Within the next couple of weeks we are likely to have moderators who can edit the various parts of the site, including our "On Topic" page and our three custom "off topic" close reasons.

In our time here so far, we've started to make some headway in defining this site. This "On Topic" page is a great place to put simple directives of what is and is not topical for this site, tips for writing good questions and answers, and links to the relevant meta questions of each. This page can also be a good place for basic site policy that we want to be easily found. For reference, take a peek at the similar page on The Workplace and on Parenting - I've chosen these two because they have excellent pages and they have similar types of questions. These two sites have formatted the pages quite differently, so we can work out that part too...

So, in this post I'd like to ask our users to use one answer per line item for the on topic and off topic subjects. Once we've given these some time, we can create a "draft" post for the actual page and decide how it looks from there (example).

We did this on Arts & Crafts, which I stole from Seasoned Advice, so this is how it works:

Since this is one of the 7 Essential Meta Questions of Every Beta...

What should go in our FAQ?

Most of the FAQ is boilerplate, but we need to determine the on-topic and off-topic subjects that go into that particular section of the official FAQ. Those should be derived from the original site definition and the current set of questions.

Example template:

Following the example set out in the linked page, the section being discussed here might look like this:

{Site Name} is for questions about traditional artwork and handmade items.

If your question is about:

  • {On-topic subject}
  • {On-topic subject}
  • ...

and it is not about:

  • {Off-topic subject}
  • {Off-topic subject}
  • {Off-topic subject}

… then you're in the right place to ask your question!

Answer format:

Please post one subject and specify whether or not it is an on-topic or off-topic subject or a general guideline. Note that your answer should not be in the form of a specific example question; it should refer to an entire subject group. Example of such a response:


Questions asking for medical mental health advice.

(Optional comments/link to relevant Meta discussion)

Please vote up answers if you agree with the proposed on-topic/off-topic status. Vote down answers where you disagree.

Please don't use this topic to discuss whether something is on topic or not - create a Meta discussion about it first and when the decision seems clear, bring it here for final voting.

Also remember that this page can be edited. We don't have to get it perfectly the first time, we just want to get it set up to help the people coming here find the useful links to meta discussions that we've already had.

  • 1
    I'm a little bit confused as to why this has received three down votes. Is there some issues with the question, or is it other things that we need to address?
    – Zizouz212
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 3:41
  • 1
    @Zizouz212 my guess is that people think this is premature. The expectations for questions on this site are still evolving.
    – user288
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 21:01
  • 1
    @Hamlet How is it premature to ask for people to start compiling the things we've already decided in one place for reference. I noted in the question that this isn't fixed in stone... anything is preferable to the generic help center text.
    – Catija
    Commented Aug 3, 2017 at 21:04

13 Answers 13



Questions about interactions on the Stack Exchange network

Interpersonal Skills is not the "court of public opinion" of Stack Exchange.

If you have a serious grievance with the users, moderators, or community managers on this site or any other site in the network, that needs to be voiced (preferably in a calm and open manner) on the child meta of the site the issue relates to if it's a single-site issue or on Meta Stack Exchange if it's a broader network-wide issue. You should also feel welcome to use the "contact us" link at the bottom of any page (at the top right corner of the footer) if you feel that only a community manager can address your issue. If you have already done this and disagree with the outcome, keep contacting them. Bringing it here is inappropriate. - @Catija

Users should ask these questions on Meta Stack Exchange or on the child meta of the site they are using.

Sourced from this answer to this question.


On topic:

Questions about using or understanding social interactions to resolve problems or preventing them from occurring. This can also include fields covered on other Stack Exchange sites, for instance, a question about social interaction at work is okay, but only if the social element is the core focus of the question and not a side element.


We have a lot of talk about differentiation. Does this belong on IPS or the Workplace? Does this belong on IPS or Academia? I propose that we draw the line that such questions are allowed, but if and only if the social interaction is the crux of the issue or question, so that the answers can address the problems from a social standpoint.

  • "using or understanding social interactions to resolve problems or preventing them from occurring." would make the waitress question on-topic... :/
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 10:55

Off Topic:

Questions that are only asking for specific wordings/arguments, for lists of possible replies or formulation of an e-mail/letter/note.

We're not here to put words in the mouths of users. Parroting a random internet stranger isn't an improvement of your interpersonal skills.

These questions are no more than list questions, those generally aren't a good fit for StackExchange questions anyway.

For example:

See also these meta posts:


Off Topic:

Questions that lack a clear goal we can address.

Related meta.

We need to know what outcome an OP is expecting. We need to know what part of their Interpersonal skills they want help with and what their preferred outcome of the situation is. For example: does an OP want to apologize or assert that they are standing behind what they did? If we don't know, their will be answers to either question (how to apologize, how to stand my ground).


Nicked from the Help Center of Workplace.se:

Off Topic:

Questions that aren't a good fit for the Stack Exchange format (see also Good Subjective, Bad Subjective for information on how to ask a subjective question suitable for the Stack Exchange format)

I think this closely ties in with the 'rules' as discussed in Differentiating on and off topic - How?.

