This Question was recently closed as being primarily opinion-based. (I agree that is was opinion based, but I feel that it falls within the Good Subjective category and shouldn't have been closed. However that is a different discussion, and is not relevant to this question)

blah238 made substantial edits to it, and I am not comfortable with the changes that have been made. I feel that the question has been edited so much, it is a totally new question.

The earlier question was basically :"I don't understand why people use ArcGIS. Can you tell me why people rely on ArcGIS in-spite of its shortcomings?" The new question basically asks: "If you use ArcGIS products, please explain why. If you don't, please explain why not." This massive edit has totally changed the nature and the intent of the question.

I would not mind a new question with 0 answers being edited, since there are no legacy answers that seem out of place. In this case, most of the answers feel out of place, since they talk only about the strengths of ArcGIS, and not comparing ArcGIS and other platforms. The Highest voted answers are pretty bad answers to the question as it has been edited.

I understand that in the world of wiki-style editing and cc by-sa 3.0 licensing, no one owns a question, but I feel that these massive edits are far too much.

Further more, I don't even see how asking "If you use ArcGIS products, please explain why. If you don't, please explain why not." makes it an objective question. This is basically calling for a discussion, which is frowned upon in the Stack Exchange Universe.

I would feel far more comfortable if a new question was opened, and this question was restored to its original state. (Whether it is reopened or kept closed, doesn't matter in this discussion)

Now that I've expressed my opinion, I'll like to know what others feel.

I'll like to build a consensus on what to do in these kinds of situations. How much editing is possible, until it becomes a whole different question?

2 Answers 2


To directly answer your Question, I think how much a Question can be edited before it is a different Question is something we each have our own line on. However, the degree of editing on this one, albeit well intentioned and far from reckless, was more than I would be comfortable to do.

However, going back to the trigger for this discussion, I did vote to Close the Question as being too likely to generate opinions, and prior to that had tried to focus it on ArcGIS for Desktop rather than the ArcGIS Platform because it seemed to me that it (and the Answers) were at least 80% (probably more than 90%) related to that product rather than something even broader. The latter (not later) action was a mistake, but I think the former remains sound because that Q&A could be pointed to as a precedent for why a similar Question today could be asked.

I also voted to leave it Closed after @blah238's edits but much more because I thought it still too likely to generate opinions than the degree of editing involved.

I was unaware of the existence of Historical Locks which can be requested from the moderators when:

  1. The post is Off-Topic or Not Constructive, and
  2. The post is stellar, in spite of its off-topic nature, and
  3. There are a large number of views, upvotes and inbound links on the post, and
  4. The post is contentious; i.e. it has been closed and reopened at least once, or deleted and undeleted at least once

Without hesitation, I think this Q&A ticks all those boxes, and I applaud the wording placed on such a Question:

This question exists because it has historical significance, but it is not considered a good, on-topic question for this site, so please do not use it as evidence that you can ask similar questions here.

Thankyou for alerting me to Historical Locks because I now think the best action will be to rollback the edits by both @blah238 and myself, leaving any earlier edits, and to request that an Historical Lock be placed upon it.

  • I guess I am still not convinced that it passes the first test. Also technically it has not been closed and reopened yet :) I'd like to see it reopened (currently at 4/5 votes) and see if any more well-reasoned answers (not rants) come out of it. That was kind of the point of the edits.
    – blah238
    Jun 24, 2014 at 7:07
  • 2
    @blah238 I just gave the 5/5 vote for re-opening to help let things take their course.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Jun 24, 2014 at 7:25

Thanks for starting the discussion. As the person who made the edits, of course I considered whether it was appropriate to make such sweeping changes to the original question.

A few facts that played into my decision-making:

  • The Q&A had just been put on hold after 3 years of its life (perhaps we need a separate discussion on why that was done)
  • The Q&A has 14k+ views and is in the top 50 most upvoted questions on the site
  • Several recent answers had received numerous downvotes (i.e. it was continuing to attract controversial answers/rants)
  • The question was full of typos and irrelevant (in my opinion) fluff text
  • The question had been recently tagged with (which in my opinion wasn't quite right because of the numerous non-"desktop" products discussed)

Given all that, I thought it would be best to make the changes all at once to clean it up, and if need be those changes can rolled back or edited upon further. Better to be bold and all.

But I think it would be a shame if a top 50 question were closed without any attempt to salvage it, or any kind of discussion (like this one!).

  • 6
    I'm glad that you have explained why you made these changes. I agree that something needs to be done, but I do not think that making such wide-ranging changes is the right solution. Maybe an Historic Lock would be a better idea? Jun 24, 2014 at 5:01
  • 2
    That seems more reasonable than closure. Alternatively we could just make it protected so new and very low reputation users cannot edit or add answers to it.
    – blah238
    Jun 24, 2014 at 5:03
  • 2
    There is rollback system (mods only) - it has been set to revision six (polygeo) this can be protected now at this point.
    – Mapperz Mod
    Jun 24, 2014 at 13:39
  • 2
    @Mapperz any reason for protecting it instead of locking it (historic lock)?
    – underdark
    Jun 24, 2014 at 16:53
  • @underdark maybe stating the obvious, but protecting it still allows new answers, while locking it does not.
    – blah238
    Jun 24, 2014 at 19:57
  • 1
    @blah238 right. i kind of expected that we wanted to avoid more answers ...
    – underdark
    Jun 25, 2014 at 7:03
  • @underdark well my edit was an attempt to curate the discussion into something more productive but as it has been rolled back, I will leave it up to others to decide what to do with it. IMO new answers are fine as long as they aren't rants, but if the question is deemed to be "Off-Topic or Not Constructive" then yeah, lock it.
    – blah238
    Jun 25, 2014 at 7:10
  • 2
    Protect only stops new and < 10 users from answering, which certainly may help. Leaving it open for more answers as an acceptable community question/discussion/whatever is fine and perhaps desirable. Perhaps a graduated response - it's been protected, but if it continues to attract rants and controversial/downvoted answers, and moderators are frequently having to deal with flags from the same question (ie your third bullet), maybe the discussion aspect has run its useful course and it gets locked.
    – Chris W
    Jun 26, 2014 at 1:28

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