In reference to this question about being a professor, this is impossible to answer within the context of how SE wants us to answer questions. There's no definite answer, and even more so, there's no "right" answer. That being said, the question is valid, and probably fairly common. Should we allow that sort of question here?
Based on the example questions asked in the definition phase, I think Academia.StackExchange will have more subjective questions than technical questions. Many of the people who have committed to this site, including myself, seek advice and wisdom from those who have more experience in academia about people, institutions, etiquette, best practices, and personal preferences--all very subjective ideas. This is very different from the objective questions and answers about programming found on other StackExchange sites.
Some of these subjective questions will veer too far from the realm of usefulness. But some will be very useful. If you look at the top voted questions on many StackExchange sites, the open-ended ones are often the most popular. Nonetheless, the StackExchange blog has some general guidelines for which of these "subjective" questions should be allowed:
- Great subjective questions inspire answers that explain “why” and “how”.
- Great subjective questions tend to have long, not short, answers.
- Great subjective questions have a constructive, fair, and impartial tone.
- Great subjective questions invite sharing experiences over opinions.
- Great subjective questions insist that opinion be backed up with facts and references.
- Great subjective questions are more than just mindless social fun.
Yes, we should allow some of these sort of questions here. Occasionally.
But certainly not during the private beta, when we're trying to build up a body of exemplary questions and answers.
I think this question https://academia.stackexchange.com/q/49/96 , and any others like it, should be considered as deletion candidates during the private beta.
I voted to close on the particular example of the What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a professor? question, but I think that most of the time the question can be rephrased to focus on the specific case of the OP. Here, jeremy is considering moving to academia, he can be really specific and ask targeted informations.
Ok, here are my 2c.
We all agree this SE can be more opinion-based than the rest of the club. Most of the stuff we deal with are relative to local lore, habits, or unwritten rules of conduct that may or may not depend on the institute, country, contract type, and professor attitude, and group mechanics.
About the question under discussion, yes, it is potentially less on-topic than the rest, but it's only one, not a class of questions. We take the tooth out once and for all. the question just sits there with its (mostly good) answers, it's technically "on-topic" for the site, and it's very likely to be asked in the future by anyone having this curiosity.