I'm wondering if dataviz questions, like "What's the best graph to compare data between geographical locations (i.e. GDP)?".

It's not directly related to opendata, but it's the kind of question that I find myself asking most often when working with datasets.

What do you think?

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A discussion of open data is limited if we only talk about a portion of the process of making data open. That process extends from a requirement to gather data to the use of that data to gain insight, create economic gain, or do social good. Visualization is a key part of what many people do in order to accomplish one of those outcomes.

I don't think this is the place to post visualizations without a question associated with it, but asking questions about how to visualize data (either technical questions or logical construct questions) would make sense to me.

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If you're asking about visualizing data, and part of the reason for the question is that you're generating the image (or sound in the case of auralization) from an open API. (vs. downloading it, having a chance to prep it for your software, and then use it).

I could also see questions being valid when they're asking for clarification or help with data that may have been released with poor documentation.


"Best [representation] to compare [data]" is never answerable without knowing who the audience is and what questions they're trying to answer. Scientists may have their standards that they're used to, but it may be inappropriate for a 5th grade class. Many visualizations are themselves a form of bias and are used to try to influence people. (see Darrell Hoff's seminal work).

I'm torn on questions about asking for norms for visualizing a given type of data, as we might to a case of them being too localized. I'd likely have to see individual questions before making a judgement.

I would personally be okay with questions about the possibility of bias in a visualization (although, there's then no '1 correct answer' that so many people on SE sites have been fixated on over the last couple of years). I guess you could ask for the worst bias in it to get around that rule, if they're going to be accepting of 'best' questions.

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Half of making data "open" is making it understandable. To a greater extent than we acknowledge, this involves visualization.

So my first impulse is to say it comes with the territory.

Of course, that's not to say that visualizing data isn't its own territory. Is there an SE community being organized around that yet? If there's not an obviously better place to ask such a question, maybe we shouldn't worry about it.

After all, what we people interested in Open Data need to know and what information we have to share that's mostly inaccessible otherwise is pretty much just what needs to be shared among us people interested in Open Data because we need to know it.

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