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On this site, we get a lot of users who ask questions that are considered too subjective under our model (i.e. closed as "primarily opinion-based" or off-topic with the "what should I do" sub-reason, which mentions being "too subjective" as a specific concern). Most of them are totally new users who discover our site via search engines (a good thing!) and assume that this site is just like one of the many other forum sites on the Internet (which more often than not, accept such subjective questions).

I've seen some users rant externally about this site about having a bad experience, our community "not being inclusive enough", "considering my question bad", or "closing basic questions", when all they did was ask a question that would often be accepted on such a forum but was considered too subjective here.

Often, on other per-site metas, there are posts that go above and beyond the help center pages to describe things to new users (e.g. this one for Stack Overflow). I was thinking that, in a similar vein, we should create such a meta post, explaining to users who have asked such questions that it's not that we didn't like your question or anything, we just have stricter rules than most sites since we are a Q&A site and we just considered your question to not be in compliance with said rules. It could possibly also have a list of links to other alternative sites where they can get their issue addressed. Overall, it would provide a helpful reference point in comments, which can only say so much.

What do you think?

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    We already have a faq who link to "How do I write a good question?". How do you think that is not enough?
    – Ael
    May 9 '19 at 8:38
  • @Ælis It doesn't really have specific advice as to how users who have already posted a question that was deemed too subjective, and how they can improve it.
    – gparyani
    May 9 '19 at 9:30
  • So, are you suggesting a "what should I do if my question is closed" faq?
    – Ael
    May 9 '19 at 9:31
  • @Ælis Yes, pretty much. Specifically, closed as being too subjective.
    – gparyani
    May 9 '19 at 9:34
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TL;DR: While we could write a FAQ post on questions that are on-hold, I don't think we should make a canonical meta post with the contents you describe here, with the terminology you use here and use it for the reasons you describe here.


On this site, we get a lot of users who ask questions that are considered too subjective under our model. see revision 1

This one is not really true. Looking at the question closure statistics, most questions aren't too subjective, instead, they are not about Interpersonal Skills at all (off-topic) or are not detailed/clear enough to be answered (unclear/too broad).

Yes, pretty much. Specifically, closed as being too subjective.

We don't even have a reason to close question as 'too subjective', the closest one is probably called 'primarily opinion-based'. Turning the example that you picked from MSO into something only for those questions closed as primarily opinion-based would make such a post a lot less useful. The one on SO can be used for any kind of closed question, we should attempt to do the same.

Most of them are totally new users who discover our site via search engines (a good thing!) and assume that this site is just like one of the many other forum sites on the Internet (which more often than not, accept such subjective questions).

I'd like to point out that this is an assumption which is assuming those people are assuming this site is a forum. While it may be a logical conclusion, we don't have any data on it. Always be careful when doing this, you might offend people by assuming they assumed something, instead of thinking that they might have very well done their research and noted the difference. So we should not let a meta post on question closure reflect that.

I've seen some users rant externally about this site about having a bad experience, our community "not being inclusive enough", "considering my question bad", or "closing basic questions", when all they did was ask a question that would often be accepted on such a forum but was considered too subjective here.

People rant externally, and people are happy with IPS externally too. The post you link from on MSO is from 2014. I don't think it has done much to ameliorate question closures there: People still rant externally about having their question closed on SO. So please don't think having a FAQ post on closed questions would help remedy people mentioning their closed questions externally.

Secondly, as I said before, the question these people are complaining about wasn't too subjective, as there's no such close reason. Note that the MSO post also isn't focused on questions closed for just a single reason.

It could possibly also have a list of links to other alternative sites where they can get their issue addressed.

The only site I know that has such a list is RPG. And they have theirs in a separate post, not dumped in with the information on what it means when a question is on-hold. I also don't know if there are any respectable communities for IPS, similar to those RPG links. In my opinion, it doesn't help much to dump users on any other forum if it's not specifically about IPS.


Instead, we might better just have one because it's generally useful reference material for people, a thing we can point people to when they're asking a question on IPS that is closed (no matter for what reason) and they seem confused about it.

We should not make it about a specific reason for closure, and we should not combine it with a list of other forums, if there are any good forums on Interpersonal Skills out there, we might combine another FAQ entry like the one RPG has, but not dump it in with a post that generally outlines what it means when a question is on-hold.

