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Whenever I look at certification questions on the front page or in tags, they seem to be closed.

Why is this?

29

Questions about certifications have a number of issues facing them. It is possible to ask a good question about certifications, but there are quite a few questions that don't generate good content for the site.

Timeliness

One certification question I recall seeing was one about what certification for Java 1.5 replaced one that was out there for Java 1.4. As of this writing Java 1.7 is the target and 1.8 is just around the corner.

With the wild, weird, fast changing variety of tools and technologies, the companies offering the certificates, the prerequisites to the certificates, and the certificates themselves are constantly being changed. Something that is valid today may be completely gone with the next release of the software.

This leads to a nearly endless stream of "what certificate replaces ${previous certificate}?" questions with constantly changing answers.

Spam

Many of the companies that do certificates do so for the money (not all, just most). Likewise, there are countless companies that offer training and materials for the certificates. When someone asks How do you study for MCPD? it attracts spam from people advertising their own materials - be it a website with advertisements peppering the page or "buy this book for ${lots}". Those with 10k rep, you can see exactly that in the linked question:

http://i.stack.imgur.com/XlouH.png

Value

Outside from a few big name certifications the general consensus of the community is they're worthless (see Are certifications worth it?). To this extent, one could argue that by not helping you get a certification, you are being helped... in some sort of twisted logic. The essence is still there though.

Career / Education Advice

Many of the questions are also of the "what do I need to learn or study for ${cert}" or "what certification will help me get my next job?". These questions are exactly the type of question that the career and education advice close reason means to cover.

The problem with this is that besides the "certificates are not helpful" belief, the one that may help you is very particular to your own situation that doesn't translate well to other people.

Googlable results

What is left tends to be things of the nature that are trivially googlable. A recent question: Is it necessary to pass the MTA certification to get MCSD? when searching google gives the top result the material that is in the answer - from Microsoft.

google results

Many questions are similar to this, asking about current requirements for a certification or information about it. The information provided through Google that links to the current information on the certificate site will be more up to date than a question on Programmers.SE.

Unless someone familiar with the question stumbles across it (they likely won't be searching for it) and provides a new answer to the question with the up to date information, these questions rapidly become wrong and useless.

4

To add to Michael's excellent answer, many such questions are little more than homework questions, asking for answers to sample questions.
Typically something along the line of "the book has a question XXXXXX, why does it say the answer is B".
Except the cases where such sample questions are wrong (and there are bad practice exams out there, I know), simply studying for the exam should teach why that's the answer, yet all too many seem to think that just cramming the answers to practice exams will get them a good score on the real one.

-8

Not every question on certification exams are about answers to sample questions.

I googled "certification exams" on StackOverflow and was ultimately led to meta.programmers.Stackex where it seems a good number of certification exams- related questions were in fact moved. If these sites are simply for questions that generate a whole lot of content, then maybe that ought to be included in the bylaws somewhere. By knowing that, I would know to maybe test my question on some other none StackOverflow-related forum, before making my decision on whether it does or does not generate enough content for StackOverflow.

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    It is one thing to ask a question about a question on the (practice) exam. It is another thing to ask for support information about the exam itself (what to study, requirements for it, etc...). Yes, certifications are products. Asking what to study for an exam is just as appropriate to ask as how to work around a bug in Visual Studio - they are both support questions that need to be addressed to the organization that is support it. This is especially true when the product is likely to change over time. – user40980 Dec 31 '15 at 16:21
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    I have no idea what this answer says, – Lightness Races with Monica Dec 31 '15 at 16:22

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