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This question: Being made redundant, but asked to do contract work after finishing -- how should I negotiate my contracting rate? was recently put on hold, as primarily opinion-based. However, this seems to me to be overly rigid, given the question has received 45+ up votes and the top-voted answer has received over 100.

There aren't really any hard-and-fast rules governing advice on workplace-related matters - it's not like Physics or Programming. In many cases, there isn't a right or wrong answer, and many valid/good answers are going to involve some level of opinion or personal experience.

Given the popularity of the question and that the answers seem to be helping a lot of people, should this hold decision be reconsidered? It seems to be prioritizing the letter of the rules ahead of helping people with their workplace-related issues.

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However, this seems to me to be overly rigid, given the question has received 45+ up votes and the top-voted answer has received over 100.

First, I think it is important to remember that the fact that a post has votes or not does not necessary make it on topic. Regardless of the true nature of the post, its score does not excuse it if it were to be off-topic.

Given the popularity of the question and that the answers seem to be helping a lot of people, should this hold decision be reconsidered?

Perhaps it could be reconsidered, for that purpose I recommend you post a question (or morph this one) if that is what you want to ask.

Even so, I'd like to point out the questions asked on that post, which seem to be in fact broad enough for some people to VTC:

  • How should I go about negotiating my rate to come back as a contractor?

    Needless to say, this is clearly broad and also asking us to make a choice for OP.

  • Does anyone have any tips/suggestions for how to negotiate this?

    Although this is more framed, still asking for "any tips/suggestions" could be interpreted as broad, or at least partially lacking a goal (negotiate how, with what goal).

  • Is it worth trying to negotiate a 'contract rate' for this week, or just come in at my salaried rate, in order to not jeopardize the relationship?

    If it's worth it is quite opinion-based IMHO (lol); only OP can know if it's worth for them. Getting more picky, this also seems like a choice question in disguise (Should I negotiate or come at salaried rate?).


Bottom line, even though I did not VTC that question I would not vote to reopen, at least not in it's current form.

  • Hi DarkCygnus, I agree with your first point: just because a question/answer is popular and getting a lot of votes does not necessarily mean it is on topic. Some of your other points though refer to the question being too broad; however, the question was held because it was opinion-based. It seems to me that being broad and being opinion-based are two different things (hence the two distinct flags). – Time4Tea Jul 19 '18 at 21:28
  • @Time4Tea so... should we reopen so we can then close again for the correct reason? If you read my answer carefully, in one of the points I said that "It is quite opinion based" (the last point). The others, according to my interpretation, fell better into the broad category and not so much opinion based, but can also be opinion based ("any suggestions" is opinion based, and also broad, "how should I" is also opinionated and broad, plus lacking a goal). – DarkCygnus Jul 19 '18 at 22:10
  • I admit it might seem like I'm being pedantic. However, I think the closure reason matters, because if I am considering editing the question to improve it (which I am), it would help if the reason for it being closed is accurate. If the main reason was it being too broad, that might be easier to fix with an edit than if it was opinion-based, as that seems to me to be more to do with the fundamental topic (so maybe I'd be wasting my time trying to fix it). – Time4Tea Jul 23 '18 at 0:00
  • I guess the bottom-line for me is that personally I think the underlying question is valid and is a good question for the site, and I feel like it should be possible to re-write it in a way that would be valid. What I'm fishing for is: is it worth my while to try to re-write it, or is the underlying question simply off-topic and un-salvageable? – Time4Tea Jul 23 '18 at 0:03
  • @Time4Tea I'd say it's salvageable, that is why I said I wouldnt Vote to reopen in it current form... if it were edited I would reconsider :) – DarkCygnus Jul 23 '18 at 1:51
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Popularity is not in any way an indication of question quality or whether it's on-topic. Frankly, if there were a link, I would argue that it's negatively correlated.

There aren't really any hard-and-fast rules governing advice on workplace-related matters - it's not like Physics or Programming. In many cases, there isn't a right or wrong answer, and many valid/good answers are going to involve some level of opinion or personal experience.

Sure, but we do have rules regarding what questions you can ask and how to ask good questions. And they exist because sometimes questions are either too specific or too broad, or might otherwise be impossible to answer properly.

Given the popularity of the question and that the answers seem to be helping a lot of people, should this hold decision be reconsidered?

Not for that reason no, as per the above.

It seems to be prioritizing the letter of the rules ahead of helping people with their workplace-related issues.

Yes, because that's Stack Exchange's mission statement. This site is a Q&A repository, not a self-help group or advice column. Strictly speaking the help that answers provide to the single original author is incidental to the main goal of provide answers and advice for those that follow. That means that any question that isn't at least somewhat generalisable is off-topic. This answer on the SO meta covers that in more detail. (The entire thread there is worth reading to learn more about the network.)


