A new StackExchange: The Workplace


It's in beta, not released, but kinda right up my alley. I've been giving office-politics advice across the dinner table, conference table, beers, hallway, and the water-cooler for a long time now, and now they have a SE site where that kind of advice is right at home. Awesome. Their scope isn't well defined yet, but this is the kind of place to ask questions that are manifestly off-topic on ServerFault.

Questions like "what methods are useful for convincing a skeptical management that this technical project needs funding?" I've been fighting that fight since 2001, so I have a variety of methods I've used to climb that mountain. It's also the kind of fight that Senior Sysadmins get to have, but can't ask about on SF.

I have hopes for this site.

I also have fears. There are two diametrically opposed forces facing this site:

  1. It's aimed at Professionals, who need help navigating workplace issues.
  2. The internet isn't as anonymous as it once was, and higher-ups don't take their underlings airing the company dirty laundry on the Internet very well.

The second point rings rather true for me. It is very much not hard to trace this handle back to my real name, and my LinkedIn profile to get a short list of companies I just might be talking about if I ask a question. Once they have my nick associated with my company, suddenly I'm in Corporate Speechistan where it can mean my job if I say the wrong things.

For an example of how this can go bad, take this poor chap. He's stumbled across a co-worker who is potentially thieving company resources, but he isn't sure that's what's happening, and even if it is he doesn't know how to respond. I can say with confidence that none of the managers I've ever worked for would be pleased to see this associated with where I was working, and all of them would be saying, "You really should have come to me with that."

I'm perfectly happy giving advice to people having problems in the office, and I'm even happy to do it on a site as well indexed as the SE sites are. I just won't be asking questions there.

Which is unfortunate. According to their Area51 stats, they're doing excellently well in every metric but question-rate. There is a reason for this.