I find myself tending to ask questions that are of the form "how do others solve this problem?" or "how do others perform this activity?" (like here). I find the information in the answers very valuable and effective, but can't really identify any single answer as "the answer."

  1. Are these questions on topic?
  2. Is there a (consistent) way for the asker to annotate which response they personally found most valuable?
  3. Do we want to tag these questions in some way as an indicator that they're "opinion" and "approach" questions, encouraging future readers to review all of the highly-voted answers instead of just the one identified as an answer?

2 Answers 2


These types of questions are generally discouraged.

You'll hear them called "List of [X] questions" or "Getting to know you (GTKY) questions" or simply "polls." They can be interesting and they can have some utility… but they're not really what we want for a community Q&A like this.

The general objection to these questions is they tend to be Bikeshed examples. They're really easy to ask, and even easier to answer. You are just asking everyone, essentially, "what do you think?"

When a question gets such a disproportionate response, it is hard to resist. Users emulate what they see on the site, and this low-hanging fruit will fill the site with "What would you do about this?" … and "What's your favorite … ?", etc.

This random contribution is not really the product of expertise, and a forum of experts starts to devolve into random chatter, trivia, and conversations.

It's best to ask specific questions about problems you actually have; problems with clear, objective answers. Sometimes questions can veer towards the more subjective subjects, but we try and say away from polls all together. For guidelines about these more subjective topics, refer to Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

  • Can you respond to the specific example I linked? Good? Bad? I feel it's legitimate as a PM question, and certainly very useful to me as a professional, but it's definitely one that could generate a catalogue of useful techniques (sorted by usefulness represented in the form of the votes) Commented May 27, 2011 at 18:35
  • @Eric - I'm not familiar with Value Stream Mapping, but from what I can tell, I feel like the question should have more detail. Ideally, you should describe a specific problem that you are facing. The more specific the problem, the better the answers will be that you receive.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 7:20
  • We're seeing questions here that IMHO fit your description of polling or getting to know you questions, and the community has responded very negatively when I've closed such questions. Here is another example: pm.stackexchange.com/questions/2410/…. I've left a comment, but should these questions be closed? Or should they just merely be "discouraged"? How should we approach such questions? Should they be community wiki if they do bring value? In this case, the question I've referenced did get really good, helpful answers.
    – jmort253
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 19:58
  • I think that's what I'm struggling with here. I think that quite a few of the most valuable questions would fall in this category for project management. In fact, unless we're going to push on the "How do I use MS Project to accomplish this goal", I'd be worried about any topic that doesn't have multiple valid answers. I suppose there's always "the PMBOK says so" as an option, but we're at a point where Scrum, Kanban, and the PMBOK all have equally correct but very different answers to the same question. Commented May 29, 2011 at 21:40
  • 2
    @Eric - I believe that the more specific the question, the more specific the answers will be. If the questions are very generic, then we'll get multiple, generic answers. But more specific questions will get a few really great answers. I do agree that some of the most valuable questions here so far have multiple great answers, and I believe that as long as the quality is there, this is okay. We just need to continue to ask questions such as this and re-evaluate the site as it grows.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jun 1, 2011 at 6:56

In this specific question, I think it's borderline.

It could be improved by indicating exactly what you wish to accomplish, e.g. less of

How do others do X?

and more of

I need to do X to accomplish Y. How should I proceed?

Adding more about the specifics of what you hope to accomplish makes all the difference; otherwise it's quite close to being on on our "don't ask" list at https://pm.stackexchange.com/faq#dontask

  • So, if my goal is to improve my own facilitation techniques for VSM, how would I phrase it? Is it a matter of asking for specific facilitation techniques? I took a shot at editing the question to bring it more inline. Commented May 28, 2011 at 9:25
  • @eric possibly; I suspect adding some concrete examples to the question would also help narrow the it. Commented May 29, 2011 at 4:22
  • This is a great way to take a question that could be closed and turn it into a valuable, on-topic question. +1
    – jmort253
    Commented May 29, 2011 at 20:04

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