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The Workplace is different from Stack Overflow or other technical sites in the SE network in that workplace norms, and thus our answers, vary between geographies, industries, and roles.

The moderators and 25k+ reputation members of The Workplace have access to the analytics data on the site (presumably including the demographic information included).

Is it possible to share some highlights about who is reading and using the site so that we can have a sense of who we should we creating answers for?


As an example, many answers advise the OP to quit or find a new job if they are unhappy with their current environment/compensation/colleagues/etc.

This is bad advice for the majority of working individuals. The median employee lacks a savings, will take 5 to 14 weeks to find a new job, and will lack access to social backstops since their termination was elected.

This is reasonable advice for software engineers in the US. The median software engineer is readily employable and has been earning well above the livable wage (and thus likely has a savings).

Understanding who is represented on the site will improve answers by giving authors a sense of the breadth of perspectives of readers.

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    You should be creating answers for the asker. That's kind of the point :) – Jane S Jun 22 at 21:54
  • Many questions don’t include country or industry tags. I usually assume the majority of folks are from the US, work in tech, and are relatively junior — but that may not be the case. – Jay Jun 22 at 22:16
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    Each question should be taken on a case-by-case basis. You tailor your answer for the information given in the question. If you don't have enough information, ask. For the record, I'm not junior, nor in the US. I do not assume either to be the case when answering questions. – Jane S Jun 22 at 22:51
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    Just a comment on your example, there has been some discussion in the past about the over-use of "quit your job" as an answer: Is 'Quit your job' an acceptable answer? – David K Jun 24 at 20:03
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    @Jay you can also check OP's profile and see if they have their location indicated, and perhaps use that to improve the answers you give – DarkCygnus Jun 24 at 22:10
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The whole point of The Workplace is for anyone to ask a question about their job-related issue, and we as members of the community try to answer it. There is a wide diversity in the locations, ages, and kinds of questions that are asked.

To try to tailor your answers along the lines of the demographics of existing question askers does not help if someone new comes along who sits outside that demographic. The site then becomes impenetrable and ineffective for them, and they leave both dissatisfied and with a bad feeling that we aren't interested in assisting them. This, in turn, reinforces the stereotypical consumer for this site and minimises its effectiveness for a wider audience.

The correct approach when answering is to take each question on a case-by-case basis. If there isn't enough information available in the question, you ask. That is the intent behind comments. That information can then be fed back into the question, the answer, or both.

So while it may be possible to extract the demographic information, practically, it isn't a useful exercise. Answers should be constructed in such a way that it is useful to the asker and to anyone who comes along later who may be in a similar situation. Future viewers will be able to see from the context of the question if it applies to them.

[Edited to address the addendum to the question]

The giving advice of "quit" has been discussed on meta.workplace a few times, and for the most part, it's really not a valid answer. You can always say, "Just quit", irrespective of the issue, so you can take it as assumed knowledge that the OP already knows this.

We try to look beyond the obvious "quit" option, which has its own huge array of potential issues for the OP, for other ways to deal with a workplace problem. Yes, there will be cases when the best option is to leave, but it is not the first place we should go when answering a question.

  • So while it may be possible to extract the demographic information, practically, it isn't a useful exercise - out of curiosity, is it possible? I'm fairly new to the site analytics but don't see anything there about demographics - just historical volume of posts, votes and traffic in line charts, or traffic sources in pie charts. Maybe I'm missing something? – dwizum Jun 24 at 15:33
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    @dwizum not actually analytics, but usually, I check the asker's profile to see if they have a location indicated, and use that to make my answer more on-point whenever possible – DarkCygnus Jun 24 at 22:09
  • @dwizum I honestly haven't tried, which is why I should have perhaps italicized my "may be possible." :) As per my answer, however, statistics don't answer specifics, and every question is asked by a person with a specific (although possibly non-unique) issue. Our job as a community is to try to answer that question in such a way that it's useful to them and hopefully to others who may come across it later on :) – Jane S Jun 24 at 23:02
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    @JaneS I agree with you regarding the overall question - we shouldn't try to apply a broad concept like site analytics in this manner, instead we should answer each question based on it's specifics. More than anything, I asked out of curiosity - since I've just recently gained access to the site analytics and have spent all of about 2 minutes looking at them, I wasn't sure if I was missing something or not! – dwizum Jun 25 at 12:43
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My response is entirely too long to be a comment, so I'm writing it as an answer instead.

The inclusion of demographic information would be useful if it didn't explode the number of questions all having a reasonably similar set of facts.

"I just learned I'm the least paid employee in the entire company, and I will never get a new monitor, desk, or chair. Should I quit?"

That's a fake question, but it is intended to capture a broad enough sentiment as to be generic -- the asker is being treated very poorly. Should they quit?

The answer really does depend on the situation of the asker. But also, not the "demographics of the answerer" because I know how to adjust an answer for someone who needs "experience, any experience, Oh. Dear. G-d. Can I just get some experience?"

This gets back to something about this site -- we really do need to be telling people WHY we're giving an answer and what our basis for that answer is.

So, TL;DR -- We don't need demographics, we need the people answering the questions to explain their thinking.

  • Funny, though, that we can tell you are in Austin TX from your username alone :0) – DarkCygnus Jul 9 at 20:14
  • Actually, I'm not. I moved to the Frozen North ;) – Julie in Austin Jul 10 at 14:26

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