One of my questions was just closed with a somewhat questionable custom close reason:

I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it sounds like you've spoken to him about it a few times already, at which point it's no longer a Interpersonal Skills issue (of how to discuss it with him), but rather a The Workplace and/or legal one (of what options or obligations you and he have).

It seems like this reason for closing is a little thin. Many of our questions on this site reach the site after the OP has tried to resolve the issue and failed, and I think we've established, with roughly 100 questions tagged , that questions stemming from workplace situations aren't inherently off-topic.

I think the question was largely judged the way it was because I also self-answered and that answer focused on explaining possible legal consequences. It's worth pointing out that answers don't make questions off-topic, questions and answers should be judged independently. Even if you feel that it being a self-answer changes how the question should be judged, explaining potential worst case scenarios could be a valuable last-resort interpersonal skill.

So, should this question be re-opened?

3 Answers 3


As one of those who originally voted to close it, I'm ready to receive a public beating, but please hear me out first.

Flater wrote a comment, that covers it excellently and is worth being presevered here:

I would argue that this is not a matter of interpersonal skill. Workplace rules are in place regardless of how you feel about them. Your supervisor's opinion means nothing in regards to justifying him bending or breaking the rules. This isn't a matter of kindly communicating, this is a matter of pointing out the sword of Damocles, i.e. the consequences from failing to follow the rule.

In this case, the OP had the authorities on their side:

[...] safety policies, procedures, and maintaining safety equipment.

I've approached my supervisor's boss already, and the response was to roll out stricter policies, [...].

And what the OP describes is a very serious situation:

This attitude has repeatedly put customers and staff in very real danger of serious bodily injury.

We've already had a few major incidents where things went really wrong [...].

In this case, an IPS approach appears to me to be by far too slow. Lives are potentially at stake (it's about boating safety) and the OP's supervisor's feelings or opinions do not matter at all. It's the severity of the situation, that made me wonder, whether it was suitable for IPS.SE. I decided against it, thinking of the "needs professional help"-questions, where a bunch of Internet strangers is also out of their depth.

Just because a question is about the OP's workplace doesn't mean it needs to be closed. But there is, at least in my opinion, a fundamental difference between something like "How do I reconcile with my co-worker after an argument?", that you could post on either site, and a question like this, where safety measures are not put in place, lives are endangered, and the OP has the backing of the authorities.

  • 1
    I see your point here, but communicating dire information is a worthwhile interpersonal skill. The ability to convey "don't do the dangerous thing" in a way that it actually registers and makes someone think before doing it is an interpersonal skill if I'm not mistaken.
    – apaul
    Nov 1, 2017 at 2:49
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    @apaul While only IPS are on-topic on IPS.SE, not all IPS-related questions are on-topic, e. g. take the questions involving suicidality, that are clearly beyond our scope (although there are a lot of IPS involved in that topic). In this case, I felt that the question crossed that border. I do believe that it is a borderline case, but I'm not saying that my decision, my feelings and my reasoning are necessarily the (only) correct ones and if other people disagree with me, that's fine. I just hope that explaining my motivation for VTC is helpful in this case (and maybe also in the future). Nov 1, 2017 at 7:51

Yes it should be reopened.

See this discussion on the broader topic. My comment on your question suggested that you might get a better answer on the Workplace, but wasn't meant to say it was off-topic here. I think some people might have interpreted it as such.


I don't agree with this Sword of Damocles business and either the hands of fate or the government with clipboards "causing safety". Safety isn't stuff.

Every company has a safety culture. There's a big reason Norfolk Southern wins the safety award every year, and CSX never does.

The massive $500M scramble rebuild of the Oroville Dam spillway got done, 700,000 man-hours of work, with zero injuries. That is completely insane, normally projects like this have a body count. Kiewit is unique. That, my friends, is safety.

My point is, safety is a culture, and it's about people, and specifically it's about interpersonal skills super especially because CRM is the dominant factor in safety culture.

So yes, it's very, very, very IPX, at least until a CRM stack exchange happens.

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