I've noticed that some answers reference non-open datasets (like here). Should these answers be voted down or flagged as low-quality?

Obviously a component of open data is opening closed data sets, but I wonder if we should discourage folks linking to non-open sources.

1 Answer 1


I was just about to ask the same question. My instinct is that it can be helpful to reference non-open sources as a means of describing/discussing the type of data/information being requested (or looked for).

It can also help with pseudo-reverse engineering methods of finding the same data (e.g. in this thread re. list of non-profits in the US the paid Guidestar use of 990's suggests an 'open' way of looking for similar records).

However, I think it really depends. In some cases (though by no means all), there are paid sources are really just well-organized aggregations of open data.

On the flip side, I don't think paid sources unto themselves would be helpful answers for questions on Open Data.

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    Yes. In other words, you wouldn't want paid solutions to become the canonical answer to "Open Data" problems (down-vote or remove as 'not useful'). But mentioning them in the context of providing clarity or improving the answer can sometimes be useful. +1 Commented May 9, 2013 at 19:53
  • @RobertCartaino I agree. I would argue that the general rule from SO meta should apply to Open Data as well regarding links as answers.
    – Ryan Gates
    Commented May 9, 2013 at 21:15

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