9

I've read the discussions about being more inclusive etc. and I have impression that they are quite disconnected from the reality. Because those apparently marginalized groups are doing quite well. And their point of view is very well represented.

However, there's the Silent Majority. People, who are poorly educated. People, who are not assertive. People, who have average or poor communication skills. People, who copy/paste motivation letter from the internet, because otherwise they'd have to write 'I want to work for you because I hope you will pay me'. People, who can't afford to polish their CV, because their situation is more likely to worsen than to improve if they start looking for the new job.

However, a typical highly upvoted answer is base on the memes of the upper-middle class.

Polish your CV, although the undeniable proof of the existence of God is the fact that you have somehow managed to get hired, and you don't want to put your faith on trial again.

Make HR your enemy, although they are usually the only people in company that know what empathy is without looking up in wikipedia.

If we look up on the answers from the point of view of average person, and not the highly educated big city elite, how appropriate they would be?

3
  • 4
    I think hot-questions contribute to this issue. Questions going to network wide sidebar inevitably attract hundreds visitors from Stack Overflow, many of them are additionally armed with association bonus allowing them upvote what they like. These folks are typically programmers, reasonably well educated and paid, enjoying high demand in the job market. Guess what kind of answers do they upvote and what perspectives they like better, guess whether they care about anything but being entertained
    – gnat
    Jun 11 at 16:54
  • 2
    Can you list some examples? I would agree that this silent majority is under-represented in questions, but I have no examples of actually misleading answers. Personally I always try to present options, not tell people which to take, because both "just endure it" and "just quit" are not answers. The OP might be forced to take one or the other based on external circumstances though.
    – nvoigt
    Jun 17 at 6:21
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    "If we look up on the answers from the point of view of average person, and not the highly educated big city elite, how appropriate they would be?" - if the write of the question expresses, the types of answer preferred (locale, country, domain, etc), they usually get them. Otherwise, the writes of answers have no reference point, and so tend to write what they know. Jun 22 at 1:34
18

We definitely have a challenge here on Workplace with

  1. People not well specifying their country, job type, and so on in questions
  2. People not able to understand their context is not universal when they answer

As a result, since we have a lot of middle class techies here, people tend to get middle class techie answers. Some of these answers aren't just wrong, they are dangerous and inappropriate for people working retail, or in countries with high unemployment, and so on where work norms differ substantially. Add to this the general Internet Tough Guy syndrome leading answerers to often just reply to any issue someone wants help navigating with “Red flag! Quit! Tell them to stuff it!” (which assume someone is privileged enough to get new employment immediately or can easily get by without it) and you get low quality answers.

The general SE answer to this on other sites is to ask querents to add the relevant contextual info and put questions on hold until it’s there, and then hold answers to the network-wide guidance of the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective criteria including the Back It Up! guideline, which in short says that between “objective” questions and “opinion” questions are "expertise" questions - and answers to expertise questions are useful when they demonstrate their expertise in that specific field and situation. “I have worked as a retail manager and...”; “When I was in that situation this is what I did and how it turned out...”. And then downvote answers that are just someone talking out of their butt - "Well, I am a worker who has never managed but I think I'm smart so of course I can tell you about this management technique...".

I don't agree with the lede in the question about there being no problem with marginalized people being well served here (in fact, the exact same syndrome where people give largely privileged-middle-class-techie answers because that's their only context means they also largely give privileged-white-European-male answers that don't work for other contexts), but it's not an "either-or" in terms of only one group can be well served or not by the answers here. In all cases, Good Subjective, Bad Subjective helps us get good answers and not subjective and useless-to-harmful opinions.

