I just feel that those questions would be better served by directing people to the mailing lists of their respective software packages. What does the community think?

2 Answers 2


It really depends on the nature of the question or problem. "Building installers/binaries" is overly vague -- specific examples are required and best handled on a case-by-case basis.

Indeed there can be quirks specific to certain GIS software packages, frameworks or SDKs that are certainly on-topic, but there have historically been a significant number of posts that in retrospect would have been better served by StackOverflow or another site or mailing list.


  1. Deployment options of ArcMap AddIn? - On-Topic because ArcGIS add-ins have a well defined deployment/installation process that is specific to the ArcGIS software

  2. rpy2 installation on Mac OSX. A still unresolved problem on StackExchange and rpy-list - Off-Topic because while rpy2 may be used as part of a GIS-related analysis, its installation is fairly standard and issues relating thereto should probably be handled on the rpy mailing list or perhaps SuperUser/Unix/StackOverflow.

  • On point number one, so what if it's specific to ArcGIS software? Should it matter? As for point number 2, I think it's rather discriminatory. One could argue that the GDAL installation is fairly standard as well and yet we don't close it. What makes an installation standard anyway?
    – R.K.
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 6:14
  • I would think that the second one is off-topic, because rpy2 is not a GIS software in particular, though it could be used in GIS analysis. Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 7:45
  • @R.K., 1. It matters because ArcGIS is GIS software, this is a GIS site, and the question was about using a feature of ArcGIS (the add-in framework). 2. GDAL is GIS software, rpy2 is not.
    – blah238
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 10:36
  • @DevdattaTengshe Agreed, but it might have been on-topic if the question was specifically about an issue relating to its use in GIS software (QGIS was mentioned but the problem wasn't specific to it). So it's case-by-case IMO.
    – blah238
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 10:37
  • @blah238 GDAL is not GIS. It may be an important component of most GIS programs but it is not in itself GIS. Though I get your point. Maybe we should change the site's name to geospatial or something. GIS is too limiting.
    – R.K.
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 10:53
  • I guess both points are debatable but I understand where you're coming from. The "GIS" umbrella is much larger than just ArcGIS and QGIS and includes all sorts of web mapping frameworks, ETL tools including FME and GDAL, etc.
    – blah238
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 17:49
  • I think we are using the GIS word too loosely. If we want to be more inclusive, it might be better to use the word geospatial instead. That way we can include web mapping frameworks APIs, ETL tools, and location based services. Among other things. GIS is just one tool among many.
    – R.K.
    Commented Dec 15, 2012 at 7:47

I don't see why they should be offtopic for gis.se. Here are a few more reasons why they should be allowed:

  1. The development or coding questions of GIS programms are on-topic. The development of its installer or binary should be on-top, as that is also development.
  2. Some FOSS software do not have proper build instruction for a particular Operating system, since they do not have anyone with that skillset. Asking the question on the mailing lists might not be useful.
  3. Where do you draw the line? Almost every question on this site might be asked of some other fourm or mailing list. Once could ask ArcMap usage questions on ArcGIS forums, or you could ask Qgis questions on the QGIS mailing list. Why specifically exclude this subset of questions, when they have to do with GIS software?
  4. A lot of experienced professionals are present exclusively on this site. A lot of ESRI developers have given up on the ESRI forums and answer exclusively here. Similarly I know a few QGIS developers here. I'm sure that If I ask how to create an installer for an ArcObjects custom tool, I will get an answer here in a few hours, and will take more time on ESRI Forums.
  5. Finally, and most importantly, according to the FAQ, "The Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange is for ... programmers, and anyone interested in or using GIS". These kind of questions will be asked by programmers working with GIS software, and hence should be allowed here.
  • 1
    I think a clarification is in order. anyone interested in or using GIS is rather vague. Interested in doing what?
    – R.K.
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 10:43

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