TLDR: None of the topics mentioned in the question are off-topic per definition. The bickering about these topics, including bickering about answers and edits, IS.
It is, most emphatically, NOT a site chartered to discuss any of the following:
- Human sexuality
- Neurolinguistic programming
- How to win friends and influence people
- General discussion
This statement wasn't made to tell us what was off/on topic, with regards to topics. The statement includes some examples of topics that tend to raise debates when mentioned in a post.
We're not here to answer
Is this remark racist?
This probably falls under 'general discussion'. Here's a statement, now fight! I'll accept the answer that confirms my own views. There isn't an Interpersonal problem here that needs to be solved.
Such questions will lead to debate right away, and are hightly opinion based. Close these questions as opinion based or off-topic, whether or not something is racist isn't an interpersonal skill.
We can answer
Someone told me my reply to the street vendor was rude. How do I appropriately dismiss a street vendor?
We're not here to discus whether the reply was really rude. We're here to give answers that provide alternative means of dismissing a street vendor.
That doesn't mean questions touching any of these topics mentioned above are per definition off-topic here. It does mean that we need to move on to what was said in the second half of that list of rules:
If you do want a site for Q&A on interpersonal communications, then you must be willing to help build it.
- Editing questions to ensure they are within that scope
- Answering questions that fall within that scope such that the asker and future readers have the tools needed to solve their current and future communications problems
- Editing answers that stray from that goal
- Leaving comments that prompt the askers to clarify their questions and answerers to focus their answers
- Flagging and/or deleting questions or answers that cannot be salvaged by editing.
- Discussing problems that you cannot solve on your own with other members of the site so as to arrive at a solution that can be collaboratively implemented.
It does NOT mean:
- expecting to always be right
- asserting that you are always right
- refusing to accept that the rules apply to you as they do to everyone else
- refusing to accept the outcome of a discussion when it would prevent you from doing or saying whatever you might want to do or say in a given moment
- throwing out unsubstantiated accusations or otherwise tying up the time of other members of the site that could better be used doing one of the things listed above.
Again, if anyone reading this cannot accept that... Quit.
As I've said before, these 'rules' aren't about whats on-/off topic here. It's about what we need from the community to avoid a total derailment of the site.
IPS questions are in general pretty popular. Last week, I think I saw at least 4 questions in HNQ the entire week. But, these are also the sort of questions were a certain degree of bickering over answers/comments took place. They attract some 'disaster tourism'. The ones that have the most arguments or offer the best opportunity for people to voice their opinion on the matter stay in HNQ for a very long time. This one was there for about 2 weeks if I recall correctly.
Take a look at the comments there. They are exactly the kind of thing Shog was warning us about: Arguing about the wording of an answer. Is it victim blaming or not?
- Neither user is the OP of the answer.
- We shouldn't be bickering about victim blaming here.
- We should be focusing on helping the OP find some Interpersonal Skill she can use while in a pool, out of the lifeguards reach and being harassed by another swimmer.
If we think a should would read better as a could, that might be pointed out in a comment. That is 'suggesting an improvement'. Starting a comment thread arguing on the OP's behalf whether or not they meant to actually do victim blaming IS NOT OKAY HERE!
Even better would be to edit it in right away, and explain in the editing message to the OP why you have done so. This will avoid a lot of bickering, because other people than the OP of an answer are much less likely to get involved!
If there was bickering, and someone did an edit and the bickering stopped, don't run to reverse the edit. Accept that the post in its original form wasn't the best fit for a Q&A forum.
We will have to start living by these rules Shog set out, whether we like it or not.
- If that means being even more strict on our questions and answers, so be it.
- If that means no more questions in HNQ because they aren't 'controversial' enough for disaster tourists, so be it.
- If that means removing all comment threads and pointing our new users to Shog's rules when they ask 'why was my post removed', so be it.
- If that means we should make some serious work of our Help Center text ASAP, so be it.
So how can we distinguish off topic questions from on topic questions with general settings like relationships or friendships? Where do we draw the line? How do we draw the line here?
- Questions about interactions taking place within these general settings are okay. Example: "How do I disclose to a friend that I'm LGBT+?" is a good question. But so is "How do I tell my friend I'm not comfortable hanging out with him anymore, now that I know he is LGBT+?"
- Answers to these questions should focus on the interpersonal aspect of these questions: "How to tell a friend". Not on whether or not the OP has a right to be LGBT+ or if the OP has a right to be uncomfortable.
- As for relationships: No asking who should I date, is this person flirting or not, do I break up. What is a good thing to ask is 'When and how do I disclose I earn a lot of money to my boyfriend'.
If we're getting questions of the good variety, LIVE UP TO THE RULES!. As a community, we can ensure that no disaster tourist get their daily dose of kick here on IPS.
If we're getting questions on the bad variety, LIVE UP TO THE RULES!. Close them and add a comment that offers an explanation of how the post should be improved. Feel free to edit it yourself if you think you can. I'll be dropping of another answer on this soon on Let's start working on our help center "what to ask" text!