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A lot of people come here asking questions in good faith in the understanding that GIS Stack Exchange exists primarily to help those who come to the table with GIS questions. Unfortunately, a lot of very good questions get closed or put on hold before they are even given a chance to be answered. The process for putting these questions into such a status has evolved into a high level of subjectivity that does a lot of damage to the GIS S.E. and serves to only turn people away when they see people jumping quickly to be the first to be the least helpful.

A lot of these instances occur because of misunderstanding as to what is off-topic in GIS S.E., misapplication of tour suggestions to ask a single question as if they are strict rules (even in cases where a second question is posed in the post so as to clarify the first question), and misinterpretation of something as too-broad which is not.

Sometimes, important, but opinionated, questions are posed asking for suggestions on the best way to do something, options for ways to solve something, or ways to improve a process. As professionals in the GIS industry, these are things we do daily. There is often more than one way to do something.

It seems a significant amount of value is lost on GIS Stack Exchange when these questions are just thrown in the trash bin and those asking these questions are told their contributions are not valued.

Is it time for a parallel ("fourth") site/sub-site for open-ended questions like these?

Examples:

  • Here's one with regards to Supervised Neural Networks for site selection in GIS. Machine learning in GIS will be a hot topic in the coming years.
  • Here's one listed as off-topic that should not have been. Using population data as Z-axis to make a 3D map in Python. It's clear the author is asking about what packages can accomplish this, not looking for help with code review.
  • Here's one where the author asks about the differences between GNSS Receiver and GNSS Antenna. The author asked a second question by way of clarifying the question, and rather than helping rephrase the question by editing it, which was quite easy to do, the first choice was to put it on hold instead. We shouldn't be putting questions on hold for simple syntax errors and misapplication of the "one question" guideline as a strict rule.
  • Here's one where the author had compatibility issues between GeoServer and Tomcat. A suitable answer was provided in the comments and would easily make for a good "Accepted Answer," as the OP surely won't be the only person to try to mix a GeoServer install with Tomcat. gis.stackexchange.com/questions/319369/
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    About second paragraph see gis.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/4816/…. About the third paragraph, I don’t agree because “best” is subjective; the post ends up with multiple superfluous answers (specially the shopping list/recommendation ones) and it makes more difficult to find content. Remembering first purpose here is not to help the OP in specific, but to create a repository of high quality content (useful to many). I suggest you edit the examples provided in question. Tks. – Andre Silva Apr 23 at 21:15
  • to your python example - they are looking for a python code to generate 3d maps but 1 they show no research or hint of trying themselves, 2 python questions might be better suited on stack overflows (as has 1.5 million python tags vs 7,225 on gis se)stackoverflow.com/questions/tagged/python vs gis.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/python – Mapperz Apr 23 at 21:26
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    So you're advocating them asking a GIS question in Stack Overflow instead? Why? – Zachary Ordo - GISP Apr 23 at 21:28
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    I think Python questions about spatial libraries are core business for GIS SE. As long as they include a code attempt to illustrate what has been tried and where the asker is stuck they are answered here quicker and more frequently than at Stack Overflow. – PolyGeo Apr 24 at 2:17
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For open-ended GIS questions, like the ones that you describe, which may or may not be suitable for editing into the focused Q&A format of the Main site, there is already an under-utilized third place (after Main and Meta) called the GIS Chat Room.

Rather than trying to convince this community to lobby the Stack Exchange network, which it would need to do via Meta Stack Exchange, to implement a fourth place (which does not exist for even the largest Stack Exchange sites) I would encourage you to use our under-utilized third place (the GIS Chat Room) for open-ended GIS questions.

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