I came across a question where a user originally asked for software to complete a particular analysis:

How can I find the highest path of a DEM or contours file within an area?

and suggested FME or ArcGIS as candidates. A moderator then edited the question so that it asked only for ArcGIS-based solutions :

Finding highest path of DEM or contours file within area using ArcGIS Desktop?

then provided an answer using ArcGIS. Is it considered appropriate for a moderator to change the scope of another user's question so that it fits the moderator's own software preferences?

2 Answers 2


It depends. A question does not necessarily have to be about one specific software to be considered not broad, as long as it is specific enough in details to avoid five users casting a close vote as 'too broad' (or even 'unclear'). So that is, questions about software can also be closed as 'too broad', or 'unclear'.

Asking about means of accomplishing a specific GIS task (independent of software) is also valid. See for example, my POV in Are software recommendations good candidates for being wiki locked? I have one hypothesis that some people who work only with more standard/developed GIS software has some difficulty to understand that not all GIS (and related fields) tasks can be accomplished in all GIS software.

About the specific question you linked to, If it had been edited after the answer was posted, which was months after that Q remained unanswered, I would not have seen a problem with taken action, i.e., tying question and answer. If it was the case, and I still wanted to post an FME answer anyway, I would say something along the lines "you also was interested using FME, so here is one alternative, etc.". I'd not edit it back if the other answer was accepted, or highly scored (which was also not the case there).

However, it was not like the above; the edit was carried out within minutes after the question was asked. Also, as explained before, don't agree with the justification provided for the edit:

Reduced scope to prevent being closed as too broad

Last, a borderline issue, sometimes I will observe users commenting to OP asking/requesting to state a specific software in question. Sometimes the OP is indeed working with one specific software; sometimes they are not, but give way and pick one; and sometimes OP specifically says he/she is open to work with whichever software if he/she can get an answer that addresses the question. At least the last case should respect OP's will.

And go back to first paragraph, the question would need to be clear, have enough details, etc.


That's interesting. It depends.

While the question specified was edited and subsequently answered by a moderator, this could just as easily apply to any user with edit privileges.

That question was tagged from the beginning, but the body mentioned both FME and ArcMap (that same edit removed the FME reference too).

I have seen other examples of this, and in general, I'm OK with it if the edit is incorporating details from the comments from the OP. For example, if the OP specifies the software preference in the comments, then I think it's fairly clear.

But in this case, at the time edit in question was made, there weren't that many comments, and they were mostly referencing FME.

It could also be argued that the tags of a question somewhat 'override' in this case, since I would have likely not even have opened this question if I were looking only for FME questions.
I'm not sure I would agree with editing a question (I personally will ask in comments about conflicting body/tags), but if a question body mentions multiple software packages, but only one of those is tagged I tend think the tagged one is 'preferred.'

So, yes if the edit is actually just a clarification of the OPs actual preference (from comments, etc.), but no in most other cases.

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