I realized i forgot that education and career advice is off-topic until I saw this article was flagged for that. The answer I came up with seems like it could be helpful to others as well as the OP. Is this post still off-topic?

More specifically where is the line between on-topic and off-topic for this type of question; is anything about learning and improving off-topic? or only specific job/school scenarios than won't help anyone else? This is what I had assumed.


1 Answer 1


The close reason for “career and education advice” has drifted a bit over time. Originally intended for actual career advice like “which job should I take” that are 100% specific to the asker, this close reason is now widely being used for any kinds of questions that are off topic because they are about the asker's individual learning process such as “how can I learn more about Python”.

Why are these questions not a good fit?

  • They are still specific to the asker because everyone learns differently. E.g. I value experimentation and reference documentation, other people prefer following a book, yet others learn best from a MOOC or YouTube videos. None of these approaches are wrong, but if you tell me to watch a video you haven't helped me at all.

    There are two consequences from this:

    1. Such answers aren't likely to help the asker although they might have value for other people.
    2. No answer is objectively right or wrong: there might be someone for which a suggested approach works. This indicates the question is too broad (because every answer might be valid) or opinion-based (because answers will mostly be about personal experiences). The Q&A model is not well suited for running this kind of open ended polls.
  • The next huge problem with these kinds of questions is that they encourage resource recommendations: just read this book or do that course! This suffers from the usual problems of resource recommendations, most importantly that the recommended resources might be quite out of date and no longer reflect best practices within a short time (maybe just two years). It's not like the answerer will actively come back and remove an answer that is out of date, so the site would accumulate a lot of highly upvoted bad advice over time. If questions are likely to result in resource recommendations, it is correct to close them immediately (or edit them to remove any resource requests).

    The question in question actually provides one such example. One commenter linked to the Building Skills with Python book/website. The book might have been good at the time, but is now hopelessly outdated and bad advice. It targets Python version 2.6 with side notes about 3.1, both of which have long been EOL'd. The language has evolved significantly since then and is currently at version 3.7. Even the book's author now recommends against it (but you can't see on the linked page).

To summarize: not every question about career/education advice is strictly about careers. It is also frequently used for “how to learn X” questions. This usage is more or less correct: if we didn't use that close reason, it would also fit under resource recommendations, opinion-based, or too-broad categories. When multiple close reasons can apply, choose that which you think will best give the asker feedback about their question.

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