IPS has been, and continues to be overrun with questions asking for advice on personal problems, not personal skills.

This most recent example is all about trying to get his GF to believe that he regrets something. Now, I'm not saying that we should close all questions that contain interpersonal problems, or those that can be edited into something on topic.

The problem is that the people here will try to answer if they feel they can help, thus perpetuating the stream of "dear abby" style questions.

That said:

Should we be more aggressive in closing questions that ask for personal advice as opposed to IPS advice?

  • 6
    I'm a pretty new user here and it confuses me how explicitly skills must be invoked. From the "What topics can I ask about here?" page, it's not 100% clear that "Dear Abby" style questions are off-topic. (They meet the first of the "on-topic" criteria.) I've just read this meta post about on/off-topic, yet it would help if answers here offer a SHORT answer about why these questions are off-topic &/or what more is needed. May 7 '18 at 21:33
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    @cactus_pardner An important part from that first criteria is "with a specific goal in mind" - a lot of the bad questions here are just "Here's a story, what should I do". This meta post is often used as a reference for why we close questions like that.
    – Em C
    May 7 '18 at 21:43
  • 3
    The community is already pretty aggressive about closing these, what more are you asking for?
    – apaul
    May 8 '18 at 1:07
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    @apaul Oh, they're not aggressive at all.
    – user4548
    May 8 '18 at 1:19
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    The one you linked to was closed in an hour?
    – apaul
    May 8 '18 at 1:20
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    this is gonna be a repeat of Stack Overflow at this point ^^
    – L_Church
    May 8 '18 at 13:26
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    @apaul yes, and I led the charge. That's the point, it can be done, and done quickly
    – user4548
    May 9 '18 at 13:48
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    As if IPS wasn't already enough aggressive when it come to closing questions !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    – user14435
    May 16 '18 at 0:24

I think it's time to add a stack specific close reason for "dear Abby" questions, also known as "what should I do?" questions.

This will make it both easier to close and clearer that they should be closed.


I'm not sure how "dear Abby" questions are meaningfully different from "what should I do?" questions, and we already close those. They're generally too broad and opinion based to be answered well and most don't really have clear goals.

I'm not sure how we could close them more aggressively ... Unless you really want to push the close vote button harder? I mean you can totally do that if it helps, it's your mouse or touch screen, you can push it as hard as you like.

  • Isn't "dear Abby" just another (better?) name for "what should I do" questions?
    – SQB
    May 14 '18 at 9:11
  • @SQB That's kind of what I was pointing out. I wouldn't say "better" as I would guess that "dear Abby" is a western colloquialism.
    – apaul
    May 14 '18 at 16:39
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    Specifically USA, I think. Perhaps English speaking. I (Dutch) know the type of article, but the name isn't used in The Netherlands.
    – SQB
    May 14 '18 at 17:10

Definitely not, I believe the current approach to put a question on hold and ask the poster to be specific about what they want to do so people can offer actual IPSkill knowledge is already the best method.

To reduce frustration and churn rate we could have some canned advice prepared to educate users on how to structure a question. The welcome page is too broad and general on how to use a SE site, not on how to address IPS.

I myself learned a lot by going through that process, and otherwise I wouldn't have had any help. And likewise I've been able to help other people who seemed initially clueless and they might be able to help me/us later. I've noticed many of those questions are simply poorly written but once you pass that introductory phase, more people can contribute to this site.

  • 2
    Yes close/on hold is the same thing, and that is the purpose of closing a question. Should we be more aggressive than we are?
    – user4548
    May 9 '18 at 19:01
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    Oh, definitely not. We should be more helpful, probably have some canned advice prepared to educate users on how to structure a question. The welcome page is too broad and general on how to use a SE site, not on how to address IPS.
    – J A
    May 9 '18 at 19:03
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    Well, that's what I mean. If a poorly asked question is left open, it will confuse new users.
    – user4548
    May 9 '18 at 19:11

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