I am just wondering if it is beneficial for the GIS community if the GIS.SE website is more lenient/liberal than the main StackOverflow website.
Yes, it has. During the early days, due to the need to build awareness of the site and the lack of availability of other sites, the guidelines were much more lax in terms of what was considered on-topic. While quality standards existed, there wasn't a lot available to use as a measurement of what was a good (or not so good) question.
Now that there are so many other StackExchange sites available for specific types of questions (such as SuperUser for general computer/software questions), the guidelines have gotten more specific. So have the quality standards - it's a lot easier to judge a poor quality question when you have millions of good (or great) ones to compare it against, and a few million other users to help make that determination.
My take is that how strict the website varies over time and depends on the amount of questions we have. Compared to SO, GIS.SE is probably still in its youth. This is evident if you visit the review queues of GIS.SE and SO, and compare the two. My experience is that most times, the first time question queue and late answer queue [which I am accessible to] are empty.
Content-wise, I feel that many would-be off-topic topics for SO are allowed in GIS.SE, at least a year ago. For example, recommendation for books, data etc.
On the other hand, I also feel that the atmosphere is becoming more strict. Some of my questions are dismissed as opinionated because I criticize/question features of popular products like ESRI and PostGIS. One of my questions was closed by mods because it relates to a ESRI decision that outsiders cannot change. [I won't provide a link as I promised not to complain about that specific question here.] In another occasion, I probably offended the PostGIS community while comparing one of its specific features to ESRI world, and gets closed as opinion-based.
I am not complaining about being closed, or argue that there is or is not a trace of opinion in my questions. What I am asking is:
Is it wise for GIS.SE to follow the current standards of SO?
In my opinion, GIS.SE is like SO a few years back, when a lot of the "good" questions asked then would be closed nowadays instantly. These include many many one-liner or two-liners with hundreds or thousands of upvotes and no example/code/justification whatsoever. This also includes the comparison type questions, which probably helped a lot to understand the difference between technologies.
Would it be better to control the strictness of GIS.SE based on e.g. time or volume of questions/answers or other metrics? Ideally/conceptually, there could be an inverse heuristic relation between strictness and one of these metrics. (Practically, of course, such formula are impossible to develop.)
- GIS.SE is still relatively young as measured by age and volume, and
- unlike SO, which has various spin-offs such as codereview, programmer, computer science, etc. etc., we don't have GISicencer, GIS programmer, GIS recommendation etc.
Admittedly, this is a general, opinion-based/subjective and probably not well-organized question. Also, I am a low-rep user here, and do not see many of the issues only visible to higher-rep/more experienced users. But I just want to raise the issue for discussion.