I've recently been pondering a lot of questions about my specific career circumstances and the direction of the geospatial industry (broadly speaking) as a whole. I believe at least some of these would make for great discussion topics on GIS.SE, but as someone who tries to ask good questions for good answers, I'm not totally clear on how to do so.

There are some good questions out there that generally get shipped off to community wiki, and then there are some general questions that get closed as too broad. There seems to be a fine line to walk to avoid being too broad while still delivering the heart of the question. For example, if I were to ask hypothetical questions like:

Which has better career prospects: industry X or industry Y?


How will innovations in technology X affect industry Y?

That feels decidedly too broad and with no right answer. If I were to ask a question like:

I am a [this job title] in industry X. I have the opportunity to take [that job title] in industry Y. I have skills A, B and C. I would like to develop skills D, E and F. What should I do?

That's specific (and perhaps a bit compromising), but the question is still problematic because it seems totally opinion based and could possibly spark argument. A question like:

What is the projected growth rate of industry X?

...totally guts the question.

There are other stackexchange sites that specialize in these types of questions (workplace and programmers come to mind), but our industry is so small and specific I feel these questions are best directed to people working in geospatial fields.

I take it that because of the positive reception of a lot of the "good" career and industrial questions are fair game on GIS.SE. I'm curious though--what is the proper way to ask the "good questions" without being 1) too broad or 2) compromising the purpose of the question by being too narrow? Are there any accepted SE guidelines for asking these kinds of career questions?

3 Answers 3


First off I think Good Subjective, Bad Subjective should be required reading for any potentially subjective question. However, I don't know of any accepted SE guidelines for career-related questions. I just know that career-development questions have been more or less eradicated on StackOverflow by a Mass clean-up of career-development questions, so they certainly do not think highly of them.

However, we are our own site and we can make that judgement call ourselves. So far it seems that as long as you make your prior research, motivations and expectations clear, and make the question applicable to others and not just yourself, such questions would be allowed.

In your expectations, you should be certain to limit the scope to something answerable in a few paragraphs, not much more. Of course this applies to all questions, not just career-development ones. This also ties into How to Ask and How to Frame a Good Question.

  • +1 for the Good Subjective, Bad Subjective link. That was really informative. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 22:09

I would prefer to see fewer rather than more career-related questions here because the users most likely to be seeking career advice seem often to be amongst those least likely to read Good Subjective, Bad Subjective.

My view on career-related questions is pretty much summed up in this answer from Meta Programmers SE:

Questions seeking career or education advice are off topic on Programmers. They are only meaningful to the asker and do not generate lasting value for the broader programming community. Furthermore, in most cases, any answer is going to be a subjective opinion that may not take into account all the nuances of a (your) particular circumstance.

Also, there is a wording in your question that I would like to draw attention to because I think it is fundamental to Stack Exchange philosophy:

I believe at least some of these would make for great discussion topics on GIS.SE

From Is Stack Overflow[/Exchange] a forum?:

Stack Exchange encourages specific questions that have specific, canonical answers. A question is asked and respondents weigh in with a carefully-thought-out response which is then vetted through voting and wiki-editing (improving on the answer).

The key difference is that each answer posted has to stand on its own. Stack Exchange neither supports nor encourages a "forum-style" of open, free-for-all discussion (many-to-many conversations). This is by design.

  • 1
    Is there any non vendor site where people can go to have this kind of GIS discussion these days? CartoTalk is the only one i can think of.
    – SeaJunk
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 17:10
  • @SeaJunk As answered by radouxju an option would be our GIS Chat Room.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Sep 5, 2014 at 22:42
  • Thanks for the CartoTalk reference @SeaJunk ! Looks like something that would be beneficial for me.
    – user21482
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 7:23

I think that this kind of question should be in chat rooms because the answers tend to change with the time.

Unfortunately the GIS Chat Room is currently underused.

  • it is blocked at some work places...
    – Mapperz Mod
    Commented Mar 19, 2015 at 20:15

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