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I've always seen SO as an interesting place to start discussions about programming-related topics. But lately I've noticed that almost every question about career is getting closed, just when interesting points of view are starting to be expressed. I know that the main focus of SO is programming, but in my honest opinion, our careers are about programming and this is a rich subject to be discussed.

I wonder, is there a reason for that? Is it forbidden at SO to ask career-related questions?

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migrated from Jan 29 '10 at 17:24

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

2 this one? – jldupont Jan 29 '10 at 17:23
When asking a question like this, it's best to link to questions you think were improperly closed. Maybe people can provide better explanations for why they were closed; there are a variety of reasons. A vague question like this is hard to answer, as it's hard to tell which closed questions you're concerned about. – Brian Campbell Jan 29 '10 at 17:25
What do those questions have to do with programming? If the answer is, "my career happens to be programming" then they're not really programming-related, they're just... you -related. – Shog9 Jan 29 '10 at 17:31
Not only my career happens to be programming, but everyone else's around here, I guess. – user142562 Jan 29 '10 at 17:33
...So, you could ask essentially the same questions on a site for accountants or hairdressers (perhaps replacing "coding" with "arithmetic" or "hair")? Then at best it falls into the same category as questions like, "Will I find love, as a programmer?" or "What do programmers like for breakfast": programmer-related but not programming related. – Shog9 Jan 29 '10 at 17:36
See also:… – Shog9 Jan 29 '10 at 17:37
Is it wrong that I'm very tempted to ask what programmers like for breakfast on SO right now? – Andy E Jan 29 '10 at 19:11
@Andy: we like waffles... – Shog9 Jan 29 '10 at 21:27

I've always seen SO as an interesting place to start discussions about programming-related topics.

Well, then you saw wrong.

This is not a discussion forum. It is a place to ask questions that have answers.

From the official FAQ:

What kind of questions should I not ask here?

Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. This is not a discussion board, this is a place for questions that can be answered!

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Some helpful and nice people (which is not your case) answered my questions (please refer to the links provided). So, I think YOU saw wrong. – user142562 Jan 29 '10 at 17:30
@unknown (google) I am sorry that I was so forward. However, it looks like most people agree with me. Also, this line from the Official FAQ agrees with me: Avoid asking questions that are subjective, argumentative, or require extended discussion. – jjnguy Jan 29 '10 at 17:50

I've always maintained that very few career related questions apply only to programmers, and so most career questions end up being, "How to deal with a bad boss - for programmers."

The reason I typically vote to close such questions is that there are far better sites for career advice than SO, and SO is intentionally very narrow focused.

If we start allowing 'fluff' questions, eventually the front page will have a significant number of them all the time because they are so easy to pile on with one's own subjective experiences and thoughts.

This will drive away expert programmers who live and breathe programming, who we need on the site to help with real programming questions.

In other words, you can get career advice elsewhere, but you can't get as good programming advice elsewhere. If we allow career advice here, we will necessarily lower the quality of programming advice - the reputation system guarantees that soft, subjective questions will be more highly valued by the community if they are allowed to persist.

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From the StackOverflow Blog:

In my mind, there are three broad guidelines that determine whether a question is appropriate for Stack Overflow:

  1. Does this question match the criteria provided in the Stack Overflow FAQ?
  2. Is this question accepted by the community, as reflected in upvotes, favorites, views, and answers?
  3. Does this question teach me anything that could make me better at my job? Can I learn something from it?

So career questions don't really meet point 1 and definitely not point 2 (as a close means that the question is not accepted by the community). Whether they meet the third criteria is questionable and might strongly depend on the question.

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Close votes cannot be used to argue against point 2. This is a partly recursive argument, since some people refer to these guidelines to determine whether to vote to close in the first place. – Jon Seigel Jan 29 '10 at 18:26

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