I read on the blog today that http://gadgets.stackexchange.com/ will be shutdown due to low traffic.

Joel wrote in the blog post that sites which do not reach critical mass might be shutdown in the future. If you look at our stats and the Gadgets.SE, you won't find much difference. some of the points against Gadgets.SE can be used against GIS.se as well

I'm sure that if we know the criteria for shutting down of SE sites in more detail, we'll be able to prevent it from happening.

This is Important, because none of us want to invest time and efforts on something which might not be given enough time to grow and mature.

  • I'm with ya! We need to do a serious publicity campaign to get the rest of the GIS community to step and start participating here. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 7:18
  • Subject line mismatches the content. Going on the title alone, this question belongs on meta.stackoverflow.com, because that's where the people who can actually answer hang out. However going on the content, the question actually is: "How can we keep GIS.se from getting the axe?" Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 16:18
  • @matt - changed title (was: "What's the criteria for a SE site to be closed?"). GIS.se currently has 92% of questions answered, whereas gadgets just has %80. I hope that difference is seen as significant. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 16:25
  • @Kirk- Thanks for correcting the title. Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 16:50
  • "I'm sure that if we know the criteria for shutting down of SE sites in more detail, we'll be able to prevent it from happening." please do ask on metaSO as well! Commented Sep 15, 2010 at 18:50
  • The problem with gadgets is that most of the kind of questions on there being asked already have another SE site covering them so it is a lot of repetition. Hopefully this means it has a lower theshold.
    – JamesRyan
    Commented Sep 17, 2010 at 22:54
  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic & obsolete because it is a situation that no longer present. Commented Sep 22, 2014 at 3:42
  • meta.gis.stackexchange.com/questions/3629/…
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Sep 23, 2014 at 0:18

6 Answers 6


I disagree that the stats for Gadgets.se are close to GIS.se. Sure they have, at present, more users and more questions, however the ratios are quite dissimilar. For example they have almost a 2:1 ratio for answers to questions, whereas ours our nearly 3:1. So fewer questions, but more active participation on each. We also have more than 90% questions marked as answered. GIS.se is ranked 21 out of 28 at http://stackexchange.com/sites. Interestingly, it's only 2 ahead of gadgets but there are 5 below gadgets not getting the axe (right now).

The essence of the article is summarized in "So, essentially, a site needs either traffic or good answers, but if it has neither, we don’t think it will work.". Admittedly at this point we don't have so much traffic, but we do have good answers. Off course it's not my opinion that counts. :) The yellow flag you raise is well taken and we should heed it. More visitors, more eyeballs, more contributions well help. In my opinion more important though is great answers.

So what does that mean? Time. Don't worry about beating the "other guy" to answering the question. Spend the time to proof read your own contributions. Explicate, add examples, link to source material. A one or two sentence answer may be correct, but that doesn't mean it's good.

When you see a great answer, vote it up and add a comment about what in particular makes it good. This will encourage more of the same.

As for gathering traffic: when you discover a solution here to one of your problems, write about it somewhere else! Tell them how much of a time saver it was or how it expanded your understanding.

If there isn't anything to write about except "hey come help build this great thing" then the site really isn't working.

  • 3
    addendum to how to write a good answer: read the question at least thrice! I can't count the number of times I've spent 20 oe 30 minutes concocting a "great answer", only to realise as I'm about to hit the submit button that I've gone off on a tangent and am missing the central point. Commented Sep 21, 2010 at 19:37

GIS.se is by far the most active technically related GIS forum I've been to or used that isn't on ESRI's page.

It's far more active and useful than GISCafe or GISLounge. I hope to keep this place active and useful for all for a very long time.

  • 6
    +1 I'm also not aware of any comparable site.
    – underdark
    Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 8:21

The GIS culture is partly to blame, in my opinion. This site is better than the ESRI forums, and I hype it as much as I can, but I don't get the same energy from visiting that I do from SO or the various open source communities out there. Many of the questions are pretty mundane, mine included.

This blog post pertains to the .NET community, but much of it applies to the GIS (esp. ESRI) community, maybe more so. In short, the community does not collaborate much and relies too heavily on commercial vendors rather than independent innovation and problem-solving.

I'm hopeful that GIS.se will change the GIS culture, but it will take time.

  • Wholeheartedly agree. Commented Sep 24, 2010 at 18:30
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    I also agree that culture is a big problem. Learned helplessness is endemic. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Learned_helplessness We need to take a step back and think about ways we program our own brains as we develop solutions. Maybe we should resurrect the paleo-neo war - not just to increase our page views, but to shake things up a bit. Commented Sep 25, 2010 at 4:07
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    I don't get the same energy from visiting that I do from SO - I disagree with that. Most of the posts I see on SO have very few votes, comments or answers when compared to the posts here Commented Nov 24, 2011 at 3:04

A lot of technical folks, myself included, became interested in blogging a couple of years ago. Since then, there's been a decline in the number of people blogging about technical tips and tricks. The motivation of these bloggers is to establish a reputation. Just go through the Contributor list at Planet Geospatial to examine the trend for last two years. Generally you will see a gradual decline in activity.

We need to show how SE provides bloggers a better (or at least complimenting) way to establish reputation. One of the hardest things about blogging is picking subjects that are relevant to readers. SE solves that by letting users vote on questions.

  • 1
    It's also a lot less effort to answer questions than to write a good blog post. Answering questions has an implied context and your answer can be much smaller, more focused on a single technical point, than is needed for a readable blog post.
    – Andy Dent
    Commented Oct 3, 2010 at 10:27
  • Yeah, I think the attraction of smaller posts has led many former bloggers to twitter. I'm not a twitter user, but perhaps an option that allows one to automatically tweet ones' questions/responses could be useful. Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 18:16

One thing that I can think of (and that I actually felt was missing at the last FOSS4G) is to advertise for the site on conferences and GIS events. Leaving a few flyers captioned "Any questions?" on the one side and "invalidgeometry.com" on the other might attract more of the puzzled masses. Or just mention it in a lightning talk. And I am quite certain that quality is distilled out of quantity in this type of sites.

  • I am now including this link in all of my talks. And you should too! ;)
    – relet
    Commented Dec 9, 2010 at 9:05

Just my two cents but I feel GIS SE is dominated by a small group of dedicated (and technically excellent) experts and we need a much broader base answering and voting on questions to survive. This small but strong group was also active on the ESRI forums and that died. We have enough GIS users but not a big enough base.

  • I completely agree. One of the things I sense is that of the large number of 'users' we have, many are in fact zombie accounts. They are people who have signed up, asked a single question, got down-voted immediately and have never returned. The culture of down-voting (including this answer) is hurting our larger base and wider participation. This is a prime example: gis.stackexchange.com/questions/115278/… Commented Sep 26, 2014 at 15:41

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