I noticed an issue this morning with the tag for . It appears the excerpt was too long and was being truncated when viewed on the tags page or with a mouseover. While the full text began with "Use the raster tag for questions about raster datasets" and went on with a definition, the truncation was behaving abnormally in my opinion and cutting off the first few words (perhaps by design on the site, but this goes against any convention I'm aware of). The result was the tag description began with "for questions about raster datasets" which is pretty much the opposite of what it was supposed to mean.

I proposed an edit wherein I put the actual tag meaning up front and moved the 'for something else use other tag' at the end, but I fear the damage is already done (be it as a result of the above or otherwise). There are 198 questions using , which is master to a synonym of . However a number of those questions appear to be about raster datasets and have nothing to do with reference grids or graticules as the original Wiki stated. My proposed edit added a couple of examples and tried to maintain the distinction that was not for raster datasets. I even added a line about the , though I wonder if other non-raster, text-based 'grid files' are being left out in some way.

It was then that I also noted the tag which currently has 12 questions and is master to synonym . Its Wiki indicates that it was created (apparently a couple of weeks ago) to distinguish between use of grid for reference vs data structure.

So now we have two different tags, with a potentially good distinction, but their Wikis define them as the same thing. And the more used tag has a great number of misapplications per its Wiki. So the questions are:

  • Should the Wiki be updated to remove the restrictions to reference/graticule only (in which case wouldn't it just be a synonym of , so maybe change it to 'grids-file' to be consistent/differentiated from the other one) and those questions that do adhere to that definition be updated to use the newer ?
  • Should be eliminated in favor of keeping only and its current Wiki definition?
  • Should there be an effort to go through those 198 questions currently using and correct them to reflect whichever of the two options above are taken? In other words, retag the ones needing it to raster, and leave only those using reference/graticule contexts (along with other suitable edits of course, if any can be made)?
  • Are there other formats that would not fit the definition of raster or might require their own special tag like the , or does Esri get claim to GRID (I'll use capitalization to differentiate) as a data format and others even if they're text based but not true Esri format (is there such a thing?) are... what? Rasters? Grids? I note Esri's is cited as being proprietary in binary format but open in ASCII format.
  • On the subject of fishnets I've also just discovered we can throw into the equation.
  • Both question and answer appear to agree that there is a problem with the grids tag so I have set status-planned to indicate that some action needs to be taken over time rather than as a quick fix.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Nov 8, 2014 at 10:06
  • I set status completed here after going through all but four of the questions tagged grids and then made both grid and grids synonyms of grids-graticules. I hope I got this close to 100% right but, if not, hopefully a handful of retags can sort out the remainder.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Feb 4, 2015 at 6:41

1 Answer 1


I almost wrote a similar question because I came across this the other day, and I also saw your tag wiki edits this morning.

I think the tag badly needs disambiguation, followed by burnination.

Some of the several to many ways that I have seen it used here (at least within ArcGIS platform questions) are for:

  • grid data/processing - possibly because Esri's first raster product and extension was called GRID - I think these could become (although I think this can sometimes be a wasted tag when used in conjunction with )
  • grids and graticules - including both measured and reference grids, as well as graticules - I think these should become
  • fishnet grids and vector grids - these are vector data (so does not apply), and although they can be used to create grids and graticules the Create Fishnet tool and QGIS equivalent have much wider applicability than that so I would change these to
  • Esri Grid format - is a raster format but in the same way that we have tags for , , etc I think we need to be specific with this one as . There is an ASCII format () that gets confused with it in some questions so I think that specific tag is also needed to avoid ambiguity.
  • local grid - another name for local coordinate systems used at things like mining sites and airports - I think these should become
  • NTv2 grid - a way to transform very accurately between datums - I think these should become
  • data grid - actually DataGrid which is part of dojo and comes up in some questions - I see no need for it to have a separate tag

All in all, I think you have asked a valuable question, to which my answer is that I think we should go through those 198 questions currently tagged and disambiguate them to reflect whichever of the half dozen or so options above apply.

Once that effort is complete I think should be burninated.

What we really need is A real solution to ambiguous tags.

  • Getting rid of 'grid' altogether concerns me since it's a very common term - particularly in asking questions. Unfortunately it can mean a couple different things, but I would be willing to bet nobody is going to look for/ask about 'fishnet' but they are going to say 'grid' when talking about the tic-tac-toe/Battleship concept. I guess grid-grat might cover that. Is fishnet an Esri specific term/tool? I've never seen it used elsewhere. Agree it has wider applicability (tried to address that in my Wiki edit), but I don't know enough to understand how it would differ from grids-graticules.
    – Chris W
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:17
  • I think an edit to change 'format' to 'raster' would make the two Esri tags more consistent. Or maybe just a single esri-grid tag and the Wiki stating it can be binary or ASCII. Are there any other ASCII/text raster formats? Because if not, then grid would have only two meanings to me - one of Esri's file formats or the general concept (ie vector, however it's implemented - lines or polygons). Raster would just be raster, because the only grid that is a raster is the Esri format (as in, only some grids are rasters, but all rasters are grids).
    – Chris W
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:23
  • I've seen fishnet used outside of ArcGIS but in ArcGIS I think its use became common very early as a way to avoid confusion between "vector grids" and "raster grids" (like we face here). Esri ASCII Raster is an ASCII interchange format while Esri Grid Format is a binary storage format.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Oct 27, 2014 at 21:44
  • Thought i'd add the terms "grid-to-ground" and "ground-to-grid" conversion, common in surveying, to the mix. They're used to convert between ground and projected distances.
    – Martin F
    Nov 30, 2014 at 6:22
  • Fyi notification, I just edited to add yet another related tag I found today you might want to incorporate/address in your answer - vector-grid.
    – Chris W
    Dec 5, 2014 at 22:52
  • @ChrisW I've edited to address this now
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Dec 5, 2014 at 23:50
  • I'm upvoting your answer now. Not sure if it should be accepted or not with only 4 votes. I would suggest one further edit - to point out that the tag fishnet exists and is already synonym to master vector-grid. Which it appears you just did, because I was about to question whether it should remain separate in reference to the specific ArcGIS tool and that status changed while I was typing. :P
    – Chris W
    Dec 6, 2014 at 0:01
  • I made vector-grid the master a few weeks back when I started looking through more questions tagged grids and realised that was the more neutral term of the ArcGIS and QGIS equivalents. I've stopped short of merging fishnet into vector-grid for now because that blocks off the option of de-coupling later but otherwise works identically.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Dec 6, 2014 at 0:13

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