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Per the feedback in FAQ - What questions can I ask here I'd like to add the following Off Topic areas to the first part of our FAQ ASAP:

What questions are off topic here?

  • "Which job should I take?"
    • Questions asking which job/company/industry is "better" or which fits you best can't really be answered and can only be discussed. This is not a discussion forum, but a Question and Answer site.
  • "Is it legal..."
    • If a question requires a lawyer to answer it, we can't help. These situations are simply too specific and too complex to definitively answer on our site.
  • "Please review my resume/CV"
    • Questions need to apply to more than just you. Since this site is here to help everyone, and not review to a specific resume, these are not "questions" to us as they don't have definite answers.
  • "How do I learn to be a..." / "How do I perform the job of a ..."
    • Questions should be about problems you are encountering or have encountered in the workplace, and not the learning/applying of specific job functions.

I close a question from one of these categories almost every day (and across all mods I'm certain we close one or more a day). I think we need to work on getting some good wording to explain what is on topic, but I think we already have a great starting point for Off Topic stuff so I'd like to get this in immediately.

Vote if you approve/disapprove, and comment if you think it can be improved somehow.

  • You should also tell people that abstract questions are preferred. Questions that involve specific people, or specific events will likely be closed as 'Too Localized'. – Jim G. Jul 22 '12 at 4:58
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    @JimG. Umm, no. That's a misrepresentation of the Too Localized close reason and part of an argument best left to your post on the matter – Rarity Jul 22 '12 at 13:39
  • So... does the meta question about how do i figure it out for myself off topic? I kind of think by extention it is. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jul 26 '12 at 15:19
  • @Chad that one's much more generally applicable (by intent apparently) so I'm more content to leave it sit. Since it's staying to a general "career development" theme it's less objectionable. I like Rachel's "generic career councilor" test for questions like that. You wouldn't ask them how to learn C++, but maybe you'd ask them how to find out if you need to learn C++ – Rarity Jul 26 '12 at 15:22
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I went ahead and added this to our FAQ since the response has been positive and I think we worked the kinks out in this post.

Keep in mind this can be edited any time, so continue to give any feedback you have on our FAQ.

Please help us define what is on topic in FAQ - What questions can I ask here

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I'd like to suggest we also consider things which are time sensitive off topic. I know that to an extent almost all answers do sort of "expire" - for example cell phone culture has changed radically in the last 10 years, and is probably still in transition. So questions like "is it rude to do X regarding cellphones?" could easily be out of date information in a few years.

But more importantly, I'd say we avoid questions and answers that hinge around massively dynamic things like salary. I'd say "What is the fair market rate for X career?" to be an OT question, because it is massively different from year to year and also dependant on location and the case in question.

Clarification based on commentary:

I like the general consensus that if the topic is general, ie broadly applicable in the here and now across a large locale, work domain or other population segement - then it's OK to have even in cases of evolving technology in the workplace where this year's answer may not be next year's answer. The general concept being that things like cell phone ettiquitte are common norms that can have a single answer for a large group.

Things that are both highly time sensitive and very limited in scope are out - like salary ranges - because they fall into the "too narrow" window in both time and audience. Not a far cry from the "should I take this job?" or "what should I learn next, here's my resume?" type questions.

As an aside, I'm thinking that even salary range can be readjusted to a more general topic, if the question asker is willing to put a little effort in. For example:

  • what the key factors that influence salary range in IT hands on jobs?

  • what is a good strategy for finding a competitive business domain in the technical arena?

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    IMO the latter is clearly Too Localized (different at all times and all locales, the answer is always "look at the current market rate around you"). The former is trickier; I think it's a bit strong to say things that could be out dated in years are off topic. Changing information is a challenge, however I think it's risky to try and say it's just plain off topic – Rarity Jul 23 '12 at 20:29
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    to repel questions like "fair market rate for X career", I'd consider referring Q&A is Hard, Let’s Go Shopping! in the FAQ. "...What’s the point of a bunch of labor intensive questions that provide only temporary benefit to a limited (some might say Too Localized) audience? There isn’t any..." – gnat Jul 24 '12 at 2:06
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    To be clear, I was thinking that this was a good compare/contrast - the first one (cell phones) - being on topic because answers generally work now for most times, places, and cultures. The later being OT for specificity and @gnat - I love that link! Hadn't seen it! It's exactly what I was thinking, too. – bethlakshmi Jul 24 '12 at 18:11
  • Is it rude to do X regarding cellphones?" could easily be out of date information in a few years. - Nope. You lost me with this one. This would be a great on-topic question. // Furthermore, there's no need to be excessively concerned with the "time-sensitive" nature of an on-topic question. Stackexchange is a tool for the here and the now. And all answers are at least a little bit time-sensitive anyhow. // Beth: I usually agree with your answers across all stackexchange sites; but I'm totally on the other side on this one. – Jim G. Jul 25 '12 at 0:12
  • @Jim - please reread, I was trying to offer a compare/contrast - cell phone ettiquitte is and has been in transition but might fairly be considered a topic (I am actually ambivalent). Salaries for this year are too limited in scope to be generally useful. I'm going to try clarifying in the post... – bethlakshmi Jul 25 '12 at 19:49

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