[Update: distinguished between GE and GE-API, and added 5th option]

The elephant in the room: Google Earth Plugin and Stack Overflow/Exchange

There have already been discussions on SO vs GIS.SE and I think there was some consensus:

Generally, questions on

  • using GIS => GIS Stack Exchange
  • programming regarding GIS, but not depending on GIS knowledge => Stack Overflow
  • programming requiring GIS knowledge => GIS Stack Exchange

Specifically, questions on Arc* at SO should be monitored by us and be encouraged to move here (according to the above general rules).

There have already been discussions on providing support for GIS tools -- vendors vs GIS.SE -- and again I think there was some consensus:

  • We like cooperation between GIS vendors and GIS.SE.
  • Vendors who abandon their customers and send them to us without so much as a "please" or "thankyou", should get their bottoms smacked.

The Google Developers site https://developers.google.com/earth/forum/ is still active and yet it says

Important: We’re moving our support forums for KML and Google Earth API technical questions to Stack Overflow


Over at SO, the current (2013-12-21) stats for two GE tags:

google-earth            x 581, 7 this month, 210 this year
google-earth-plugin     x 429, 6 this month, 171 this year

While here at GIS.SE, the GE tags stats are pitifull by comparison:

google-earth            x 164, 0 this month,  69 this year
google-earth-enterprise x   3, 0 this month,   2 this year
google-earth-pro        x   2, 0 this month,   0 this year

FYI, it's even worse at Super User:

google-earth            x  39, 0 this month,   9 this year

So what are we to do?

  1. Apply the same policy for GE as we do for Arc*? If so, does anybody actually go to SO and encourage questions on Arc*, requiring GIS knowledge, to come here instead? And does anybody at SO do it?
  2. Ask Google and SO to revise their nearly 15-month-old policy so everything is consistent with our own policy? Seems ideal but impractical.
  3. Keep our existing policy but add an exception for GE (i.e., send all GE questions to SO!)?
  4. Keep our existing policy and ignore the elephant in the room? Personally, I'm very interstd in GE and KML, but my room is too small for elephants. (Talking of elephants, we don't seem to have the same problem with PostGIS!)
  5. Keep our existing policy but add an exception for the GE-API/Plugin (i.e., send GE API/Plugin questions to SO!)? And keep questions about using the stand-alone GE application, and about understanding the graticule, loxodromes, or coordinates, etc, here.

3 Answers 3


preferably option 1

I'd prefer if we could apply the same policy as for any other GIS product. The problem seems to be that Google's instructions point to stackoverflow ... I guess we could try to ask Google to update their instructions to point to GIS.SE but the world is not going to end if they don't.


I think it should be option 1.

W.r.t. "does anybody actually go to SO and encourage questions on Arc*, requiring GIS knowledge, to come here instead?" ...

I do occasionally, and predominantly when Questions there are on ArcGIS for Desktop or ArcPy.

Originally, I just made a Comment under the Question along the lines of "I'm not sure if you are aware of the GIS Stack Exchange". However, I have since found it cleaner to just flag such Questions as needing SO moderator attention with a note like "Looks suitable for migration to GIS Stack Exchange". They seem to get migrated within a day.

I often get comments back from the asker that they were not aware of GIS-SE and will post here in future.


As a GIS-specific developer, I mainly hang around on SO rather than here - if a question either:

  • doesn't require specific programming knowledge, or
  • is actually asking about a spatial data workflow,

I comment or flag it to be moved here. If it's a programming question I'll answer it (if possible) in place unless it's such an obscure question that only a GIS person would know the answer.

So I slightly disagree with martin's third category (programming requiring GIS knowledge => GIS Stack Exchange) in that the number of programmers on SO outweighs the number of GIS people with programming experience on GIS.SE, therefore a programming question is more likely to get a good answer over there unless it's highly GIS-specific.

The tag on SO gets a few questions that really belong here, but most are asking about the various APIs.


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