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A Stack Exchange CHAOS team member referred a user to us with a question that really pushes the boundaries of what we define as constructive. The question was also flagged, which prompted me to take action and close it as not constructive.

We've established that questions that ask for advice, recommendations, or that try to turn the post into a discussion are not a good fit for any Stack Exchange site. However, that doesn't mean a closed question cannot be edited and brought in-line with Stack Exchange criteria of a good, constructive question.

What tips can we give the user Code Junkie to help not only make this question fit, but also say to this user that we welcome future contributions?

Please edit the question and/or leave guiding comments. If we can bring the question within guidelines, please flag for reopening and another moderator or myself will review the question. I'll also look at it in more detail later when I have time.

Question:

How to Adapt to a New Team Culture?

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I gave it a shot, to make it more oriented to team formation to solicit answers based on community member's team leadership experience. What do you think?

  • Thank you! It's reopen-worthy. It's more concise and focuses on a more direct question. But I'm not sure I'm clear on why it's a project management question? While it's valuable to someone, is it valuable to project managers? One thing I can think of is it could maybe help me as a PM know that I need to watch how I treat people. Is that what other PM's here see in a question like that as well? – jmort253 Jul 6 '12 at 0:47
  • Judging what's constructive is subjective and won't be easy. As you pointed out, our faq used to say that "PM is a broad topic.. anything that touches on that is on-topic." I'm a bit worried that blurry boundaries may make it harder to tell when a good contructive question just doesn't belong on PMSE (but maybe another SE site). I'm wondering what you think we can do to help make this clearer, not just for the community, but for mods as well? – jmort253 Jul 6 '12 at 0:50
  • Provided a sample answer to show how I envision it fitting with the question. Do you think that makes it more of a "pm" fit? – Mark Phillips Jul 6 '12 at 1:18
  • Thanks for adding the answer. I actually feel like it states what the asker might already know and repeats what David already said.... I posted a more detailed question here that may help you understand my confusion and lead us closer to finding out where the boundary is: meta.pm.stackexchange.com/questions/374/… – jmort253 Jul 6 '12 at 1:24
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Why It's Off-Topic

I think this question is just fundamentally off-topic. Here are some reasons why:

  1. It is not possible to envision any sort of canonical response to this question.
  2. Even if we accept questions which are likely to solicit opinions and subjective answers as being on-topic, the underlying question is not really about teaming or project management in any objective sense; it's more of a "feeling" question that seems more suitable to a support forum than a Q&A site.
  3. The only tangential relationship to project management here is that the "boss" is a project manager. However, this is actually not relevant to the post as a whole; it would be semantically the same without that linkage.
  4. The majority of the post was a catalog of personalities and emotions. Adding a single line about teaming or organizational culture at the end doesn't really change the nature of the real question, which seems to be something along the lines of "How can one deal with post-traumatic stress at work?"
  5. If it doesn't ask a question related to project management frameworks, project management tasks, or project management responsibilities I fail to see how it could be seen as on-topic for a project management stack.

How It Might Be Made On-Topic

There are a couple of things about the post that could be salvageable, but only by gutting the post and changing its semantic content radically. Some examples might be:

  1. A question about how to leverage the team's project management framework to address teaming issues.

  2. A question about how one constructively leaves a team or project, with a focus on a team's continued viability or deliverables rather than the feelings of the person leaving.

  3. Casting it almost as a user story. For example:

    As a team member,
    I would like to leverage stand-up meetings
    so that I can feel more integrated with the rest of the team.
    
  4. A question about the necessity of pair-programming or group co-location when it has a negative impact on individual or team performance.

While I think we all sympathize with the poster, and would like to be able to help, it seems like a Q&A site focused on project management practices is the wrong place for the question. It certainly seems like deleting the question--rather than just closing it--would be most respectful thing we could do for the original poster under the circumstances.

  • Thanks for your assessment. Why do you propose deletion over closing? – jmort253 Jul 13 '12 at 20:26
  • @jmort253 My thought is that closed questions provide value by linking to other questions, or as guideposts to what will get closed in the future. In this case, though, the question seems deeply personal--possibly even professionally embarrassing to someone down the road--and I am tempted to treat it the same way I would if someone accidentally posted a password in a code block over on SO. I just don't see how the potential harm to the OP is outweighed by community interest in this case, or what purpose is really served by keeping it publicly visible. – Todd A. Jacobs Jul 13 '12 at 20:42
  • Interesting point. However, deleting questions on PMSE so far has been reserved for spam and extremely low quality material. Since this doesn't fit the "very low quality" standard, deleting, IMHO, should be up to the users with access to the 10k tools and delete votes (Note: 10k moderation tools are accessible with only 2000 reputation on beta sites). With that said, I would consider unilaterally deleting it if the asker requested it through email or a flag. – jmort253 Jul 14 '12 at 1:20

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