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I recently asked two questions in the format of "What do I do?", and they were both either closed or on hold, so it seems as if IPS is less for open-ended questions and more for specific answers to questions. Where do I go if I want to get answers to these questions? Reddit doesn't seem like a very trustworthy place and quora is useless. Is there a better SE site?

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    For the record, you might get better responses to this question by asking it to the entire network rather than to just the users of Interpersonal Skills (who might not be as familiar with all the sites on the network). Meta.stakexchange.com has a tag for site recommendation.
    – Alex
    Mar 20 '19 at 17:31
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No, SE is a question and answer site, not an advice column. Questions asking "what do I do" are not a good fit for the Q&A format that SE implements. The reason that they are not a good fit is that they are too open ended and they invite a lot of opinions.

IPS is already one of the most subjective sites on the SE network. As a subjective site, we try to follow the guidelines for good subjective questions. There are some questions that are, unfortunately, just too subjective. Asking "what do I do" is the kind of question where almost any answer will be valid, and we don't have a good way of determining which answers are good or bad. The help center talks a bit more about what kinds of questions are good and bad for our format.

Let's talk about the questions you've asked here

The fact that we can't (and shouldn't try to) answer the questions that you've posted does not mean that we are entirely unable to help you. Your first question was How do I deal with this kid who is really creeping me out in class?. The biggest problem with this question is that it lacks a clear goal. As OldPadawan mentioned in a comment

Unfortunately, we can't tell you what to do, or make the choice for you. We can help you communicate with the teacher, the school or the guy, but it's up to you to decide what you want to achieve.

We can definitely help you with the problem that you are facing, but we need to know what your goals are for the solution. When you have those, we can certainly help you with the skills that you need in order to achieve your goal.

Your second question is How can I ask this girl out when she's giving me mixed signals (and other various obstacles)?. EmC mentioned in their comment about closing the question

I've closed for now as unclear since there's a lot of missing info about what interpersonal skills you are looking for help with - why can't you just ask her on a date in the same way as when you asked her to homecoming? What was unsuitable about that approach, and what even was that approach? You tell us about what's happened since, why does that mean you can't ask again?

From this and Upper_Case's comment underneath it, your question needs more context. Users here are having trouble answering because they don't know enough about your problem. If you add the details that you've been asked for, it would go a long way towards getting your question reopened.

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It depends on what problem you're trying to solve, but there may not be a StackExchange site for it.

  • The Workplace could advise you on what the professional thing is to do.
  • Academia could tell you what's expected in an academic environment.
  • Parenting could suggest solutions for problems involving a parental relationship.
  • Lifehacks could provide, well, "lifehacks" for solving various problems.

However, make sure to read their help pages before posting your question on any of these sites! They all have their own guidelines for what topics you can ask about. For instance, Workplace closes questions like "which of these job offers should I take?", and Lifehacks closes questions about self-improvement or personal productivity.

Unfortunately, there is no place on the network for those questions. StackExchange is built for (relatively) cut-and-dry Q&A, not the sort of back-and-forth, extended discussions that you need to make personal decisions.

Other internet forums do allow this sort of discussion and personal advice, so you could try finding a suitable one elsewhere (though I definitely encourage you to check any prospective ones out carefully before deciding to post, since quality can vary widely between communities and even boards/subreddits/etc.). Otherwise, it might be best to consult a trusted friend or family member on what to do, or seek out a professional (therapist, guidance counselor, etc.) depending on the situation.

If you're interested in reading more about why IPS has made these questions off-topic, here are the main meta posts about it:

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Ask that kind of question of specific individuals whose opinion you value.

I suggest that you not pose such questions to random strangers on the internet, regardless of the specific site or format. If you have formed an opinion of specific posters (on a personal advice forum, for example), and you feel that their advice generally aligns with your values and is trustworthy, then ask away. If you really like the advice column in some newspaper or magazine, write in to that. If you know people that you feel you can talk to and whose thoughts you trust, talk to them about it. If you think that the users on IPS.SE are good resources, chat might be a good option.

I question somewhat why you think that SE (IPS or otherwise) is so much better than Reddit or Quora for this. I happen to agree, but I don't think that IPS.SE is in any meaningful way a sufficiently trustworthy source for that kind of information. It may be better than Reddit, but I'm not sure it's good enough to mortgage your agency over.

I think that an open-ended "what should I do?" question is fundamentally difficult to form and answer, and requesting only the conclusion is the hardest way to express the relevant information and determine the value of an answer.

It might be easy to understand your goal, but it's very difficult to work out what values are most important to you in pursuing a goal, what things you are or are not comfortable doing, how well you can pull off some specific strategy, how well you can improvise when unexpected circumstances arise, and how unexpected circumstances change the situation (and possibly any advice already given). People that know you personally, or can at least have some back-and-forth dialogue with you, can probably fill in at least some of those gaps, but I'm not aware of any SE site that can do so. The SE format was just not designed to gather or account for that depth of information in such an open-ended context.

Finding someone you trust and are comfortable talking with is difficult (really, I sympathize). But turning to random strangers on a website doesn't really solve that, it just smooths out some of the more trivial, mechanical details.

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    I think instead that Reddit may be better than us for an open ended question. It's much easier to delve through top level answers, and the replies under them can be branching and are not likely to be deleted allowing for further clarification and discussion.
    – Philbo
    Mar 21 '19 at 9:40

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