Note that this meta question comes up every so often, but I can't seem to find a decent main thread to link to. Also note that I haven't actually looked at the question that prompted this. At gnat's recommendation you may want to check my answer on a related question where I outline the criteria I see for good (or at least answerable) questions.

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    consider this as a decent main thread to link to. For the second part of your answer (helping one asker vs knowledge repository) my favorite reference is this one from MSO, "The primary purpose is to build a repository of questions and answers. By its very nature, of course, that is going to help people, and that is the rationale behind creating the site... but it is not the rationale behind using it..." – gnat Jul 19 '18 at 9:16
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    @gnat Good find, didn't think to check the SO meta. – Lilienthal Jul 19 '18 at 10:20
  • There are several things I disagree with here. For a start, I think saying that 'the site is a Q&A repository, not an advice column' is a bit spurious. I mean, if the main goal of a Q&A site is not to help people with their problems, then what is it? (I have been using SE sites for several years, btw, before I joined TWP) – Time4Tea Jul 19 '18 at 21:35
  • You also say that 'Strictly speaking the help that answers provide to the single original author is incidental to the main goal of provide answers and advice for those that follow'. Sure, I completely agree. However, I would say the number of up-votes the highest-rated answer received is an indication that it is helping many more people other than the OP. – Time4Tea Jul 19 '18 at 21:37
  • Another point is that the question you linked to about 'what is the purpose of Stack Overflow?' relates to Stack Overflow, which is a different site in the SE network. It seems to me reasonable to expect that different SE sites might have different rules/mission statements, given that they cover a wide range of topics from very serious (Physics, Programming) to more light-hearted (Role-playing Games, Coffee appreciation). – Time4Tea Jul 19 '18 at 21:40
  • Lastly, the question I asked was in relation to a specific question on TWP: 'should this specific question be re-opened?' So, I think the fact that you didn't actually read the linked question detracts from the relevancy of your answer. You are answering a very specific question in a general way. – Time4Tea Jul 19 '18 at 21:43
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    @Time4Tea wrt goal of this site, "You have it backwards, I think..." – gnat Jul 20 '18 at 4:55
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    @Time4Tea I can only give you the information, you have to decide what to do with it. I've answered every single question you just put in the comments so I'm not sure repeating myself would help. As for the SO Meta: it was and to some extent still is common for site-wide questions to be asked on the main SO meta rather than the SE meta. And the topic discussed there is the core SE philosophy which is shared across all sites, regardless of their individual theme. Really, this is just how SE works. You are free to disagree with that but you're not going to convince us. – Lilienthal Jul 20 '18 at 6:50
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Yes, the question should be re-opened (but may need re-wording).

It was put on hold on the grounds that it is 'primarily opinion-based'. Lilienthal's answer to this question gives the best objective criteria I have found for when a question should be considered 'too opinion-based':

Not Opinion-based

This is a tricky one and the one that's most up for interpretation. Variations on "Will this improve my chances?" and "What do X think about Y?" are likely all opinion-based. The main criteria is whether there's a "standard opinion" for a particular culture/industry/area.

For instance "Will coming in late affect my career?" could be seen as being opinion-based as some managers will care and some won't. However, in the US and many European countries being late to work (without flexible hours) will negatively affect your reputation in virtually every company. In other countries that's much less of a problem. When properly defined a question like this can be answerable and useful.

The key point seems to be whether there is a standard opinion that relates to the matter being asked about. In the case of this specific question ('How should I negotiate a contacting rate?'), there seems to be a level of consensus in the answers that indicates there is a standard opinion on this: the contracting rate for a particular job should be some significant multiple (3-4x) of the hourly rate for a full-time employee doing the same job. Therefore, this question does not seem to fit the criteria given in the quote above for 'too opinion-based'.

DarkCygnus, in their answer, suggested that the question might also be interpreted as too broad. I agree that the way it is written, in some places, does give that impression. However, I don't think the underlying question of 'how do I calculate a contracting rate?' is too broad - many good answers have been given that address the question within a length that is appropriately succinct for SE.

Perhaps if I were to edit the question to make it less broad, it might be a candidate for re-opening? The fundamental question of how to calculate a contracting rate for a job seems to be a good question for the site and could potentially help many people in future.

  • too many factors in the calculation, most of which we wouldn't know, so a good answer would be so broad as to be essentially useless. The best edit would change the question to... 'what factors should I include in my negotiation calculations.' and the answer would still be dependent on too many unknowns. – Kilisi Aug 4 '18 at 19:03

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