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I am coming from the Geographic Information Systems Stack Exchange site, so I am not particularly familiar with this site's norms yet. However I am excited to see a potential new home for the very frequent "data request" type questions that we get there.

There is currently a discussion on the GIS site about whether to direct such questions to this site, and out of that discussion I must pose this question:

Are questions about obtaining potentially "closed" data, e.g. data about China, on topic here?

Here is an example of such a question from the GIS site: Does anyone have aquifer depletion/recharge data for China, India, or any other country that isn't the United States?

Surely there are other countries besides the US that offer such data, so let's disregard that point and focus on the particular case where a user is specifically asking for "closed" data.

The topic Answers that reference non-open datasets offers some guidance for answers (which I understood to be that it's okay to reference closed datasets for the purposes of explanation or clarification but not as answers in and of themselves), but what about for questions?

Should question askers who are just looking for data and don't care about how they get it or whether it's open, paid for, or even illegal be accommodated here, or is there an understanding that this site is really only about open data, and that if they want closed data to look elsewhere?

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Asking for data regardless of its status should be encouraged. If it's not open now, the increased interest may encourage those with the keys to make it available. Or, via hackathons, data that is available but not easily accessible can be made more public.

Answers that point to closed-data should include legal disclaimers to the best of the author's knowledge. For example, when users are asking for Twitter datasets, I often link the Terms of Service and the rules regarding sharing raw data: example. It's not exactly top secret government map data, but I think with moderating we can catalog the state of data and possible paths to obtain it, while still respecting copyright and other legal things.

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    In asking the question, it is likely unclear to the data hunter whether or not the data is closed. Asking for the data both provides a notation of interest (as @philshem remarks) and a chance for people to share any open data related to the topic. – Jeanne Holm Apr 2 '14 at 11:40

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