We have quite a few unanswered questions (25%) which doesn't help make it out of Beta phase.


In my opinion, some questions don't have answers. This could be because no data exists, open or not. A fun example is the "falling coconut" question. (I answered the question for fun, but without a affirmative answer.)

I think the fact that some questions don't have answers is expected for Open Data, whereas a programming question would always have an answer (or would be closed for low quality). Should it be acceptable to answer a question with a simple "No", and explanation of why not?

In the meantime, take a look at the highest-voted unsanwered questions (link above) and perhaps we can answer some on the list.

Some interesting links:

Find interesting unanswered questions

(run other queries on site stats here)

3 Answers 3


Good idea. I think one of the other issues is that people who post the questions don't select an answer, even if there is an obvious answer that's highly voted. Part of the way to fix this issue would be for us moderators to reach out to those posters and ask them to select an answer.

  • 2
    there are some posters that don't respond to requests for edits or clarification. hard to blame site users for not wanting to answer those questions.
    – philshem
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 18:28
  • 3
    Agreed. The general approach has been to close the questions that need clarification if the poster does not respond within a reasonable time. You and others have been great about flagging those for moderators to close. Sometimes I vote to leave those up for a week or two as not everyone logs on to the site frequently. Thank you and others for your work in keeping this Stack Exchange useful. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 14:31
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    this thread! i've been seeking clarification, etc., or maybe just input about leaving questions open. i'm pretty liberal regarding letting users seek specific data, even when i think the question is relatively poor in quality. i'll be applying an approach more like this moving forward. thanks.
    – albert
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 18:17
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    Huh? Unanswered questions from the example link mainly have 0 answers. So it's not an issue of OPs not picking an answer. Edit: O sorry, you said other issue. But that makes your answer to the question essentially only "Good idea".
    – user4293
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 10:19
  • There have been a couple of answers that I have provided and the person who asked the question has never returned to the site after the question post date.opendata.stackexchange.com/questions/10285/… for example. Commented Jan 4, 2017 at 5:01

Good initiative. I have thought about the relatively low "answered-questions rate" on Open Data SE and came to the conclusion that the questions we pose are generally harder to answer than the ones on other sites.

Like most others, I use this site mainly for data-hunting and I will only come here when my prior research did not produce any satisfactory results. With this in mind, it is highly unlikely that anyone can just come by the question, do a bit of research and come up with the answer unless the person has some knowledge about the data already. I suspect that this is similar for a lot of users. Such rather specialized questions seem to have no answer to us but at some point they might be read by a specialist who then provides an answer.

Should we accept No answers?

With this in mind, I think we should not put such questions off with a simple No. One reason is that you cannot prove and, in fact, never know for certain that the data does not exist. The second and more important reason is that a simple No will almost never help.

Instead, I suggest that for every question we try our best in providing a useful and not necessarily complete answer. Two concrete examples come to my mind where this approach was, I believe, helpful (either for the author or for future readers): example 1 and example 2. In both cases, it is reasonable to claim that no such "prepared" data will exist anywhere. At the same time, there exists similar data or methods ways how one could combine several sources to construct the data. In both cases a simple No might have been technically correct. The upvotes and the general interest in both questions, especially in the first one, show however that there are other, possibly more helpful, ways to answer such questions.


Interesting. Out of 888 unanswered questions, half (451) have comments. It may be instructive to see if these comments are not a disguised response, or if the OP has replied to requests for clarification.

There are, of course, 437 questions without answer nor comment, for which it would also be interesting to ascertain why. Here is the list, if someone is interested in.

By the way, we note that the rate of accepted responses seems very low : 1534 questions have one or more answers (sometimes more than ten !), none of which has been accepted... I guess this is the curse of any Q/A site where the majority of questions are of the type: "Where can I find a white horse with a golden tail and a horn in the middle of its forehead? Thanx in advance !"

  • 1
    Nice input. I like your question example. "Where can I find a white horse with a golden tail and a horn in the middle of its forehead? AND for free and with an open license?? :)
    – philshem
    Commented Feb 20, 2017 at 13:03

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