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Should we close this type of question: "Evaluating a doctoral programinstitute of CS?". On the one hand, it's somewhat similar to the type of career advice questions we do allow. On the other hand, it comes awfully close to "What are the good programs in CS?" which would definitely be closed. My incliniation would be to close it, and ask the OP for a more specific question.

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    $\begingroup$ I would be against it too. It seems very subjective, and the bit about faculty quality seems a can of worms. There have been some pretty nasty anonymous ad hominom attack in the comments section on a number of well known CS theory blogs, and I would really like to avoid seeing any of that here. $\endgroup$ Feb 21 '11 at 14:37
  • $\begingroup$ Joe, I do not think such things should influence our policies. I am not sure about that question myself. It is TCS related and can definitely only be answered by researchers but is not technical. I think making it CW would be a good compromise. We have questions asking for good books, why not also one for good environments for a PhD student? And, in the end, maybe by comparing different models here, shortcomings in programs can be identified and resolved. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Feb 21 '11 at 16:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Raphael: I would disagree. Such things should definitely influence our policies, and this is exactly why "What are the good programs in CS" is not an allowable question. Any answer to that is going to step on a lot of people's toes (although if you privately asked people in the field, nearly all of them would come up with close to the same list of the top five or six programs). This question is broad enough that it is approaching the same territory. That's why I think it should be focused to one or two of the bullet points. $\endgroup$ Feb 21 '11 at 16:40
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I guess I am not enough a creature of political correctness: stepped-on toes are no argument, imho. People should be able to provide balanced answers; if not, he won't receive one. Asking the author to narrow his question would be a good compromise, too. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Feb 21 '11 at 16:45
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    $\begingroup$ I agree with Joe and Peter. Questions like "what is the best university/department/program/area/researcher/...?" can lead to nasty things, they are too subjective. On the other hand, asking for criteria for judging seems OK to me (to some extent that it does not become nasty), but the OP needs to be more specific, if OP does not provide a set of objectives then the question seems to be a bad subjective question and should be closed. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Feb 22 '11 at 4:45
  • $\begingroup$ What about asking sth like "I want to work on X, would you rather go to school A, B or C?" $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Feb 28 '11 at 18:52
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The question as it is phrased, or as it could be phrased, asks only for criteria for judging candidate institutions/programs. If only criteria are given, then no one gets hurt (directly). As soon as names of institutions and so forth are given, then we are into the land of subjectivity, and then the question should be closed.

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  • $\begingroup$ I agree with this point, and with Neel's point below. There is a valuable discussion to be had here, but it needs to be kept on a short lease. $\endgroup$ Feb 21 '11 at 22:33
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I do not think this kind of question should be closed. Peter Shor actually gives my reason right here:

Any answer to that is going to step on a lot of people's toes (although if you privately asked people in the field, nearly all of them would come up with close to the same list of the top five or six programs).

Since the opportunity cost of a PhD relative to working as a software developer is pushing towards half a million dollars (comparing a ~100K salary as a developer to a ~25K stipend), I think we owe it to students to be very clear about the costs and benefits. Furthermore, since information like this is (a) crucial to someone about to embark on a PhD program, and (b) really only something that researchers in computer science have a clear picture of, I think this kind of question should be allowed.

That said, there is no place for malice or ad hominem attacks, but it is certainly possible to be frank without being cruel or malicious -- either of which would certainly be suitable grounds for moderator action.

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    $\begingroup$ The information is crucial, but I do not think this is the site that should provide it. It might be better to try to obtain this kind of ranking by, e.g., an anonymous poll instead of using a Q&A site where many people write with their real names. $\endgroup$ Feb 21 '11 at 22:56
  • $\begingroup$ Neel, it seems to me that the question asked by OP is quite different from the question you are talking about. You are talking about the cost/benefit of going to grad school/industry. The OP is asking about how to rank grad programs. $\endgroup$
    – Kaveh
    Feb 22 '11 at 4:50
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Yes, we should close it, because the current question is just too broad. The asker should clarify what he/she really wants to know and edit it to (or repost it as) a focused question. I do not think that whether part of the current question is subjective/argumentative/controvertial/whatever is relevant at this moment.

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I think we should close the question since e.g. last point in Sid's answer about brand names is approaching the point would lead to unwanted discussions on cstheory, IMO that question is clearly a bad subjective question in its current form.

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