I know Stack Exchange has a Code Review site, but asking questions about GIS focused topics there appears to have the same problems as asking GIS focused/related questions on Stack Overflow. The answers will generally come slowly and the likelihood of running into someone there who knows anything about GIS is significantly lower than it is on the GIS Stack Exchange. There's a lot of sharing better methods on GIS Stack Exchange as it is when people ask questions.

Given these observations should/could we amend the rules or create a feature to allow for code review on the GIS Stack Exchange?

1 Answer 1


Code reviews on GIS SE have been discussed on this Meta twice previously in:

I think allowing questions of the form:

Here is my code (with its purpose well described), can you fix, streamline and/or speed it up for me?

is the antithesis of a focussed Q&A site and therefore a bad idea.

Without a single focussed question, a request for a code review is effectively asking:

Which of many possible things that are wrong or suboptimal with my code can be improved, and how can that be done?

i.e. it is effectively multiple questions and goes against the Tour which says:

Your most important question is important to us

Asking one, and only one, important question within your Question helps attract prompt and clear Answers.

Your other questions are just as easy to research/ask separately!

If code reviews of GIS topics were permitted then:

  • I would foresee the site receiving many such requests from students and others new to GIS coding with those questions being often long and poorly explained.
  • There would be little incentive for those askers to think hard about what it is they are trying to ask, because they can always throw something up and ask for a code review.
  • There would be little incentive for accepting any answers because the next answer that comes along might improve their code a bit more.
  • There would be little re-use of answers because everything longer than a code snippet is likely to be unique and to result in a set of unique answers.
  • The most prolific and patient of the answerers who volunteer their time here will inevitably burn out, because every time they do a "great job" on a code review it will just stimulate requests for more code reviews.

The only place set aside on the Stack Exchange Network for code review questions is the Code Review Stack Exchange, which has tags for arcpy and geospatial. If there are insufficient GIS experts there to handle GIS code reviews, then I recommend that those users from this site who want GIS code reviews to be supported, should consider volunteering some of their time to that site to bolster their spatial skills. As an aside, according to http://stackexchange.com/sites#percentanswered, Code Review currently has 90% of their questions answered whereas here we have only 80% i.e. we are closer to overwhelm than they.

The above notwithstanding, there is already a LOT of code review performed on GIS SE for those users who are investing their time into their code and extracting from it focussed Q&A questions (with a code snippet) that our volunteers are usually happy to answer because they come in "bite-size" pieces and have maximum re-use potential.

Also, it is worth remembering that the GIS Chat Room is far less constrained about what can be posted. There you could provide a link to your code offsite and possibly attract a visiting specialist in the language that it is written in to review it.

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