Just found this question here:

In Engineering fields, how often do you find yourself being asked to be a "salesperson", and what is your reaction?

which is somewhat career related; probably very familiar to most engineers in one way or another too.

I would say career related question could/should be on topic. StackOverflow has outsourced them together with other "whiteboard" questions to ProgrammersExchange; but then again their community is significantly larger at the moment.

Sorry if this has been asked before; I looked but couldn't find anything.

  • $\begingroup$ You use Programmers.SE as a reference. These days the majority of career questions that get posted to Programmers.SE get downvoted and closed. $\endgroup$ Feb 8, 2015 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @NickAlexeev I don't really follow Programmers.SE that much and wasn't aware of this. I really don't mind having career questions in Engineering.SE. You could think about this as well as "how to get the job done" type questions as Fred mentioned. $\endgroup$
    – pandita
    Feb 8, 2015 at 22:12

2 Answers 2


Questions about the profession should absolutely be on-topic. Our friendly neighborhood Director of Community Development took this position prior to the beta launch:

We definitely want to include all the the socio-professional issues which are such a big part of the professional engineering association agendas. I'm hoping that these professional organizations will become a big part of this site and they are very involved in the educational advancement and professional-values aspects of engineering disciplines. They should be a most welcomed part of this site.

Of course, these sorts of questions are not exempted from general quality standards. They may be more likely to be subjective in nature, in which case it's very important to follow the guidelines for subjective questions outlined in the help center:

All subjective questions are expected to be constructive. What does that mean? Constructive subjective questions:

  • inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”
  • tend to have long, not short, answers
  • have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone
  • invite sharing experiences over opinions
  • insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references
  • are more than just mindless social fun

For more detail, read about our guidelines for great subjective questions and blog post about how real questions have answers.

It's true that Stack Overflow does not allow these sorts of questions, since they have a home at Programmers.SE. However, here are a few examples of less technical questions that have been well-received on other network sites:

  • $\begingroup$ +1, Cool. I'll leave it open for a bit in case others jump in. Great example questions btw. $\endgroup$
    – pandita
    Feb 8, 2015 at 0:02

Regarding the question you refer to, I didn't see it as a question about career, but more along the lines of "what do I need to get a job/task done or accepted". With such questions there is no easy answer. If we could witness what was going on we'd have a better understanding.

I think such questions are on topic because engineering is more than just problems solving, concepts, ideas, research, mathematics, design, economics, business models, manufacture/construction/establishment. It's also about people, personalities, human perception, convincing bosses & clients that you are right, which involves marketing and salesmanship. It's also about how tasks are achieved.

I don't know about university engineering courses these days, but when I was a student, years ago, everyone had to spend a minimum amount of time in industry getting a modicum engineering work experience before they could graduate.

Some gifted engineering types may function well in the rarefied atmosphere of academia, but in the real world clients want a tangle result and sometimes they want it yesterday and they want it to be as inexpensive as possible.

Universities can only teach so much, the rest has to be learned on the job and through experience. That's why questions like "how do I get a task done or accepted" are on topic.

  • $\begingroup$ Note that ABET in the US does not currently require work experience or internships as a component of accreditable programs. $\endgroup$
    – Air
    Feb 9, 2015 at 20:34

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