I'm sorry you don't think people have been clear about where career-development questions belong, so let me take a stab at it:
Where are career development questions welcome?
Career development questions are categorically off-topic on Stack Overflow. There is no career development question, outside of run-of-the-mill code-related questions, that is remotely on-topic for Stack Overflow anymore.
Programmers.SE is the place on the network where you can ask career development questions under certain preconditions that ChrisF mentioned in his answer: they need to uniquely apply to programmers and not be too localized.
Any other type of career development question is currently off-topic everywhere on the network. However, there are two proposals in the commitment phase that will provide a place to ask about career development questions that apply to other IT professions (IT Careers & Training) and a place to ask general workplace advice questions (Professsional Matters).
Why is there a career-development tag on Stack Overflow, and why do people keep asking career development questions there?
Stack Overflow was created in September of 2008, and for a very long time it was the only site where you could ask any question related to programming: code questions, joke questions, programmer lifestyle questions, and career development questions.
However, Stack Overflow quickly grew and all the questions that didn't relate to code started to become just a whole bunch of noise. A shift in both the team's guidance and community sensibilities slowly started to weed out the non-code questions as being "not programming related" and the community started to close them. This caused a fair amount of backlash as the "not programming related" questions were easily the most popular questions on the site.
Fast forward a couple of years: Stack Overflow grew from one site into a fledgeling network of Q&A sites. To help grow the network, the team launched Area 51, a platform for allowing the community to define and launch Q&A sites for any topic that could gain critical mass. Not surprisingly, one of the first topics proposed was "Not Programming Related": a place to house all of the questions that were incredibly popular on Stack Overflow but were noise for those who just wanted to focus on the coding questions.
That site went through a few months of beta and was launched as Programmers.SE in December 2010. At that point, all the non-coding questions became categorically off-topic on Stack Overflow and on-topic for Programmers.SE provided they met certain conditions worked out during its beta period.
Unfortunately, 2 and a half years of not having Programmers.SE had two problems:
- All the questions that were no longer on-topic for Stack Overflow didn't magically disappear the moment Programmers.SE launched
- The community of hundreds of thousands of users did not suddenly change their patterns the moment Programmers.SE launched
Rather than spend an inordinate amount of time searching through the millions of questions asked on Stack Overflow for everything that's no longer on-topic, and rather than chlench the iron fist of justice by banning anyone who doesn't post their question in the right place, the community has largely been allowed to correct itself.
This self-correction takes time, and is far from over. But we're getting better at it: nearly every non-coding question gets closed or migrated to Programmers.SE. The ones that don't are outliers: questions that inevitably slip through the cracks. And the questions that existed before Programmers.SE launched: they're grandfathered in until they catch the eye of a moderator or the community.
As a moderator on Programmers.SE who routinely deals with migrated questions from Stack Overflow, trust me when I say the system's working: we get hundreds of questions from Stack Overflow every month. The really popular questions that are no longer on-topic for either site are almost always locked by a moderator and left to die a cold and lonely death in the vast archives of Stack Overflow, Raiders of the Lost Ark style (spoiler alert).
Why does the career-development tag continue to exist if all the questions are now off-topic?
To the point above, there are thousands of now off-topic questions that have not been taken care of yet. Removing the tag doesn't make them magically go away: it just removes a tag that correctly categorizes those questions and serves as a warning that they are no longer acceptable (even though they once were). The tag wiki for career-development says:
Evolution of a person through various jobs. This subject is now considered off-topic for Stack Overflow and new questions should be asked on programmers.stackexchange.com instead. Existing questions may be migrated in the future.
You can't get any more clear guidance than that.
Why are questions migrated when there seems to be still so much confusion?
Having a question migrated is not fun: nobody wants to have their question, which they really want an answer to, shuffled about in what appears to be a faceless bureaucracy.
But while it's annoying for an individual, it massively improves the quality of the network as a whole. Unlike sites like Quora or Yahoo! Answers, each Stack Exchange site is targeted to a very specific group of people who are interested in seeing only one class of questions.
That is, Stack Exchange's value in a sea of Q&A offerings is providing specialized sites that cater to specific types of experts who only want to see "their" questions. Having everything lumped together is a barrier to entry to those who just want to deal with coding questions without all the "fluff" of the other questions like career development (or cooking, or gaming, or home maintenance).
To this point, a migration from Stack Overflow to Programmers.SE is not a downgrade: you didn't do anything wrong, and your question isn't effectively destroyed. Instead, it's been moved to a place where there are tons of people who are more than happy to answer questions related to being a programmer that aren't necessarily about programming. Personally, I think it's an upgrade, but then again, I'm biased.
What can you do to help?
It's easy to say "Well, this guy asked a career development question on Stack Overflow, why can't I?" But as my mother used to say, "If your friend J.P. jumped off a bridge, would you too?" Change in a community as large as Stack Overflow requires everyone to pitch in and take on the responsibility of moderating.
If you see a career development question, it'd be helpful if you did one of two things:
- If you can, vote to close it as being off-topic.
- Leave a comment explaining such questions are off-topic on Stack Overflow, and are better asked on Programmers.SE.
Good Subjective, Bad Subjective
Discusses the problems behind the "not programming related" questions and how Programmers.SE is meant to solve them
Discusses the launch of Programmers.SE and how it's different from Stack Overflow
Meta Stack Overflow questions:
Programmers is about to go live, which questions should we migrate?
Discusses the problems I talked about above with respect to the catalog of newly off-topic questions at the time Programmers.SE launched
Why was the Programmers site on Stack Exchange created?
Like all heroes, Programmers.SE has an origin story. As told by Stack Exchange community coordinator, Shog9.