I'm referring to Quick OSM Save As Shapefile error "Can't create field" on GIS Stack Exchange. In summary,

  • The asker was trying to save a layer from the quick OSM plugin as a shapefile and getting an error message.
  • The issue turned out to be that one of the field names was too long for the shapefile format.
  • The solution was to omit that field from the output, or save it as a different format.

Five users put this question on hold as off-topic. They gave these two reasons:

"This problem cannot or can no longer be reproduced. Changes to the system or to the asker's circumstances may have rendered the question obsolete, or the question does not include a procedure to enable potential answerers to reproduce the same symptoms. Such questions are off-topic as they are unlikely to help future readers, but editing them to include more details can lead to re-opening."

Won't other users who try to save a layer with a too-long field name as a shapefile have exactly the same issue?

"Questions relating to general IT or with no clear GIS component, are off-topic here but can be researched/asked at Stack Overflow (software development), Super User (computing hardware and software), Database Administrators (relational databases) and other SE sites"

This reason makes even less sense to me. This was a GIS-related question, not a general IT question. Where else would you encounter a shapefile?

  • 2
    I can understand the use of first close reason. You added a comment which solved OP’s question. Most users don’t come back to convert comment as answers. It might have happened someone saw your comment and voted to close as such. In the reviewe queue, if my memory does not fail, answers won’t appear in the graphical interface, which could have mislead other reviewers as well. I frequently try to check deeper when this close reason is given, but sometimes I don’t. Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:07
  • 1
    The fact that the problem was solved doesn't seem like the same as the problem longer being reproducible.
    – csk
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:12
  • I can’t see exactly the timestamp without accessing the history (both are marked “yesterday” right now). But if there was a gap, it could have beem one reason. I don’t know, just trying to help. Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:13
  • @AndreSilva I'm a bit frustrated, and I'm sorry if that came across as directed at you. I appreciate your input.
    – csk
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:16
  • “Changes to the askers’s circunstances might have rendered the question obsolete”. Many questions answered in comments remain open and present in the “unanswered question” list. This close reason is used also to address such situation. I have casted a reopen vote on it. Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:16
  • Don’t worry, it did not came accross. Tks. Commented May 24, 2018 at 17:18
  • 2
    Agreed and reopened
    – Midavalo Mod
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 18:06
  • @csk "Changes to the asker's circumstances may have rendered the question obsolete" rather than "cannot or can no longer be reproduced" seems likely to have been the bit that led some close voters to that close reason.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented May 24, 2018 at 22:27

1 Answer 1


I think that you were right to bring this one to Meta.

I can see no reason for a vote to close it as being not a GIS question.

I can see how someone reading just the first two of the three since deleted comments (the last two were 8 minutes apart) on that question might jump to a close vote of no longer an issue for the asker ("Changes to the asker's circumstances may have rendered the question obsolete"). However, I do not think that should have happened in this case and, if that was the cause, then I think we should all try to take a little more care with our reviews.

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