I have a friend who regularly misses on schedules, even when it is about helping them out. A question on how I can get them to correct their course is perfectly acceptable on IPS.SE.

However, there is another aspect to this question. The friend has indicated, on multiple occassions, that I am a good friend to them and that they trust me a lot. This in itself is probably not suspicious, but there are a number of other factors (including the missing on schedules part) which make me suspect that their statements might not be true and they're using this to manipulate me.

I could ask a question without this context, but the answers would mostly focus on communicating this to the friend and/or setting up some protocols to avoid this situation. However, if the friend is manipulating me, all this advice would be pretty useless.

I could ask the question "is my friend manipulating me, and if not how do I get them to correct their course?" In this case, the first part would be subjective, and focused on understanding someone's behaviour.

Would such a question be considered on-topic for IPS.SE?

  • Hi there, welcome! There are 3 things I'd like to say about your question: First of all, meta may not be the right place for asking this. Meta is only here for discussing the site's rules and functioning. I'd suggest you instead post your question in the Sandbox, where people can help you form a good question. 3rd thing is thatI think it could be a good fit for this stack, once you've tuned it a bit (as you pointed out, the 1st part is off-topic for we can't figure out what your friend thinks).
    – avazula
    Aug 26, 2018 at 18:50
  • You could also try your luck in our chat, we could quickly tell you whether something is off-topic or not. You're very welcome in here, we'd be happy to help &/or invite you in our small talk practice! :)
    – avazula
    Aug 26, 2018 at 18:50
  • 2
    It's OK to ask if something would be on topic on meta @avazula :) In general, I'd say Sandbox is a good place for getting (temporary) feedback on shaping a specific post, whereas a separate post like this is fitting for a more general discussion of what's on topic or not, since we may want to refer to it in later meta discussions.
    – Em C
    Aug 26, 2018 at 20:20
  • But that aside... feel free to just go for it, OP - the help center page specifically uses understanding behavior to achieve a particular goal as an example of something on topic.
    – Em C
    Aug 26, 2018 at 20:27

1 Answer 1


I don't think questions about understanding a person's behavior are on-topic.

Take a look at this question on diagnosing. While you're not asking us to make a medical diagnosis, you're asking us to analyze a person's psychological outlook on a situation solely from your description, which feels similarly dangerous.

This reminds me of a "What should I do?" style question in that there's likely no way we can get enough information simply from your typed up question. But even if we were able to have a conversation with you in person, you would be telling the situations from your perspective. What you think was important about the situation might not be to them, and the converse is also true.

All in all, I think that just like a "What should I do?" question, we don't have enough unbiased information to give you a good answer. And from a StackExchange perspective, it would be very difficult to objectively measure which answers to a question like that are better. As such, I don't think questions of this nature would be on-topic here.

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