I frequently see an appeal to identity in answers and comments - especially "As a manager myself..." - including my own. I've had a variety of reactions ranging from seeing the appeal as way of qualifying an answer to seeing it as a poorly-veiled brag.

In the professional setting, I've understood appeals to identity to be unhelpful and unnecessary. However, given the frequency that I see them in well-liked answers and from well-reputed members, I'm curious about the rationale for both including and avoiding such an appeal in posts here.

Is there a way these statements can be interpreted to be enhancing answers and comments? Or are they something to avoid (and substitute with a different reference/analysis)?

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    Related: Does 'back it up' apply 'round here?
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Jul 23, 2019 at 23:11
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    Related MSE post: How widespread is the “back it up” principle?
    – DarkCygnus Mod
    Jul 23, 2019 at 23:11
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    I think you are confusing a logical fallacy with the simple objective fact that experience and training can make people more qualified to answer questions or otherwise share knowledge on the things they are experienced or trained in. "As your doctor I recommend that you lose weight." is not an appeal to identity, neither is prefixing an answer with "based on my experience as a manager". If someone gives himself the title of manager or CEO but has no experience to realistically claim it, using that title in an argument would be a fallacy.
    – Lilienthal Mod
    Jul 25, 2019 at 7:37
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    "I frequently see an appeal to identity in answers" - I'm not sure I see a lot of answers that attempt to claim any validity solely due to the identity of the answerer. In your own answer you wrote "a perspective from a manger." To me, that's not an "appeal to identity". Jul 29, 2019 at 22:03

3 Answers 3


Is there a way these statements can be interpreted to be enhancing answers and comments? Or are they something to avoid (or substitute with a different reference/analysis)?

Quoting Monica on this answer, emphasis mine:

Mentioning your position and experience is exactly right here. Please keep doing that. If you're answering a question about what interviewers do, explaining your background in interviewing/hiring is highly relevant. Some questions require different kinds of backing-up (like data), but many of our questions can be addressed through experience.

I agree with that statement. Here in TWP sometimes experience is more relevant than a documentation or "official source".

Furthermore, we do have a back it up policy. That can be done by quoting relevant sources or well, backing it up with your experience on the subject.

Just be careful not to phrase it in an arrogant way, as that can indeed trigger negative responses from the readers. In practice, I try to do both: provide a reference source if able and/or provide a personal experience or knowledge.

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    Bingo. To me its part of backing up your answer.
    – Neo
    Jul 24, 2019 at 11:28

The position on opinion-based answers (and Workplace is heavily opinion-based, and we seem to accept it) is that you have to back it up with personal evidence. Similar to the Roleplaying policy, we want practical advice, from people with similar experience, not theoretical knowledge.

So, stating that you have been in similar situation, and played particular role (manager or subordinate), is important for the answer. The difference, I guess is between:

"As a manger I dealt with that situation in the following way and it ended with X" versus "As a manager I think that the right answer is Z"

Also, today the spectrum of "management" is extremely wide and that title includes people from those who oversee work of 1 other person, to CEOs of multi-national corporations. So calling yourself manager doesn't sound like a great badge of honor to me.


I think there are two similar but subtly different things to consider:

  • Stating an identity as a way to justify or back up your answer, by showing that you've had experience with it. I think this use case is what the other answers are describing. While I understand the desire for people to "justify" an answer by stating their experience, personally I feel it's a little weak to do that by simply starting your key sentence with "as a manager, I..." as in, "as a manager, I would never do X" or "as a manager I would suggest Y" - which seems to be all that's done in some answers. Instead, I think it's more appropriate to just state your position, and then back it up by explaining your experience, versus just tacking an "I've been a manager" identity onto the answer - as if saying that you're a manager is, in and of itself, justifying your answer, without any further backup. If you take this approach to an extreme, you don't really need to even call out the "manager" identity, you can just provide your answer and describe your experiences - the identity becomes secondary.
  • Stating an identity as a way to frame your answer from a specific perspective. This, to me, is entirely different, because the identity can help frame the perspective of the answer. This is important to do in many questions that deal with multiple frames of reference - for instance, many of us have sat on both sides of the interview table - when answering a question about interviewing, it can be helpful to provide a frame of reference, i.e. to state whether you're speaking from the interviewer's perspective, or the interviewee's.

I'm posting this answer because I think the two possible reasons for stating an identity that you've suggested (either as qualifying an answer or as bragging) don't take this second point into consideration, and for me, this second point is the most useful reason to state an identity in an answer. A majority of Workplace questions are based on inter-personal relationships (interviewer-interviewee, or boss-employee, or coworker-coworker) so it can be very helpful to frame an answer from a given perspective - especially when the person asking the question is asking because they're only seeing things from one of the two involved perspectives. For instance, someone may be asking a question that basically sound like, "why is my boss making me do X" - in which case, it can be helpful to provide an answer of as a boss, it's important to... - in this case, the answerer may not be literally using "as a boss" as a way to justify or back up the answer, but rather as a way to indicate that they are trying to provide perspective that's different than the one the asker naturally sees themselves.

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