7 Answers 7


Provide expertise, not an opinion.

The best answers on this site don't just say 'try this' or 'I think this must work'. Explain why you think that your answer is the solution to the problem posed in the question. The best answers on a subjective StackExchange site are written to include expertise if there is no hard research data available.

If you can draw parallels to situations you've been in, and have had success using a specific approach, it makes your answer much more credible. Experience-based answers can be hard to write, but it's not impossible.

When writing an answer, explain when and under what circumstances your proposed solution worked for you. Explain how you learned the techniques or insights you're offering as a solution, why you think it's a good solution to the situation being asked about, and what effect you think the advice will have.

For more details, see: What are the citation expectations of answers on IPS Stack Exchange?


Your answer should be about the interpersonal skills needed to solve the situation.

This is a site for questions and answers to be about interpersonal skills. In short, interpersonal skills are the skills you use to communicate and interact well with people. They include things like verbal and non-verbal communication, listening skills, negotiating, convincing, de-escalating, assertiveness, setting boundaries, asserting boundaries and saying-no, amongst a lot of other things.

But once in a while, we seem to get questions where possible solutions aren't only interpersonal skills related. You could hang up cameras when someone is urinating on your wall, put a shoe rack near the front door in the hopes that people take their shoes off, or suggest people don't get in situation X the next time by doing Y.

The problem is that all of these suggestions don't help the asker solve the problem they're having with their interpersonal skills, they don't help to tell someone to stop urinating on the wall, ask people to take off their shoes when entering, or offer a solution for what someone can do when they're stuck in situation X.

Make sure your answer focuses on the interpersonal skills needed to resolve the question,


Respect the request of the person asking the question and answer the actual question.

People come here with all different sorts of questions. Of course, you may have an opinion on whatever these people plan to do. Responding to "How do I $x?" with "Doing $x is inexcusable and/or evil." is inappropriate. This is a site where we're trying to give answers to questions, not bicker over what is right and wrong. Telling someone "Don't believe that, it's wrong' isn't an answer on this stack.

Answer the actual question that is asked. If someone is asking 'People know my age online, and aren't taking me seriously because of it, how do I ask them to stop?", the answer IS NOT to tell someone not to tell their age online. That does in no way solve the problem the OP is having right now, it won't help them in this situation.

See also To what extent do we respect the OP's request? and Should we hold answers to just the question asked?


Make sure your answer contains something new.

Questions on Interpersonal Skills get a lot of answers, especially once they hit the Hot Network Questions List. This may be due to the subject nature, but there's also often overlap in what answers are proposing as a solution. Please try to avoid writing such answers.

Before you start writing an answer, please take the time to read the answers that are already posted. If you would suggest a similar method with a similar result as answers that are already posted, please think twice about posting an answer of your own, and just upvote the answer that is already there.

Please try to avoid giving someone a bunch of answers all having the exact same advice stated in a couple differing wordings of the answer text. It may feel like rubbing salt into wounds of the question asker and it may drown out other solutions to the problem. Instead, try suggesting improvements to existing answers, and use your votes to make clear which answers are useful and which are not.


Then what about those 'frame challenges'?

The idea of a 'frame challenge' is a hard concept to grasp. The idea of it was first mentioned here and the concept came from the RPG.SE site. RPG.SE has since considered dropping the usage of the term 'frame-challenge'. Instead of saying your answer is a frame-challenge, explain exactly what the problem is and why.

That means something like the answers discussed in the second part of this answer. It's okay to challenge an 'I want to tell someone to stop doing this' with an 'it's maybe better to ask instead of telling them to stop'.

It's not okay to challenge a question of 'I want to ask my co-worker to refer to me using gender-neutral pronouns' with 'Your co-worker is perfectly free to pick their own way of referring to you'. That doesn't answer the actual question asked, it in no way helps the asker.


Make clear which specifics of the question are affecting the answer you give.

Take into account future readers of the question. They will likely want to know if your answer would work for them, in a similar situation, as well.

With IPS issues in particular, most questions have very specific details that change the content of the answers. Good answers will directly address the issue the OP has given and take their specific situation into account. However, if parts of your answer are applicable in a more general case, please point it out.

Help the person asking the question and make clear where the specifics of the question are affecting the answer given. It should be clear to future readers what specific parts of the answer were due to the unique situation described in a question and/or what is just general-case advice that can be used in other situations as well.


Take note of possible cultural differences.

This is closely related to respecting the OP's request. Some things are done differently in different cultures. While telling your boss they did something wrong is okay in some cultures, in others it will get you fired. Social policing is common in The Netherlands, yet may cause an outrage in other parts of the world.

Try to understand a person's beliefs, values, and practices should on that person's own culture, rather than judge it against the criteria of another. If someone is asking about how to do something that's normal to do in their culture, answers from other cultures stating 'don't do this' aren't all that helpful.

Just like questions, make sure your answer states and explains the cultural background from which it is written. Especially if that is different from the cultural background of the question asker. See also Related Answers: Why your Pakistani answer won't always work for India, What should we do about answers based on the 'wrong' culture?.

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