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Are the below questions unique to specific jobs / career paths (i.e. not generalizable)?

Are they off topic for this reason?

I see similar questions, but I'm still left a bit unsure.

The questions:

My guess is that these would fall under:

Questions seeking advice on what job to take, what skills to learn, etc. are off-topic as the answers are rarely useful to anyone else.

But, as per the help center (the first reason), this appears to be more for opinion-based questions, which this doesn't really seem to fall under. Or does this fall under "How do I learn to be a..." / "How do I perform the job of a ..." (even though it doesn't seem to classify as "the learning/applying of specific job functions")?

Shouldn't we perhaps modify the above reason for this?

Questions seeking advice on what job to take, what skills to learn, advice which can't be generalized to other jobs or career paths, etc. are off-topic as the answers are rarely useful to anyone else.

Or have a close reason specifically for this?

And modify the on-topic page a bit with regard to this?

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  • The community seems to favor software-related questions - even when very narrowly defined - and reject many others. Probably just the nature of the audience. – Joe Strazzere Apr 21 '14 at 12:22
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The thing that stands out about the two questions you referenced is that it appears we, as a community, may have actually done a good job in answering them.

In both cases, while somewhat speculative, user JB King answers by taking an objective stance, describing a few different likely solutions. The fact that there's references to Wikipedia articles suggests that there is somewhat of a standard regarding job titles, even if some companies do make up their own titles or sometimes tweak the job descriptions based on their own whims.

The thing about generalization is scale. For our site to continue to succeed, questions and answers should apply to enough people to where the content will help lots of people. This is of course a subjective criteria, one which is difficult to compartmentalize. Thus, Stack Exchange removed the "too localized" close reason precisely because many people misunderstood what types of questions to use it for.

A question about a job title, and the answers, may benefit many people also looking for work in the same career field. Sure, it won't benefit everyone, but it should benefit enough people to where it provides some measurable value to future visitors.

The other point to consider is this: Really general questions may arguably be more likely to be basic questions, questions that have already been asked and answered in other places. To disallow questions that aren't "general enough" may inadvertently throw out the tougher questions that Joel Spolsky, CEO and co-founder of Stack Exchange, describes in the blog post titled, "Sites for experts":

The power of the Stack Exchange platform is detailed, expert answers to extremely rare, ‘long-tail,’ highly technical questions. To get expert answers, you need experts. To attract experts, you need a site where people are asking very interesting and hard questions, not the basic questions, so that it’s clear that this is a PRO site, not a consumer/enthusiast site.... and remember, the pro sites WILL attract the enthusiasts, but not the other way around.

To answer more definitively, I wouldn't suggest adding these to the close reasons while the questions are open and getting good, useful answers. However, I'd like to hear more from members of the community before any definitive decisions are made.

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  • So if it can potentially benefit many people also looking for work in the same career field (or, more specifically, similar jobs), but no-one else, it's okay (at least if none of the others close reasons apply)? – Bernhard Barker Apr 20 '14 at 20:01
  • @Dukeling - The key is just to ask if it's content that helps us further our mission to make the Internet a better place. If the content does that, then I don't see a problem. The general idea is simply to encourage people to word their questions in a way that does keep in mind that, as an asker, this is how you give back to the community. Many people mistakenly assume that if they're asking questions, they're not helping. But if they're asking good questions, then they're helping more than they realize. Hope this helps. – jmort253 Apr 20 '14 at 21:49
  • While I don't argue that those questions might be useful in themselves, I guess I just think that if the site allows questions uniquely applicable to specific careers, that might make its scope a bit too broad and make experts less likely to want to stay here. Stack Overflow similarly allows questions for any programming language but, in this case, there isn't a specific tag or set of tags for generic workplace issues (to my knowledge), so you're likely to see a set of questions that largely isn't applicable to you (now or likely at any point in the future) when browsing for general workplace questions. – Bernhard Barker Apr 20 '14 at 22:49
  • There's two groups I think of when answering these questions: The first group is the core community and what keeps the core community interested. The second group is much larger, by about a factor of 10, and that's visitors coming from search engines. For the latter group, most of their interest will likely derive from whatever problem our site is currently helping them solve. – jmort253 Apr 20 '14 at 23:39
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    That we can answer them well should not be a criteria for deciding that a question is on topic. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Apr 21 '14 at 13:48

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