Are questions about the following considered off-topic?

  • How do I get certified for [xyz]
  • What are the necessary course requirements to become an [xyz]
  • How to validate and upgrade my knowledge of [xyz] with [abc]

The help does show this to be off-topic, if it is encompassed by "career advice".

If these types of questions are "off-topic", should we create tag wikis for certification-related tags that steer posters away from these types of questions?

For instance, I just submitted a tag wiki edit for containing the following:

Certification is the process of becoming certified to a particular standard in a particular field. Questions relating to the certification process are off-topic for [dba.se]. Please see the help center regarding which questions are considered on-topic.

  • 4
    The help does show this to be off-topic, if it is encompassed by "career advice".
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:48
  • Yes. Yes it is.
    – Zane
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:51
  • lol, don't add answers as comments, plus vote!
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Jan 8 '16 at 21:53
  • 3
    Well you started it :)
    – Paul White Mod
    Jan 8 '16 at 22:04

This has been somewhat discussed before:

Are DBA certification questions appropriate?
Can I ask conversational questions? (Training)

I think the vast majority of questions about certification will be off-topic for one of the usual reasons, but that's not quite the same as saying that any question that mentions certification will be automatically off-topic.

We should continue to evaluate each question on its merits.

Regarding the specific examples:

How to validate and upgrade my knowledge of SQL Server with MCSA - closed.

What are the necessary course requirements to become a DBA? - closed

I couldn't immediately find a (non-deleted) example for "How do I get certified for [xyz]" but similar questions seemed very likely to be closed or deleted already.

There are only two questions in total tagged , both of which are now closed, so I'm not sure I see any value in this tag at all.

I'm tempted to say we should delete the two closed off-topic questions so the tag naturally expires.

I just submitted a tag wiki edit for containing the following:

It seems odd to edit the wiki to say certification questions are off-topic while at the same time asking if that is so on meta! Also, there are only 2 questions tagged this way today. My feeling is that this sort of advice in tag excerpts or wikis is not particularly effective (or desirable in general).

On the basis that we haven't established that all questions tagged will always be off-topic, I have rejected the wiki edit.


  1. I have removed from the two questions mentioned. It will cease to exist in due course.
  2. Now completed - the tag has gone.
  • 2
    thanks for digging up those first two links. Interesting questions.
    – Hannah Vernon Mod
    Jan 8 '16 at 23:21

I think a question tagged with only will serve no purpose. It will be much too generic to be of value to readers.

"Oh, I came here to learn about DB2 certification, why is there all this Hadoop stuff mixed in my tag?"

Using Microsoft exam criteria, some of the questions might even violate the NDA test takers agree to.

Copying, publishing, disclosing, transmitting, selling, offering to sell, posting, downloading, distributing in any way, or otherwise transferring, modifying, making derivative works of, reverse engineering, decompiling, disassembling, or translating any exam in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, verbal or written, electronic or mechanical, for any purpose

I could see the certification exam tag only being a useful thing in conjunction with another tag. "On the SQL Server 2013 exam 40-281, the test material indicates WITH (NOLOCK) is performant. Could you help me understand the nuances of this?"

Otherwise, a tag like certification is about as useful as , , or

  • 1
    At that point I feel like there's a better tag than "certification", maybe "test-taking". Because it could be that you want to know how to go about certifying a database for something...
    – jcolebrand Mod
    Jan 11 '16 at 18:59
  • 1
    The weird thing about the query and insert tags is they have hundreds of followers. Don't ask me why.
    – Paul White Mod
    Jan 11 '16 at 19:05
  • 2
    – billinkc
    Jan 11 '16 at 19:06
  • 1
    (I also thought I was making up fake tags for the first two)
    – billinkc
    Jan 11 '16 at 19:06

I don't come on this site for career advice.

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