I have asked a few questions on the site, and people are replying with things like Yelp, and Google Maps. As far as I am concerned these are the definitions of not open data.

What course of action should be taken to these responses? Down Vote? Mark as off topic?

Is there anywhere that gives a "definition" of open data as it refers to this site to provide users with as a reference?

  • I vote this question be migrated to the main opendata.se site. Understanding what should and should not be considered open data is a common issue, and so should be part of the main discussion, not meta discussion. Jun 11, 2013 at 23:37
  • @ted.strauss that's now how StackExchange works. Questions that talk about the main site, belong here. This question would be off-topic on the main site since it is not a question about open data itself, but rather an aspect of the site.
    – DForck42
    Jun 12, 2013 at 13:01
  • Ok fair enough. The same question worded slightly differently would make sense for the main site, but I'm sure it will come up, if it hasn't already. Thx Jun 12, 2013 at 13:49

4 Answers 4


The definition of "open" data is discussed in another answer.

The idea of using free web services, such as the Google maps API, makes sense and doesn't work against the principles of open data. They include the need for the services consuming their public API to be freely available.

Other services, like Yelp, that may provide access but in a highly restricted manner, could be considered differently.


Wikipedia has a pretty good definition of Open Data.

Many people are indeed willing to point to any data, thinking it will help even though it is not free, or not understanding the concept of Open Data.

I suggest downvoting such answers together with an explanation that the answer is not open data. We should not do excessive downvoting either, no further than -1, as these users have potential once they get the concept of Open Data.


It is not uncommon for open data sets to be put into Google spreadsheets, i.e. in Google docs/drive. Cases like this should be considered valid open data source. Same argument could be made for open-access contributed content to Google Earth.


Here's an example when something Google can actually be the "most correct" answer:

Find reusable images of city X with width>2100 pixels

To be fair, at the moment it's the only answer ... ;)

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