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Calculate change between two sets of district lines was placed on hold because it contained tags for qgis, R, and arcgis-desktop. The question is said to be "too broad" and "essentially asking multiple questions" simply because it contained the three tags. If you look at the question itself, it is a very concise, specific question about how one might measure a certain geographic property. It does not ask for step-by-step instructions on how to achieve that measure, but rather what that measure might be.

The question itself doesn't mention any software packages at all and describes a candidate measure in terms of basic geometric properties/operations, so an answer in those terms is presumably fine with the questioner, and hence the software tags are somewhat irrelevant. The tour explains that tags are to help find related or similar questions. Thus, I could understand an edit or moderator comment that the tags are incorrect, but not the assertion that by tagging two GIS systems the question becomes two questions.

There are 600+ questions on this SE site with two or more of the cited tags, so it's pretty clear that the practice has been broadly tolerated up to now. Moving forward, are software agnostic questions tagged with multiple GIS software packages to be closed for being multiple questions, edited to remove extraneous tags, or yet some other resolution?

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    I think part of the issue with this particular question is that it wasn't a concise specific question until you edited it. I had put the question on hold while waiting for clarification (see my comment on that question) from the asker about what exactly they were asking and for which software. We still don't know if this updated question is what the asker is actually wanting, or if they were after an answer for how to do it with their GIS software. – Midavalo May 15 '17 at 13:46
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I think your question highlights the difficulty potential answerers and question reviewers have when it is unclear why a string of products are tagged on a question that does not mention them.

I think some users use multiple product tags to try and gain more exposure for their question and figure, the more they tag, the more likely they are to get a surplus of answers to choose from, some of which they may never have been likely to use. I think this is wasteful of the time answerers volunteer here and so I will normally just remove the tags and ask in a comment whether they are using one of them and how precisely it applies to their question.

If the user really has no software preference, or multiple software preferences then I think they should either use the tag or choose the product that they are going to be able to provide clarifications on, when potential answerers need them (which is very frequently).

The GIS principle tag has been discussed before at Is it useful to have a [gis-principle] tag? and is mentioned in Asking good Questions for GIS Stack Exchange?

The above is what I would do in this specific instance, but if I thought the asker was actually asking the same question about multiple products, then to me that is multiple questions, and thus a question which is too broad.

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    I think it would be useful to find precedent on this topic from meta SE or even SO. Could you please explain why this practice is wasteful of users' time? – Aaron May 15 '17 at 12:25
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    @Aaron I think it is wasteful because at the point a multi-product question is asked it potentially sets experts in each product preparing answers when the person asking the question will be holding an undisclosed preference. The precedent to me is the slippery slope argument against cross-posting by Jeff Atwood which says that if you can ask two communities, then by gum why not ask twenty. Here it is "if you can ask two sub-communities of GIS SE, why not ask 2, 3 or even more!" – PolyGeo May 15 '17 at 12:41
  • meta.stackexchange.com/a/64073/215590 Please pick a product and go with it. – PolyGeo May 15 '17 at 12:43
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    At the risk of raising this to another level of "meta-ness", I think the underlying question is whether we are here to answer questions or to doctrinally enforce a set of rules. The OP of the question at issue was new to the site. I have now read the tour three times in the past 24 hours and I don't see how a new user would understand what he/she had done wrong. Closing the question precludes anyone from trying to provide an answer. I understand the "wasting time" notion, but if I'm confident I'm providing something useful, let me decide if I want to risk my time. – Llaves May 15 '17 at 14:44
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    @Llaves There was a comment from myself asking for more information and querying the multiple tags. I also asked them to edit the question to clarify what they were asking and why. If a user has an answer they wish to add, Mods are usually willing to re-open a question to allow an answer when a user comments that they have an answer to add. – Midavalo May 15 '17 at 17:04
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    @Llaves In answer to "whether we are here to answer questions or to doctrinally enforce a set of rules", I think we are here to create and curate a massive GIS resource in the form of clear and focused questions with clear answers. Certainly, it is one which I benefit from every day as I search for answers to specific technical questions using the internet, usually removing the necessity for me to spend time asking a question because it has been asked and answered before. – PolyGeo May 15 '17 at 21:46
  • @PolyGeo Your link is about posting the same question to multiple sites, not using multiple tags. I don't think that's what we're talking about here. Am I missing something? – dbaston May 16 '17 at 15:58
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    @dbaston - The precedent to me is the slippery slope argument against cross-posting by Jeff Atwood which says that if you can ask two communities, then by gum why not ask twenty. Here it is "if you can ask two sub-communities of GIS SE, why not ask 2, 3 or even more!" – Midavalo May 16 '17 at 17:52
  • Our tags are now "sub-communities" to be treated exclusively? Is this in the help center? – dbaston May 16 '17 at 18:10
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    @dbaston the sub-communities mentioned are no more exclusive, and less formal, than the communities contained within each site. The guidelines each site uses are described in the combination of their help and Meta sites. Sub-communities like PostGIS users, R users, etc can represent useful non-exclusive sets of GIS SE users for discussion without being enshrined in the help center. – PolyGeo May 16 '17 at 20:30

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