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I've been working in Business Intelligence for a long time, and I'm considering changing the focus of my career to data science. Is Data Science the proper place to ask generic advice questions such as "should I take the Cloudera Data Scientist certification?"

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  • $\begingroup$ I suggest to try for "Data Engineer" first, this should have more overlap with what you already do. $\endgroup$ – power Jun 13 '14 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ Can you provide a link to that certification? $\endgroup$ – Santiago Cepas Jun 13 '14 at 9:28
  • $\begingroup$ It's a job title, not a certification. Also, do not assume that a course will teach you to do the job. $\endgroup$ – power Jun 13 '14 at 12:27
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No. Career advice questions are a problematic area that is extremely opinion oriented, specific to an individual, and in some ways fairly broad depending on how the question is put across. These questions are never good for a site, moreover, the same career question can be repeated 10s of times with minor modifications making every of them seem unique, even though it may all boil down to the same set of facts or opinions.

Career advice should be explicitly off-topic.


We are already seeing variations of the same question being asked multiple times on the site and we haven't even been in beta for a month.

All three focus on the same thing; how to get started as a data scientist.


Also, I am not saying that these questions cannot work at all. I am saying that they have not worked in the past; but it is entirely possible that it may be possible to make them work given certain constraints and guidelines. However, without and until any suggestions or discussion in this direction, I think they should be closed to maintain quality and focus of the site.

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  • $\begingroup$ Discouraging questions in the early stages can be very damaging. We have a community that is very limited in size, so anything that discourages participation should be minimized. Just my opinion. $\endgroup$ – Steve Kallestad Jun 11 '14 at 5:54
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    $\begingroup$ @SteveKallestad - however, encouraging questions that we know aren't good questions will lead to problems later on when we try to tighten up the scope of the site. Please listen to those of us who've nursed several sites though beta and onto graduation. $\endgroup$ – user693 Jun 11 '14 at 18:31
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A few months in now, I see that questions related to data science as a career are sort of popular, and get decent answers. I see why career questions are generally off-topic for StackOverflow, but it could be that right now, the calculus for data science is just different, and this is something people want to talk about.

Concretely, I feel uneasy closing several career questions that got a decent discussion, and have hesitated to do so recently.

I'm wondering if others feel the same at this point? comment or share your separate answer.

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  • $\begingroup$ I feel exactly the same. I do agree career questions are not the main goal of DS, but people who deal with DS would probably be the best to discuss what paths/decisions to take, and, mostly, to say why. I'm also hesitating about closing such questions. $\endgroup$ – Rubens Oct 25 '14 at 13:07
  • $\begingroup$ What decent discussions are you thinking of in particular? $\endgroup$ – Air Oct 27 '14 at 18:48
  • $\begingroup$ This is not awesome, but not bad: datascience.stackexchange.com/questions/1216/… I feel funny closing it since it is a disproportionately common and important question for 'data science' $\endgroup$ – Sean Owen Oct 27 '14 at 22:36
  • $\begingroup$ There are lots of common and important questions that don't fit the Stack Exchange format. IMO, that's unambiguously one of them and belongs on a discussion forum. $\endgroup$ – Air Oct 29 '14 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ Part of the problem with questions like these is everyone wants their own answers. I'm not 35, can I work in Big Data? I'm not in IT but I have a math education, can I work in Big Data? I live in Venezuela, is there a job for me in Big Data? Here's my CV; what about me? These are popular questions because they're easy to answer; give an opinion and wait for points to roll in. But there could be dozens of equally valid, non-overlapping, even disagreeing answers. In the end it's a discussion forum topic disguised as expert Q&A and antithetical to SE's mission. $\endgroup$ – Air Oct 29 '14 at 16:58
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Generally No. But I guess if we have to get out of Beta, we gotta encourage every question that is related to Data Science in any form. We can continue with the career related questions for a few week and after that mark them off-topic.

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I'm new, but my mindset is that if it's related even a little bit, during the beta you should ask it and you shouldn't be discouraged.

3 weeks into the beta and there are only 70 questions on the board. There's no reason to avoid asking anything at this point.

It could potentially get a series of questions asked with a "career" tag that could liven things up a bit.

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