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The question https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/264654 (which has been since self-deleted) was about:

who were the early cartographers best known for enriching their maps with imagery or icons that indicated other attributes about the locations they were mapping, or the people who lived in those locations?

and comments on that question has led me to read the tag wiki for .

History of GIS is the study of past developments in geography, geodesy, cartography, navigation and spatial data and analysis that ultimately lead to the application of geography to information and computer systems. GIS has a rich history covering many subjects such as geography, geodesy, maths and computer science, this history has resulted in the vast development of spatial data and application of geography to everyday devices and analysis.

See the unlikely history of modern maps for more information

The comments on that self-deleted question also pointed to How did sailors navigate before the Mercator projection (1536)?

My understanding is that the history of GIS began in the early 1960s, and that what is described in that tag wiki could be better described as a "pre-history of GIS".

Also, a review of the questions tagged reveals questions not just about the pre-history and history of GIS but also topics like historical geodatabases. Consequently, I think that it may be time to review the tag and its wiki.

GIS did not develop in a vacuum, but should questions about the history of any topic that can be considered part of modern GIS like geography, geodesy, maths, computer science, cartography and navigation be on-topic when they are about work done before GIS is generally agreed to have come into existence, and are not focused on the origins of GIS?

To be clear, I'm not saying that a question about something pre-1960 is automatically out of scope. What I am wanting to avoid is the tag wiki leading from "GIS evolved from fields like cartography and navigation" to being "anything about the history of cartography or the history of navigation is OK to ask here because it is also about the pre-history of GIS".

  • I don't agree using the understanding that history of GIS began in the early 1960s to narrow the scope of questions to only >1960 period. The reasons why are expressed in mkennedy's answer. But +1 for asking. – Andre Silva Dec 14 '17 at 15:16
  • @AndreSilva I'm not saying that a question about something pre-1960 is automatically out of scope. What I am wanting to avoid is the history tag wiki leading from "GIS evolved from fields like cartography and navigation" to being "anything about the history of cartography or the history of navigation is OK to ask here because it is also about the pre-history of GIS". – PolyGeo Dec 15 '17 at 1:46
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As may be apparent from my past comments, I lean towards a more inclusive view of types of questions are acceptable. If someone wants to ask about maps that have those stars with multiple lines radiating out from them (rhumb lines on portolan charts), I'm okay with that. Perhaps they're going to digitize the map and want to know if that feature should be included. Maybe they're just curious.

Is the question also acceptable on the History Stack Exchange? Sure.

Is the tag being misused? Yes. The questions that have that tag also cover using historical data, tracking data changes, etc. We could make this tag more specific, like history-of-GIS, and possibly add another tag or two. I don't feel it's necessary. The tag wiki should be updated, perhaps specifically stating what it shouldn't be used for. However, it's only been used for 35 questions in total so I don't feel it requires a lot of to fix a relatively small problem.

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