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    The problem of people answering without fully understanding that their personal context is so far removed from the author’s their advice isn’t really helpful happens across the network. People don’t know what they don’t know, so in addition to voting on content it’s also helpful when people who can see the disconnect constructively point it out. It’s unfortunate that so many people seem to view closing a question as a soft deletion instead of as a way to put it on hold while we get the information we need to answer it well.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 10 at 14:04
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    @ColleenV "so many people seem to view closing a question as a soft deletion instead of as a way to put it on hold while we get the information" — that's an excellent point: it would perhaps be very worth a meta.SE question / feature-request to rename the thing as such, or to create a variant of it for this purpose; so that people would get it right.
    – Levente
    Jun 10 at 16:57
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    SE did an experiment where closed was renamed to on hold (I was a mod on RPG.SE when it ran) but they eventually discontinued it because people didn’t get any less crabby about it (not sure how they measured that, but it’s what we were told).
    – mxyzplk
    Jun 10 at 18:24
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    You don't have "lots of middle class techies" here. You have "lots of middle class North American techies. And it's only when you meet some of them who have been forced to move out of their own back yards that you discover just how parochial they really are. (I've met US college graduates on their first trip to the UK who are amazed to discover that the UK has McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Nike trainers, etc - not to mention iPhones - available everywhere. Hard to believe just how little they knew about the world, if I hadn't seen the level of ignorance at first hand.
    – alephzero
    Jun 23 at 3:13
  • 1
    @alephzero well, that's easily the most offensive stereotyping bigotry I've seen in quite some time. The number 2 poster in the workplace is not an american, nor is he white. The #3 of all time is from a blue collar, and multiethnic background as well. Jun 23 at 4:12
  • You are once again trying to push folks to the margins by trying to create a tempest in a teapot. Jun 23 at 4:14
  • @ColleenV a close is a soft delete, and a very lazy move. An edit, without editorializing is ideal Jun 23 at 5:10
  • 1
    @Old_Lamplighter Yes, the reality is that closures are usually permanent. Edits can only do so much though, until someone invents a way to read someone’s mind over the internet. Omission of key facts can lead answers down a particular path and after the path has been trod, it’s difficult to get the question back on track.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 23 at 13:11
  • @alephzero You seem very ignorant of what most middle class ‘techie’ Americans are like. We had someone transfer from CA to TX who was surprised our company cafe served espresso. Ignorant people who assume stereotypes about places they’ve never been and people they’ve never met are true can be found in every corner of the world, including the UK apparently.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 23 at 13:20
  • @ColleenV Well, I have a few lifeboat and lifejacket badges, so t is nit really that hard. All one needs to do is put in some effort. I flipped one question from -9 to +50, not every one, but a good trim can do wonders Jun 23 at 15:20
  • @Old_Lamplighter I’ve done my share of salvage edits on ELL, so I’m not arguing with you. Sometimes though the only person who can save a question is the author.
    – ColleenV
    Jun 24 at 12:38
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    @ColleenV I'm not arguing with you either. My pet peeve is just the rush to close posts when the only problem is a non native English speaker, or a good post with a rant that needs to be removed, Some are just gibberish and are rightly closed Jun 24 at 13:24
0

I've read the discussions about being more inclusive etc. and I have impression that they are quite disconnected from the reality. Because those apparently marginalized groups are doing quite well. And their point of view is very well represented.

Absolutely agree.

However, there's the Silent Majority. People, who are poorly educated. People, who are not assertive. People, who have average or poor communication skills. People, who copy/paste motivation letter from the internet, because otherwise they'd have to write 'I want to work for you because I hope you will pay me'. People, who can't afford to polish their CV, because their situation is more likely to worsen than to improve if they start looking for the new job.

To use your example of a CV, I think many people would be advised to use a template. In any case, I have seen some frankly horrible answers involving suggestions people should be overly assertive, which may work for the person answering, but may completely backfire, and backfire horribly for the OP.

However, a typical highly upvoted answer is base on the memes of the upper-middle class.

Polish your CV, although the undeniable proof of the existence of God is the fact that you have somehow managed to get hired, and you don't want to put your faith on trial again.

I absolutely absolutely agree that a lot of people here are very quick to declare red flags, and indicate people should leave their jobs, or even walk out of interviews for even the slightest aggrivation. I would also say it in much stronger language. It borders on extreme arrogance in some cases.

A slightly more charitable interpretation is that polishing off your CV means to keep it ready, and be able to apply for jobs at a moments notice.

Make HR your enemy, although they are usually the only people in company that know what empathy is without looking up in wikipedia.

I disagree with you here. Though you should not make anybody your enemy. Yo have to be realistic about what motivates people, and for HR, they have a job to do. That's the simple reality. It does not involve being empathetic any more than any other employee of the business. That's just the reality.

If we look up on the answers from the point of view of average person, and not the highly educated big city elite, how appropriate they would be?

It would be highly appropriate.

-3

Yes, we do have a problem where many answers are based on very specific circumstances.

In plenty of cases answers make assumptions that may not correspond to the circumstances of the asker, never mind the circumstances of anyone else reading the answer. Even when the answer is based on the specifics stated in the question, that's often still not a huge improvement.

We are supposed to be a Q&A that provides value to more than just the asker.

If different circumstances would lead to different recommendations for the same basic question, answers should mention the different possible circumstances and each corresponding recommendation.


To address points raised in another answer:

I disagree that we should try to put all circumstantial information into a question (as opposed to addressing the different possibilities in answers) and close those that are missing some information. That just limits the value of the question and answers and pushes us away from what a Q&A is, in the sense that no-one will find answers to their questions through Google here and we will have no real duplicates (because every question and answer would be too full of situation-specific details to be helpful to anyone else who has "the same" question). This is already mostly where we're at though.

I disagree with the idea that only someone who's been in pretty much the exact same situation may post an answer for reasons I detailed in an answer I posted some time ago on Interpersonal SE Meta.


Lower class people are exactly who should be cautious about taking things to HR (but no reasonable person would say you should "make them your enemy"). If you're in an in-demand field earning 6 figures and you can have another similar job in a few hours, if you really need one, putting some misplaced trust in HR shouldn't be a particularly huge issue (and in such cases HR is probably more likely to be trustable anyway). For some low-level employee whose employer doesn't care much about them and who really needs to keep their job, having them trust a company representative to act in their best interest can be disastrous.

"The silent majority" is a politically charged term and I assume you used that just to give your post a more catchy title / make it more controversial, but I'll just ignore that.

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