018 at 18:01
  • This is a long standing issue that the community has put little concerted effort into resolving. workplace.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4932/…
    – Myles
    Jul 24, 2018 at 14:21
  • @Myles It appears we have had some progress recently, so I will continue to spearhead it when I see it. Jul 24, 2018 at 14:24

3 Answers 3


We should give the question a chance. I skip questions I don't know about and come back to them later or just make a comment for clarification. But I rarely vote to close anyway, usually that is done very quickly by the same people. Sometimes I wonder if they actually made an attempt to understand the question first.


I'd like to quote this answer of mine (slightly adapted) on a related post, where we discussed how to be more welcoming to non-IT questions. This applies the same to questions outside our area of expertise:

As an IT folk, but also a bit of a Generalist, I have developed a simple flow chart that I try to follow when navigating TWP:

  1. See a new Question asked
  2. Read it thoroughly, perhaps even twice.
  3. Is it about a topic I know/could answer or a setting I'm familiar with?
    1. Yes -> Proceed to edit, answer, comment or VTC -> Go to 1
    2. No -> Stick to just edits and clarifications -> Go to 1

Of course, if a post is really unclear regardless of the topic one should be VTC, but personally I like to ask for clarifications first before casting my vote (if the user is not engaged or does not clarify then I cast the vote).

Bottom line I too believe we should resist the urge to vote to close if we are unfamiliar with the industry or the culture. At least try to ask for clarification first, or take a shot at an edit for improvement. Let's try to be more welcoming and not be too quick to cast your votes.


I think we should proceed with a good deal of caution.

It's fine if something is not your area of expertise. While bad advice is worse than no advice, preventing someone from getting advice is worse still.

I've noticed this trend in answering questions about disabilities in the workplace as well. Not all questions about disabilities fall under "You are covered by the laws in your city/country/state and therefore this is a duplicate".

To take the disabilities as an example. In the USA we have the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). What some people overseas may not know (and many Americans as well) is that there are quite a few caveats to it but one need not be a lawyer to know them. An advocate such as myself can give basic information.

Nor are accommodations and resources for all disabilities the same, or even the agencies that deal with disabilities. So, an answer to go to the EEOC officer for one company might not be useful for someone with a disability where there may be other resources available, or even different agencies involved.

That doesn't mean that a question is too specific either. While going to the EEOC officer may be fine for one person, someone who is blind should be told to go to the commission for the blind. Someone with Autism may be directed towards OASIS.

Then, there's even public vs private employment in the USA.

Telling a factory worker to go to OSHA is fine, but closing a question as a duplicate for a public worker at the road department would be wrong, because OSHA doesn't cover public employment.

Let's back off a bit, eh?

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .