Is spiderfy a word? Is it OK to use in technical documentation for software? Is there a better alternative?


I'm using the Google Maps API and there is this concept that many developers in the GIS community refer to as spiderfying that resolves ambiguities between features (icons) on a map that exist at the same coordinates, or that are too close together to be easy to distinguish or act upon (click/touch) when the map is zoomed out. Often the markers are spread into a circle or a spiral with lines connecting each marker to the geographic point, and thus resembles a spider web, sort of.


"Click on a cluster to spiderfy the markers so that you can choose your desired hotel."

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  • Personally, in talking with a layman, I'd use the term "expand." Click on a cluster to expand the markers so you can choose your desired hotel.
    – VampDuc
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:04
  • If anything, spiderfy is "jargon". As such, it's OK where jargon from that technical domain is OK, not OK otherwise.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:43

3 Answers 3


If you're using the word with the GIS community then I don't think there's a problem as they already know what that word means.

However, it's not a good idea to use niche technical language for public facing instructions as in your example above. I would suggest "Click on a cluster to spread the markers so that you can choose your desired hotel."


It seems that you're trying to seek justification for using technical jargon in your technical documentation. Personally, I have no problem with this whatsoever. I work in technical support, and, in my opinion, we ruin the documentation -- both its accuracy and its subtlety -- when we try to remove all the technical jargon from the document. Sometimes, admittedly, a marketing team can get carried away in its use of jargon. But in this case, 'spiderfy' has a specific use in this specific technical sense. I say go with it.

  • 1
    Well, if the goal is to educate, you could say, "Click on a cluster to spread out--or 'spiderfy'--the markers so that you can choose your desired hotel."
    – user139454
    Nov 3, 2015 at 20:52
  • 2
    @amt528 Yes, exactly. You don't have to not use jargon, you just have to briefly explain it. Doing it like you suggest educates the layman and doesn't insult the expert. I wish everyone understood this.
    – VampDuc
    Nov 3, 2015 at 21:05

Maybe you could say "spiral out" instead. Otherwise, if "spiderfy" is the accepted term, I'd just stick with it. And if spiderfy is offset in the code font (as in your question), it conveys that it's a special term.

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