From programming practices starting (a stereotypical "what do I start with" college question):

Community: Since this question keeps coming up in one form or another ("what should I do next?"), and it's technically off-topic for the site, I suggest we curate this one as a canonical question. – Robert Harvey

As I see it, there are a few possibilities here.

  1. We make a canonical question, and instead of off topic duping them, we close them.
  2. We keep closing them as off topic with an appropriate message.

Ultimately, the questions will be closed either way. The problem that I see with the canonical curated question is exactly as mentioned in one of the suggestions for off topic reasons:

Questions asking for advice about careers or education are difficult because the stakes can seem high and the decisions seem permanent. In most cases though, any answer is going to be a subjective opinion that may not take into account all the nuances of a particular circumstance. These types of questions are off-topic because they don't generate meaningful and lasting value for the entire community.

If we make the question answers completely general enough to be a canonical answer, they become just something that is longer than that close message. If we make the question answers not general, the (valid and an entirely 'nother set of meta questions) critique that "yes, but my problem is different because I'm not looking into web design or mobil, but rather desktop apps vs embedded systems and that is completely different."

I am holding off on casting a close vote on this question because its the weekend (less attention to that (and this) question) and I am curious if anyone can make a good, general answer to this question that might be one that is better than the custom close vote reason. As of yet, I haven't seen any.

Do remember that there are many forms of the "what should I do next?" - this one deals only with education. There is what project, what language, what book, what job, etc... I personally don't relish having every major variation of "what should I [do|learn|read] next (given the current situation of [in school|out of school|new programmer|unhappy with job|switching career paths from [testing|support|non-technical]])".

  • If we're going to head down that route, I would recommend creating the question as a Community Wiki question. Selecting some random question to become "the" canonical just doesn't sit well with me. That having been said, I'm in favor of a canonical question as suggested.
    – user53019
    Jul 1, 2013 at 15:55
  • I remember seeing that custom close reason here on meta. If we're to adopt it, it needs to be clearer, and about half the length that it is now. Jul 1, 2013 at 17:26
  • duplicate of Why was my question closed or down voted?
    – gnat
    Sep 25, 2014 at 13:47

1 Answer 1


I'm strongly against this. I think the concept of 'canonical question' altogether won't work, it'll send the message that the topic is relevant and appropriate to ask questions regarding to the many new visitors who won't know better, further as you pointed out the answers wouldn't work for most, therefore many would think "This is on topic, but this Q doesn't answer my case, so I should ask about my particular case"

I vote no canonical Q for such things, and really no canonical Q for anything, such a Q would simply be far too broad to be useful content to begin with.

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