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    I agree with your overall perspective, but I have a few corrections and clarifications: 1. While it might not be the case that we get as many subjective questions as I initially thought, we still do get a lot, so maybe we should have one for this case. 2. By "too subjective", I was referring to two close reasons: POB and OT, "what should I do" (which clearly uses the words "too subjective"). I also wasn't specifically referring to a "too subjective" physical close reason, just that they're considered that. (skip to) 4. The 2014 post on MSO was actually substantially edited yesterday.
    – gparyani
    May 9 '19 at 11:00
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    @gparyani I don't think my answer needs correcting or clarifying: I've made it clear that I'm against 1, which makes 2 not matter at all (and if it does it should be a correction on the question/comments underneath there, but it doesn't change my answer), I don't see point 3 but for 4 I don't see how that clarifies or corrects anything and what it even matters for my answer, as my only argument regarding the post on SO was that it is generally applicable to all on-hold questions, which your edit did not change.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    May 9 '19 at 11:05
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    I'd at least prefer if your answer didn't assert that I was referring to a nonexistent close reason and instead used the proper references to the two close reasons instead. (Note that I initially posted this comment before you edited yours, so I didn't see your edits; I've edited the question to make this more clear.)
    – gparyani
    May 9 '19 at 11:08
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    @gparyani I've answered the question and comments as they were written, if that's your preference you should've thought about that before writing down the question/comment and getting an answer. It's a problem I often see with your posts, where you suddenly change your wording if you don't like the answer you get. I'm going to leave my post as is.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    May 9 '19 at 11:11
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    Okay, I understand. But the assertion that "We don't even have a reason to close question as 'too subjective'" is incorrect regardless, since we do have a close reason that does specifically use the words "too subjective" (OT, "what should I do").
    – gparyani
    May 9 '19 at 11:13
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    @gparyani 'We don't have a reason to close a question as too subjective' is totally right. We have a reason that mentions a question is too subjective, but in the end those questions are closed as off-topic. To avoid confusion for other users, my statement is perfectly correct and again boils down to you needing to think before you write something down.
    – Tinkeringbell Mod
    May 9 '19 at 11:16
  • After having read your answer a second time, I think it does indeed make sense as is. As you said, we don't have a specific close reason for "too subjective", and most "off-topic, what should I do" questions can also be closed as POB.
    – gparyani
    May 9 '19 at 11:34
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No, another FAQ isn't what IPS needs

As Ælis pointed out in their comment, we already have an FAQ along with guidelines for good questions and good answers. We link users to those pages quite often, and get (what I would consider) mediocre results at best. I've seen many users complain about being linked to these posts, and far fewer have actually used them to improve their own posts.

Canned comments

We've had plenty of discussion about canned comments, and the general consensus is that they are bad. Always pointing users to an faq has a tendency to feel to the users like we are leaving canned comments, even if the comments aren't copy/pasted. There are only so many ways to say "Your post is too subjective, go look at our guidelines", and the more we say that, the more new users are going to feel unwelcome.

Why is this important?

I can definitely understand why we might want to have canonical posts, because they make moderating the site easier for the people doing the moderating. Moderating IPS is not the easiest thing in the world to do. In fact, I think it's one of the harder stacks to participate in from a moderation standpoint. Interpersonal skills are most definitely not black and white. We get plenty of questions that are off topic because they don't focus on the narrow definition of interpersonal skills that we have to use in order to make the Q&A model work. One really common example of this is questions about intrapersonal skills. We get a lot of questions that may seem on-topic to askers because they deal with situations that involve lots of people, but the question is ultimately about the OP handling their own internal reactions.

It can be exhausting trying to help new users get accustomed to IPS. Even users who are well versed in the SE network have trouble staying within the lines here, and coldly handing out links to canonical meta posts is not going to make that any better.

What should we do instead?

I'm not saying that linking to meta posts is bad, but we need to do much more. If you see a question that is too subjective, leave a detailed comment. Explain to the user exactly why their question is too subjective, and offer advice on how to fix it. It just so happens that we have a really good example of this posted a few days ago by ElizB.

Hello, welcome to Interpersonal skills! This question is really broad, and we try to focus on constructing questions with a clear goal in mind. I'm glad you are looking at what you do around different people, it's a great and useful insight. Did you want to ask more about how you can communicate with work colleagues better when you are outside of work? This is a good example of something you can edit your question to. Don't be worried if your question ends up being on hold, that's just a way to let you have time to edit it and structure it more clearly so we can help you the best we can!

Leaving comments like this and then following up on them is how we are going to help new users learn to use IPS properly. I know first hand that these comments are not always easy to write. I've sometimes spent 30 minutes to an hour trying to get it right. If you find yourself in this kind of a situation, where you know a question is too broad but are struggling to find the best way to help the op, feel free to drop into chat and ask someone there to help. I've seen the mods doing that recently, and I think it is a practice we should all adopt. It can be as simple as

Hey, this question is too subjective, can someone help me write a comment to the OP?

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