13

Don't get me wrong: I understand the argument that the answer in almost all cases is "it depends". Nevertheless, many people do want some advice on the applicability of various languages in the real world and it seems to me that programmers is the place to ask.

I think there is a meta-question that most people who ask this question have: "How much value is there to my career if I learn another language?" or, maybe, "does it really matter that much which languages I know?"

Again: I understand that this is localised and may be specific to a person's individual circumstances, but it also seems that it would be really helpful to a bunch of people to have an answer that says "knowing languages is good" rather than "don't ask that; it's off-topic".

I guess I'm asking how we can help those people who are trying to make an important decision about their career development but don't have the industry experience to know that it's not quite the right question to be asking. They are asking for mentorship and I don't think immediately closing the question is helpful or encouraging.

Is there a better place we can refer these questions to? I don't see any stack sites that would be more appropriate.

  • Because the question is for a given person only making the answer too localized? – user1249 Jun 17 '11 at 17:41
11

The reason it's off topic is because the question has been asked already so many times that it's no longer a valuable question for the community.

Just take a look at this search for Search: What language next and look at all of the countless questions about what language to learn next.

The question is also not valuable because it's just too argumentative and not constructive. It's the type of question that just spurs a lot of debate between the different groups of developers who defend their platform because it's their platform. You can do a quick Google search and find many dead forums on this topic that have died simply because the noise was too overwhelming. The Q&A site goals are different: To create great content to serve as a reference of questions and answers that will still be valuable in years to come.

In short, the answer to the question really doesn't matter.

20

The simple answer is that the question as stated "which language should I learn next?" is unanswerable.

The only answer anyone should give is always "it depends" - which isn't an answer at all.

What does it depend on? Well this is an incomplete list:

  • What languages you already know
  • What problem you want to solve
  • What environment you have to solve the problem in
  • What language the company you're about to join uses

and so on.

However, the only answers you get (as jmort253 points out) are ones promoting people's favourite language. The votes then become meaningless with people voting up their favourite and voting down the one(s) they hate.

Ultimately it's not a real problem. The next language you should learn is largely determined by the project you are working on and unless you are in the rare situation of having complete freedom over what you do this will have been chosen by someone else.

  • 3
    +1 for it being largely dependent on the project you are working on. – Aditya P May 14 '11 at 16:07
  • 1
    Let me clear this whole thing up once and for all. It's the one YOU'RE interested in. It's not magic. Do what you like best and then one day, you'll magically find a job doing just that. – Kevin May 15 '11 at 23:20
5

I'll just bring up one point that hasn't been mentioned to this point... in our FAQ, the VERY first sentence is:

Programmers - Stack Exchange is for expert programmers who are interested in subjective questions on software development.

Perhaps I'm adding my own emphasis when reading this but to me one of the key words is expert. We seem to have drifted away from this over time and I would bet that now more than half of the questions asked are asked by absolute beginners or students looking for advice of some sort. Most students are not expert programmers and by definition most of their questions would be off-topic if the FAQ was strictly enforced.

Aside: We should either enforce this point more or change the FAQ to represent reality. Since I don't think the original intent was to be exclusionary, I would vote for changing the FAQ.

  • 4
    I actually think drawing in more expert content would be better than changing the FAQ. StackExchange's goal is to build communities of experts. Having a flood of basic questions tends to drive experts away. – Adam Lear May 16 '11 at 14:38
  • 1
    Both Anna and Ali bring up good points. The site does have a lot of questions from students and they're finding a near infinite way to ask the same group of questions. It appears that a lot of our new users are beginners and I would love if someone could prove or disprove that point. To Anna's point, I wonder what we, as a community, can do to prevent driving our existing experts away... Perhaps that should be another Meta question. – Walter May 16 '11 at 15:06
4

First of all, like noted by an above answer, it depends on countless factors about yourself that we don't know about and don't have the time to learn about. Only you know all of these. But as this as already been discussed, I won't get to into this reason.

Perhaps the biggest reason this question should not be asked is because it has already been asked countless times across the Internet. It is also an extremely subjunctive question because of the large amount of pure opinion that can be put into it. Even Programmers, which is the subjective site, discourages questions with this much subjectiveness. It turns into useless babble and debates where the experts and professionals that can attempt to answer your question effectively get drowned out. Both are reasons on their own that they should not be asked on a Stack Exchange website.

When you ask a question on the Stack Exchange Network, you are somewhat expected to do your own research on the question to see if you can answer it yourself before you ask it. I'm sure that if anyone asking this question took the time to go to Google and type the question in there, they would find many resources that would help them answer their question, many of them ironically being Stack Exchange questions.

  • 1
    Excellent point about doing some research before posting questions. – ChrisF May 16 '11 at 7:48

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