We have a tag career and a tag advice. We don't have a flood of questions under these tags, but for several reasons I think it would also be appropriate for us to have a bit more guidance on meta about when exactly it's appropriate to ask questions which would fall under such tags:
Career and advice questions are not about mathematics per se, which certainly puts such questions outside the central aim of MO's scope.
Giving really good career advice requires knowing more about someone's situation than is typically appropriate to post publicly on the internet. So by entertaining such questions, we risk giving misleading answers. There's even a real possibility of harm in doing so.
Relatedly, good career advice has limited generalizability beyond the situation of the individual questioner.
There is perhaps a place for giving "general advice" or "rules of thumb", as one might give to a mathematician in any private setting. But the public nature of MO and the absence of various contextual information about a questioner's situation which is normally taken for granted in other similar "advice-giving" situations I think means that one should at least approach giving advice on MO a bit differently than one might be accustomed to. It is worth spelling out what some of these differences are.
Besides reminding advice-seekers to talk to people they know and not just strangers on the internet, it's possible that there are other places on the internet more suitable for various kinds of advice questions than here. It may be worth compiling a list of such places.
Here is a general Meta SE question on where in the network certain "career advice"-type questions are acceptable.
So my Questions are:
Are "career advice" questions ever suitable for MO?
If so, under what circumstances?
Conversely, under what circumstances are "career advice" questions not suitable for MO?
If a "career advice" question is suitable for MO and one decides to answer it, what special considerations should one keep in mind in doing so?
As a final note, I think perhaps the status quo is that such questions are likely to be closed, but before closure they are not unlikely to attract comments or even answers which do provide the requested advice, and so the question may serve its intended purpose anyway.
- Is the status quo as I described it a workable way to approach these matters?
P.S. Feel free to edit the tags on this question; I must admit I am not terribly familiar with the meta tags.