All questions here will be subjective/opinion based, but:


{On Topic}

Questions about [specific/formal] etiquette

Questions about the unwritten, but well-established and expected, rules or conventions of behavior in a specific setting. This may include broad social expectations in a particular culture or more specific etiquette such as the workplace in a specific industry and country. Be sure to specify your setting with appropriate location tags and other relevant context!

Rationale: We already have an etiquette tag, with some guiding info. Knowing what behavior is likely to be expected in general, and what kinds of consequences might follow a breach of that expected behavior, is often an important first step in knowing how specifically to act (and sometimes, it's the crux of an OP's question).

Meta discussions in the past have seemed to conclude that questions asking for the particular etiquette in a given setting are a good fit here. For example:

AJ's answer to "Courtesy and Etiquette: Can we make the difference clearer or synonymize them?" arguing that etiquette is a distinct concept. This question also links to several questions with this tag (all of which are still open, a few very highly up-voted).

User 288's question "Let's clean up rudeness, politeness, etiquette, and courtesy" suggesting that these be collapsed into two tags, and .

Moreover, responses to r m's question "Would questions on reasons and origins be on topic?" suggest that how a particular instance of etiquette arose would be on-topic as well as what the etiquette is for a particular situation.

I note that some questions with this topic would inevitably overlap with questions on other sites, e.g. "what is the proper way to greet a new business associate when visiting in Japan" could probably be asked on Travel.SE or Workplace.SE (or even Academia.SE, if the business associate is an academic), but I think they are still appropriate here.


Not sure how this would fit in with the page format, but it's probably worth adding something about including location/cultural data, given how many people forget to do this.



Questions asking to define certain terms, e.g. "what are core values?"

See: Is asking for a definition or a general perception in matters of interpersonal relationships on topic?

Also the reverse is offtopic, e.g. "what's the term for a person behaving in a so and so manner to my message?"

We are not here to define things, and we are not here to answer word requests either. There are other very active sites within our network better suited for that purpose.

Our mission should be to help people navigate through tough life situations when interacting with other people, to resolve interpersonal conflicts etc.

  • 1
    We're not here to define things in general, but every field has its jargon and terminology, and questions about that should be allowed here. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 5:04
  • @curiousdannii I'm listening. What kind of questions? Can you provide an example?
    – NVZ
    Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 5:11
  • 2
    See this previous discussion. I think questions like "what does neurotypical mean?" or "what is gas-lighting?" could have a place here. Depending on how exactly they are asked. "This page with communication advice for those with autism keeps taking about 'neurotypical' people, what does that mean?" I think that could be acceptable. Commented Aug 1, 2017 at 5:14


Questions asking about public speaking

As defined by:

  • Speaking techniques (wide range included here - audience engagement, confidence in front of audience, etc)
  • Asking about how an audience would respond to a certain statement, or something like that (but the actual act of writing I would say is off-topic)

Note: there is a "Public Speaking" proposal lurking around on Area 51 - it hasn't got very far yet though.

Sourced from this answer to this question.

  • 3
    The "how to ask page" is supposed to be for general advice. Public speaking questions will probably make up a small portion of the questions this site receives, so it doesn't make sense to include them in the "how to ask page".
    – user288
    Commented Aug 2, 2017 at 17:38

On Topic:

  • Skills required to navigate a situation
  • "How to approach"
  • "How to avoid conflict"
  • "When to discuss"
  • "What is appropriate"

Off Topic:

  • Raltionship difficulties (unless addressed above)

  • Rants

  • Politics

  • Anything where the question is accusatory of someone "My boss is a xxx-ist...."

  • Purely opinion based questions

  • "Dear abby" style advice questions.

  • Anything that's pure opinion

  • "Moral dilemma" type questions.

  • 1
    It would be nice if you could link to some meta posts as a back up for these rules. So we can see where they were discussed and where the 'consensus' on them is. If they aren't yet discussed, make a meta! :-)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 13:23
  • @Tinkeringbell these are more or less guidelines that we use at TWP to avoid problems. We have a good deal many of the same issues there
    – user4548
    Commented Nov 14, 2017 at 14:26

Off topic:

Questions that require more help than we can provide. Questions that go beyond the tools we use to interact with other people on a day-to-day basis and require the assistance of licensed professionals (therapists, physicians, lawyers, etc).

Related meta posts:

  • 2
    I'm not sure if this should be on the off-topic help page, it might scare people off who we can help. (Because it's not obvious whether your question is beyond our capacity.) Better to ask and have it closed than to not ask IMO. But then, few people read the help pages anyway... Commented Nov 15, 2017 at 2:28

Off-topic: Questions asking for help to make a moral/ethical decision

One recent example. This has perhaps since been brought on-topic by editing it to ask what is common, but it's still a problematic subject area.

Decide what you think is the right course of action, then come to us to ask the best way to go about doing it.

  • Hmmm.. this might be better off if you link the the relevant metas: nr.1, nr.2 instead of 1 specific question? (And if you make a meta to discuss that question, the conclusion there can be included as well)
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 13:20
  • @Tinkeringbell Feel free to do so if you so choose. Or feel free to argue that moral decisions should be on-topic if you so choose. But my understanding is that such questions have never been considered on-topic here, and I don't feel the need to put forward a case when I haven't seen anyone disagreeing. Commented Nov 21, 2017 at 13:25


Questions asking to define certain terms, e.g. "what are core values?"

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