The following question was asked on PMSE:

Should you give developer(s) bounty/bonus for his/her result?

On the surface, the question title may appear on-topic, but after reading this well-written, detailed question, I noticed it was asked from the perspective of a developer and that it didn't seem to involve anything related to project management. The question does involve incentives, which may be on-topic for project management, but it didn't seem to be asked as a way to solve a specific project management problem.

Instead, it appeared to be a problem that an employee was facing related to his level of pay. This could easily be a problem a marketer was facing, or a pizza delivery driver, etc.

From the FAQ:

Project Management - Stack Exchange is for expert and enthusiast project managers who have questions about managing projects.

Does this question describe a project management problem or does this question describe a developer problem?

By leaving this open, are we setting a precedent for programmers to next ask about whether to use Java or C# in their next project, simply because a project manager may be interested in choosing the technology? Are we leaving the door open for someone to describe a problem they're having with a coworker harassing them, simply because a project manager might be interested in this topic?

If you think it should be considered on-topic, why? How does this question add value to a site for project management problems?

Let's use this question as an opportunity to help define the boundaries of the site and answer yet another tough question :)

UPDATE: Can the question be edited to be more on-topic (or less of a site boundary question)?

6 Answers 6


My reasons for asking that this question be on-topic:

  • We're a site for project-management topics, not a site for project managers (topic vs. role)
  • How to inspire and lead people is most definitely an aspect of management, including project management.
  • I think the word "project" should not be taken too literally in our topic, due to the fact that much of what we talk about is also relevant to operations management, product management, services management, etc.
  • We seem to be building a home for agile software management as well, and the "people" aspects are incredibly intertwined with the "project" aspects in that domain. I'd rather be inclusionary than exclusionary.
  • +1 Eric, good points, particularly on the "people" aspects. Agile, like all other methodologies, does have a place here. Commented May 22, 2011 at 13:25
  • These are the reasons I believe the question should be off-topic. The first, third and fourth bullets diminish the value of PM:SE to me. This is an excellent answer in terms of defining the scope of the group. Well articulated.
    – MCW
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 13:17

I agree with others that the topic is certainly in scope, but the "point of view" might not be (e.g. from the perspective of a team-member vs the Project Manager)

My personal feeling is that any team member who asks these types of PM related question might fit into the "enthusiast PM" realm.

For the specific case of the bounty/bonus question - I think asking the original poster to modify the post to ask the question from a "how would a project manager..." to "how could/should a project manager..."

  • Thanks for your answer. I definitely agree on the point of view aspect of the question.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 22, 2011 at 21:45

I was the one who questioned if the subject is on-topic, so I feel responsible to answer.

I recognize this question as off-topic because:

  • it's written from developer perspective
  • it does not cover any PM problem (ok, developer's morale IS a PM problem, but one needs to formulate the question as such), it's rather an insight into the unmotivated developer's thoughts
  • it's a "would you" rather than "should you" question (I would increase salaries by 1000% but should I?)
  • author refused to rephrase the question, so it still do not fit the PMSE requirements
  • I want to point out that you, as well as almost 30 other members of this site with over 500 reputation, have the ability to vote to close a question, and I encourage you to make your voice heard by using those close votes. Thank you for this explanation, I didn't think about the third point, which is also equally valid.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 20, 2011 at 13:59
  • Would you be interested in doing a suggested-edit on the question to see if it can be made more on-topic without losing the main idea of the question? In your opinion, is the question "fixable"? Thanks for participating in the community moderation of the site :)
    – jmort253
    Commented May 20, 2011 at 14:03
  • 1
    @jmort253, thanks for reminding me about close-vote. I am unable to make edits, but rather edit suggestions, but it is even better because someone else will see it before edit gets accepted. Commented May 20, 2011 at 14:23
  • I agree with @jmort that if it has some merit, we should exercise our edit privileges it to make it more broadly applicable -- blog.stackoverflow.com/2011/01/… Commented May 21, 2011 at 6:11
  • Ok, I edited it a little. Commented May 22, 2011 at 10:32

As stated by many, this specific question linked in the original post could be rewritten to fit the full scope of the website. But I agree with @Mark Phillips when we ask ourselves if the subject about incentives are relevant to the site, and they definitely are.

Anyway, you ask how community should handle such questions that may come from another perspective other than from project managers. I think it's pretty simple:

Using the common sense.

The community will judge if it's entirely off-topic or if it has important elements that are relevant. And as stated before, the community can use its power to down vote, vote for closing the question, and many other solutions.

I would vote to leave the question open and let the community decide if it's a valuable question that is relevant to the site or not/

  • Thanks for your assessment. Although difficult to determine, I was looking for more defined scope of where the boundaries are in terms of what fits on this site and what doesn't, which would serve as a guide to the community in terms of aligning everyone around what is on-topic vs off-topic. In this case, I feel the majority of responders feel that leaving it open was the right move, and we should use this information as a guide for future perceived boundary questions.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 26, 2011 at 4:30

@jmort253 seems like two parts to your question.

  1. Since its written from a developer's view vs pm's view does it fit into the site?

  2. Is the subject about employee incentives relevant to the site?

Regarding no. 2, I think it clearly is relevant to the site. Regarding no. 2, that opens a good issue on whether someone has to be a pm or take a pm's perspective in order to ask a question.

I would vote to leave the question open and allow questions that try to understand the pm's perspective, even if the asker themselves is not the pm. Communication between managers and team members is at the heart of many pm issues.

It also seems to be in keeping with the team member focused perspective of many members of the community.

  • Thanks for your assessment. I think it's okay for non-PM's to ask questions here if the problem directly involves a PM or PM-issue. The doubt I have is who is responsible for awarding the OP's bonus? Is he -- a developer -- asking the question because he's interested in a PM career? Is his PM awarding the bonus? Is there even a PM involved at all in this question? Perhaps the main question is this: If a question is asked that has absolutely no mention of a PM and is ambiguous as to who the decision-makers are, is the question still on-topic?
    – jmort253
    Commented May 21, 2011 at 7:05

Personally I would prefer a site that is narrowly scoped around practical problems in project management.

I think Mr. Willeke articulates one vision for PM:SE very well - it is a valid vision, but it is not the vision I prefer.

  • I prefer that questions about about line management/supervision, incentives, HR, and other issues be asked elsewhere. These questions in particular require a focus that is distinct from the core skills of scope, quality, cost, schedule, etc. These questions are also much more particular to the specific organization; things that are acceptable at your site may or may not be acceptable at mine. Although some project managers are also line managers, once we cross that line, this site loses some essential focus. I'm very aware of the counter-argument that we're still in beta and there are questions about our participation rates, but those arguments don't change my position.

  • We have too many questions about product management, operations management, etc. I'd prefer to maintain the narrow focus on practical problems in project management.

  • While we do seem to be developing a home for agile topics, I hope we don't get that narrow. The organization for which I work pays lip service to Agile, but continues to operate in a waterfall world. I need to know enough agile to sprinkle agile terminology through my documentation, but I need to solve problems without resorting to agile practices. (My customer requires that I pay homage to agile but at no point am I ever to actually practice agile).

I welcome questions from developers, or from anyone else, so long as they relate to practical problems in project management.

Excellent meta question and an excellent opportunity to define what this site should become.

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