I asked today a generic question and see that there are two close requests:

  • opinion-based
  • does not meet the guidelines

I have the answer to my question so I am now curious about the rationale behind the close requests.

The opinion-based one is off the bat - and the answers were fact-based.

The second one is more interesting because I was wondering whether SE Workplace is indeed the best place to ask that question. Being an active reader (and occasionally - answerer) I feel it is more intended for "personal" questions (in other words, questions that address an individual problem, rather than a general one such as the one in my question).

I was thinking of SE Law, or even SE Politics as alternatives but SE Workplace finally sounded (to me) as the best one.

Any comments?

4 Answers 4


Both are correct reasons to close, there is a specific close reason for companies:

Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals.

Now, you could EDIT your question like this:

Change THIS:

Why is Amazon telling their employees that they will pay for a union?


Why would a company tell their employees that they will pay for a union?

We cannot answer for a specific company, and any answers you would guess would be guesswork.

Also, when asking about questions in America, please keep in mind that laws about unions and contracts vary from state to state, and can to wild degree, so if you can name the state, that's an even finer point.

  • 1
    Makes sense, thanks, I will update the question
    – WoJ
    Commented Feb 25, 2021 at 18:10
  • That change of title is so trivial to the actual intent of the question, it's hard for me to believe that it should make a difference between meeting the guidelines or not. If anything the title needs a bit more clarification about what is being asked.
    – teego1967
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 17:44
  • 1
    @teego1967 You ask about a specific business, it will get closed as OT. That's in the rules, and there are people here who will close at the drop of a hat. He asked this question on Meta, and I answered. I see no need to overcomplicate things. The important thing is his question stays open, and he gets decent answers. Some of us here are more interested in helping than in either closing for nonsensical reasons or nit-picking over minor details. Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 18:35
  • @Old_Lamplighter, closing the question because the title mentioned "Amazon" and then re-opening it after removing "Amazon" is, by any reasonable measure, nitpicking. Amazon has over half a million employees (not counting even more contractors). That's more than the total than are in many industries. Moreover, Amazon is currently a central figure in labor and worker-rights concerns that span the globe. Having "Amazon" as a part of the question is decidedly NOT too specific.
    – teego1967
    Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 11:41
  • @teego1967 I don't make the rules. Commented Mar 16, 2021 at 11:53

The important thing is you asked a question and got a couple of thoughtful and helpful answers and some lively commentary. I would say that your question was a success and you should be glad.

There happen to be some gamification doodads on the site: points, up/down votes, vote-to-close requests, and other stuff like "privileges" that kick in when you have enough points.

Some personalities really, REALLY, enjoy the gamification aspect of this place and take rules as seriously as though they were playing a game with real money on the table. Others seem to take pleasure in thoughtless drive-by close votes and downvotes even if they don't really care about the subject matter of the question.

I suppose that the gamification helps keep the site from devolving into chaos, but it also means that there's some collateral damage when people ask earnest questions and that get closed, downvoted, or worst of all, marked with smug dismissive commentary.

The best approach is to make a reasonable effort to ask a good question, don't worry about what happens to your "score", and be glad if you get a good answer before the self-appointed off-topic police close the question.

  • 1
    Thanks - after (I had to check :)) 10 years and ~70k rep on SE I am aware of the gamification/ego aspect but I am not interested at all in that. I like SE and the help it brings. I used to have a ~1M reddit account which I simply deleted one evening because I realized that I was discussing about really important things with a 12 yo who knew it all. I do not even know how long I am on Hacker News (no idea about my rep there) so that part is clear :) It is rather the second close request which made me wonder about what SE Workspace is for (I had doubts about posting my question here as well)
    – WoJ
    Commented Feb 27, 2021 at 15:27

I disagree with voting to close in this particular case - even though the question was originally formulated as being about a specific company, the question isn't opinion-based at all - there's an unequivocally correct answer in this case.

I do think that the edit helps, though, since this reflects an issue that isn't just about Amazon in particular; that being said, I personally would have just suggested the edit in the first place instead of voting to close (since that's a very easy "fix"). Editing is better than voting to close where possible.

If this really was a question specifically about Amazon, it would be off-topic and opinion-based. To quote this classic MSO post on customer support questions,

Why can't I ask customer service-related questions?

Because we don't know the answer.

Oh sure, there might be some intrepid soul who has sailed these waters before, and come out alive. They might even be able to offer some insight. There might even be the occasional employee wandering these hallowed halls. But here's the problem:

We're not Google, Facebook, Microsoft, or Apple Customer Service.

We don't set policy for these companies. We don't have telephone lines, confirmation code generators, or any authority to make decisions on your behalf. We don't track changes to policy, except by anecdote and hearsay, so any answer we give you today is going to be wrong tomorrow, if it isn't already wrong.

In general, then, the problem with company-specific regulation questions is the fact that we simply don't know the answer, we can only speculate. Also, such questions tend to be too localized (i.e. only useful to people who work for a specific company at a specific time). Finally, as the linked article goes on to explain, it really isn't our job to answer questions that the companies in question should be answering themselves.

That being said: none of the above apply in this case. It's applicable to any U.S. company where workers are considering unionizing, and we do know the answer (the accepted answer is demonstrably factually correct), and it's really not a question that Amazon should answer themselves.


Late answer, so will keep it brief:

IMO the "opinion based" rule is one that is usually straightforward on the more "hard-tech" SE sites, but the same rule creates a sizable gray area in Workplace.

Here, from what I gather, the majority of the good advice to be found is derived from personal experience. I think you could argue that, for many of the topics, authoritative references are very few, and are rarely used. (And that is fine with me, I am here for the answers of more experienced individuals, even if they are anecdotal.)

Does that mean that the intent of the opinion-based rule does not apply? No, of course it applies. There are topics that are clearly more fuel for an argument than useful. But that is a different standard than "opinion". TLDR- it takes a more judgment to apply such a rule here.

IMO this phenomenon leaves some opportunities for improvement of the user experience, from the point of view of people asking questions which (1) have answers whose value can be agreed upon (2) whose answers would benefit others.

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