The Open Data Stack Exchange's On Topic document includes these topics within the site scope:

  • where to find any kind of open data
  • specific open data sets
  • software tools related to open data
  • best practices regarding open data
  • licensing and releasing open data
  • open data formats and standards
  • linked data, ontologies and related semantic technologies
  • analysis and visualization of open data

My sense is that this site is overrun by the first category, namely questions, to the neglect of questions in other categories on the above list. Users are treating this site as they would a librarian.

Some questions:

  1. Is this state of affairs acceptable to other users?
  2. Do others agree with my sense that data-requests "crowd out" other questions and impede the growth of the Open Data Stack Exchange community? In other words, is this a real problem?
  3. Does it make sense for data-requests to be on the same site as the other topics?
  4. Should something be done to limit which data-requests are on-topic for this site?
  • 2
  • is this another random stack overflow devrel commenting? if so, it is completely bizarre how SO rolled these out. maybe they're talking to admins but it seems to me they just come here with very little experience on the network in general, even less here.
    – albert
    May 18, 2019 at 15:54

4 Answers 4


Users are treating this site as they would a librarian.

I don't see a problem with that, if people are around to answer.

Should something be done to limit which data-requests are on-topic for this site?

I do think we should appropriately flag and downvote data-request questions that are not clear, or too specific, or just low quality, or impossible to answer. With these questions open, we'll never get close to all questions having at least one answer. Currently we are at 71% answered.

  • 1
    Agreed. It's a pity many of these requests need so much work because they are badly written (missing important criteria, showing no prior research, etc), to the point that I'm now using a external keyboard macro program to autopaste a comment pointing them to opendata.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/284/…
    – user4293
    Mar 29, 2019 at 14:40
  • 1
    Based on my experience on GIS.se, I would say that low quality, completely unresearched questions are a by-product of a successful SE site. As the site's profile is raised, it attracts more attention and gets more questions of all levels of quality. Don't waste too much time on them - just downvote, comment and/or close the question. Then move on and spend your time on the questions where the asker took the time to craft a good question.
    – csk
    Apr 5, 2019 at 17:10

I love the data-request portion of this site. I visit OpenData.se to help people find different types of data and to keep myself up-to-date on the availability of different types of data.

I don't think the data requests are a problem. They're the main reason I use this site. I suspect that the reason this site is dominated by data-request questions, is that there was a need for a central place for data requests, and this site is filling that need.

The popularity of the data-request tag is a success story, not a problem to be fixed.

The real problem is the lack of interest in the other topics on this site. So maybe the question to be asked is:

How can we promote the other topics within the OpenData SE site scope?


Why aren't topics other than data requests more popular on OpenData SE?


Related to csk's comment, I wanted to see if the trend in questions.

Here's my query (PostTypeId = 1 indicates Questions only)

enter image description here


No, data requests are not crowding out other questions. In many ways this site is a librarian for open datasets, which is a great thing. We (well I personally) want users to come here as their default to finding open datasets and/or asking questions in regards to them.

The only issue I see with data requests/questions stem from other sites using ODSE as their documentation/forum. In and of itself is not a bad thing, but for the most part these sites tend to do the bare minimum in terms of due diligence to their users and to this site.
Specifically, they tend to have no/poor documentation and just provide a link here for questions. So users come here thinking that this is the forum tailored to them.

Essentially, we spend an entirely too much time having to explain to openFDA, and bls (to name a few) users what the rules are here and/or how to reword/reformat their questions.

New users that come here asking for help with their homework are only a minor issue; I feel like we've come together in terms of filtering/aiding/deleting these as they come in. Some are legit and can be salvaged, and some are essentially users being as lazy as possible. Considering its hard to distinguish between the two from the onset, I'm very wary of any course of action that would prevent the fixable questions from being asked.

That said, perhaps a page with rules around posting/asking would be helpful. I cannot put a number on how many times me or the handful of other users that tend to this site have asked "What have you done?".

Perhaps the "What have you done?" benchmark is/could be the delimiter here. In regular SO/SE, asking these kinds of questions the way they are worded would get you downvoted into oblivion.

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