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I note several Programmers questions have been closed as off-topic for seeking career or education advice (e.g., here, there). I'd like to ask a question about what academic schools/departments have {good reputations for teaching, award recognized credentials for} scientific computing (esp Fortran for large-scale Earth-system modeling), but suspect that question would goto /dev/closed. Am I missing something? If not, I'd appreciate recommendations for online resources (lists, websites, etc) to ask such questions; moreover I'd defend this question as on-topic precisely because it would generate lasting value for the broader programming community, and particularly for this site (by allowing the question police to redirect questions rather than merely shutting them down).

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What academic schools/departments have {good reputations for teaching, award recognized credentials for} scientific computing (esp. Fortran for large-scale Earth-system modeling)

The first thing to consider with this hypothetical question is that the universities that the professors teaching these classes change. The university I went to was at one time databases and networking. The two professors that were there that really lead these areas have since retired and now the department seems to be a bit more focused on high performance and massively distributed computing. A few of the other professors that were paticuarlly noteworthy (when I went there) have since either gone to the industry or gotten hired away to other universities (those are names that I recognize - I'm sure there are other ones there now).

The point I'm trying to make there is that this information is transient. You'll have certain departments that focus on something while there is leadership in that area, and then as they either retire or go somewhere else, or a new professor is able to take leadership in a different direction for focus, the information will change.

The constantly changing nature of the answers to this type of question doesn't really make for a good question in the Q&A framework.


Another point to consider is that Programmers.SE tends to be industry programmers. While many (certainly not all) of us were in academia at one time, for many of us it was a decade or two ago. The "what school has this" isn't that interesting of a question to the people providing answers (and we really haven't kept up on this - we got our degree, used it to get the first interview and haven't looked back). This isn't to say that it's not interesting to you, but in general I feel that I can say it's not interesting to much of the people answering.

This is an important point - it is keeping the questions on track so that there are interesting questions for people to click on and answer needs to be a focus for the site.


The last point that I wish to make is that you have the exact same resources that we do to answer your question. Search "earth modeling fortran" on google scholar (earth modeling computing) and find the associations of the different people and where they are now. Any other answers would be rumor and guessing.

That I could come up with a reasonable answer for this without having touched fortran since it was taught to me (f90 was still in its infancy - I learned f77 and such large scale system computing was the work of government agencies) means that the skill needed to come up with an answer isn't one that draws from my experience as a programmer, but rather my skill with knowing how to use google.

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In our experience, resource recommendation questions and career/education advice questions like the one you're suggesting do not "generate lasting value" because:

  1. The answers are guaranteed to change over time. A question about design patterns or algorithms is likely to remain useful for a very long time, but which schools are good at what or what websites are good at what is definitely going to change every few years, maybe even every few months. Stack Exchange is simply not designed to handle questions whose answers are constantly changing, so it's best to ask those questions elsewhere.

  2. Many of these questions depend so heavily on individual circumstances that answering them correctly requires not research into the issue, but a lengthy discussion with the asker. This is what I call "professional advice". It's also something that Stack Exchange simply isn't designed for. It's essentially the same reason we don't offer legal advice (aside from the fact that we aren't lawyers), why Mi Yodeya doesn't answer rabbinical advice, and why Christianity.SE doesn't offer pastoral advice; when you want those things, what you really need to sit down and talk to the right kind of professional face-to-face. In this case, some kind of career advisor.

That said, there are Stack Exchange sites that do successfully cater to some of the subsets of career advice questions and education advice questions that actually are answerable in ways that provide lasting value. Namely, The Workplace and Academia.SE. But I don't think either of them accept questions about recommending careers/education institutions to specific individuals for precisely the same reasons I just gave. You may wish to browse their meta sites to see if they have any similar explanations.

  • personalised career guidance is off-topic at Workplace: "Questions asking for advice on what to do are not practical answerable questions (e.g. "what job should I take?", or "what skills should I learn?")..." – gnat Dec 20 '15 at 14:08
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    Academia has a very similar close reason in their help center: However, please do not ask questions about ... Suggestions or recommendations for a university, journal, or research topic (a "shopping question") – user40980 Dec 20 '15 at 14:42

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