I recently got an upvote on one of my answer and when I checked it I realized the question was edited recently with the following note:

This question is one that would likely be closed quickly if asked today because it effectively asks for code without making a code attempt. Since it has many upvotes the community has assessed it to be useful, and so it is likely to be left open, but should not be used as an example of a question that should be asked today.

ref: Writing Shapely geometries to shapefiles

The question was asked in 2013 at a moment when many of the solutions proposed now were not even available.

My point is: general questions will be asked without code attempt because there is nothing to attempt. And usually these question become the most upvoted one because there are the base learning material for everyone. There is a vast gap between: "solve a very specific use case that I don't understand" (e.g. the ref question) and "please do my homework, here is the subject".

I think this type of comment should be removed as it doesn't make the GIS community look very open-minded and maybe prevent people from asking super basic questions about new tools. We can still close the "do my homework" question when they arise.

What people think?

  • 2
    Although I am new-ish to GIS SE, I always downvote questions like Writing Shapely geometries to shapefiles. It isn't the lack of code that makes me downvote, but the overall lack of effort. I get not every question can have a code sample written for it, but I think people asking questions should demonstrate at least a trivial amount of thought and effort put into the matter before lobbing a two-sentence question to the community.
    – bixb0012
    Apr 1, 2023 at 18:36
  • 3
    A good question title enough is often enough for the page to rank well on search engines. If someone is searching for how to write Shapely geometries to shapefiles, they probably do not really care about the original questioner's existing and broken code but about the potentially existing working examples in the answers. If you punish a questioner, you punish lots of searching minds from the future. May 7, 2023 at 21:27
  • Agreed, removed the comment from the OP as it's not helpful. The community agrees.
    – GISHuman
    Jun 6, 2023 at 14:27
  • 1
    While GIS.SE is not Stack Overflow, SO has what I think is a different take than the overall vibe I get from comments and answers to this question. meta.stackoverflow.com/questions/261592/… I tend to think along those lines and thus think that it's appropriate to see questioners attempt code.
    – John Polo
    Jun 9, 2023 at 19:59

3 Answers 3


I wholeheartedly agree. There is nothing wrong with broad questions not containing broken code attempts. StackExchange serves as much more than helping the initial questioners and often times they a) might not even have the basic knowledge to initially create code (and who in their right mind would blame a fellow human for that) or b) the question is so general, that it would be a waste of time to make up some intentionally non-working code.

No one is forced to invest time in answering questions anyways.


To me, it should not be a binary code == open, no code == close, but a value judgement based on the quality of the question and the effort, regardless of whether that effort involves code, that a user has put in to looking for answers to their problem. Particularly as not all programming issues are about errors, exceptions and unexpected results. They can also be about concepts and logical or creative thinking.


It looks like that was a note that I put into two questions on 19 Sep 2022:

I think I must have been grappling with whether there was a better way to deal with this class of highly upvoted old questions which would be quickly closed if asked today than simply closing them with the custom close reason of:

When seeking help to debug/write/improve code always provide the desired behavior, a specific problem/error and the shortest code (as formatted text, not pictures) needed to reproduce it in the question body. Providing a clear problem statement and a code attempt helps others to help you.

I do not think that I will use that note again and will remove it from those two questions if that seems to be the consensus reached in this Meta Q&A.

I think we should continue to vote to close questions that request code directly or indirectly because it takes much less time and effort to ask for code than it does for our volunteers to write it. I think we should encourage those that seek code to invest some initial time and effort of their own into trying to write it and to present where they are stuck so that we can build upon that effort.

  • 5
    1) No one is forced to write code. 2) It can be really hard to someone to go the first steps when coding. -> Your rules are overzealous and create an environment that is unfriendly to people who need help. May 7, 2023 at 21:24
  • 1
    It's questions like this that make me realize SO's culture is not necessarily right, and should not be imposed on other SEs
    – prusswan
    Jul 1, 2023 at 5:28

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