There has previously been some discussion here about:

Which brings me to examine these tags:

Do we need them all and/or any others? If so, how should data questions be tagged?

  • 1
    I've tagged this question with featured to try and give it some more exposure. The current vote to me says 6:1 that we should make the open-data tag a synonym of data so I am readying to implement that. My thinking is that its wiki should say "For questions seeking data of any type. If you require Open Data consider posting at the Open Data Stack Exchange instead."
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 7, 2016 at 22:31
  • The use of a single data for all questions seeking data has now been implemented.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 11, 2016 at 5:35

3 Answers 3


Just keep and make all others a synonym to it.

I suspect that many of these tags beyond 'data' were created in response to the frequent comment on such questions, "free or paid?". While not necessarily a bad question or bit of info to include when asking, it shouldn't be tag worthy or required info to provide when asking. People usually search for the free lunch first. If there are no free options, should paid options not even be mentioned?

I think questions here on GIS.SE that are searching for data would best be open to all answers/sources since that gives them the most value.

The data tag should be able to stand on its own; we certainly don't need weather-data, census-data, ad nauseum, which is the road we'd be heading down with even more data tags. Those two example subjects already have their own tags (ie and , but I don't think pigeon-holing a bunch of 'data' variants is going to really help with searches. ...

  • I've changed my position on this, and now agree with your answer, after reading an excellent Meta answer on Genealogy & Family History to a comparable question: meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/a/2058
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 22:01
  • I also discovered a geodata tag here and am wondering whether that should be the master tag rather than data. After all, if it is not geodata wouldn't any other type of data request be off-topic here, and more likely to be welcomed on Open Data?
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jul 15, 2015 at 22:04
  • 1
    @PolyGeo On the one hand I agree. On the other, 'geo' would seem like a somewhat redundant/obvious prefix - kind of like the old 'gis' tag. Data certainly has the greatest use (I hadn't even noticed geodata when this came up, maybe because it isn't hyphenated, and almost 900 to 27 is clear what most people think of first). On the face of it I would say geodata should just be another synonym of data. Of course geodata could mean data that is already spatially enabled and has geometry, not requiring joins to geometry. That's the only way I see it distinct from or preferable to just using data.
    – Chris W
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 22:44
  • I'm not a huge fan of geodata either, but I think using it would reinforce that asking about any data that is not specifically GIS data, is off-topic.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 22:55
  • 1
    Agree that geotag should be a synonym for the reasons you described. Like @PolyGeo, I also changed my mind; having one data tag for free and paid is simpler. Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 23:16
  • 2
    @PolyGeo it might be a question of wording or nitpicking here, but I don't think non-GIS data is off-topic. I personally don't consider any data that does not have a geometry component within the data (ie spatially enabled) to be GIS data. If you have a spreadsheet of say census blocks and stats, that's not GIS data, it's just tabular - yet it's ok to ask about. It must be shapefile/database with geometry column/etc. to be GIS to me. However you may just define it as data about/has a location. I'm sure there are examples, but I can't think of any questions about non-spatially related data.
    – Chris W
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 23:18
  • @ChrisW There is an error in the spreadsheet of census blocks and stats that I downloaded from our Census Bureau. This spreadsheet has no spatial coordinates. I think this is off-topic for GIS SE.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 23:27
  • 1
    @PolyGeo Since data tags are about obtaining it, not sure I'd agree; guess it depends on the error. There's all kinds of stuff out there that only comes in tabular format to be joined to spatial data, and doing so is a big part of GIS. Data content/accuracy/etc. is a separate issue. I haven't really noticed any widespread problems with the data tag (except being misapplied; have not looking for) or requests being off-topic, so maybe I'm just not seeing the (potential) problem you are. I'm not sure in practice we really disagree on anything here, it might just be a matter of terminology. :)
    – Chris W
    Commented Jul 16, 2015 at 23:56
  • 1
    Performing the joins of non-spatial data to spatial data is to me on-topic because it is a GIS function, but obtaining data that is not intrinsically spatial in order to join it is to me off-topic.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jul 17, 2015 at 0:09

I'm supporting @ChrisW's answer, but will leave this answer here as an alternative. This Q/A post has evolved in many ways since it was asked (e.g. read all comments) and I believe we've achieved a mature solution for this issue.

I suggest keeping two tags:

  • , with the following synonym: . Tag wiki to be along the lines of "use for questions seeking data that may include commercial/paid solutions - use open-data if it must be open/free".
  • , with the following synonyms: , .


  • People usually do not look specifically for commercial-data, but open-data. Therefore, 'data' can encompass all kinds of data.
  • Open and free data are used here interchangeably, so they can be synonyms. I suggested 'open-data' to be the master tag because it has excerpt and wiki, and it also alludes to the Open Data Stack Exchange site. There is no problem tagging an open-data question with both 'data' and 'open-data'.
  • Questions tagged with 'public-data' are mostly referring to 'open-data', and exceptions can be handled manually (untagging).
  • 2
    @polygeo / andre While I still don't like open vs free, as it now reads this proposal keeps it to two tags and preserves data as the either-or option (which addresses the establishment of data as common use and eliminates any ambiguity in commercial). So I'd say this is my favored solution. It's also the least disruptive and imho implementable even without extensive support (since only a handful of us appear to be participating here). I'm looking at the public tag and some of them aren't even about data - I'll probably do some editing on that in a minute.
    – Chris W
    Commented Jun 7, 2015 at 20:14
  • Thanks ChrisW - I've gone ahead and implemented as per this answer now.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Jun 8, 2015 at 6:06
  • @AndreSilva You may want to put a link to which "@ChrisW's answer" you support because he has two on this question.
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 23:03
  • I'll when I get access to my PC. But, it is the answer who favours keeping only the data tag. @PolyGeo. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 0:12
  • I thought that would be the case so updating now. Do you think we may need a separate Q&A on geodata vs data distinction?
    – PolyGeo Mod
    Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 1:09
  • @PolyGeo, I think it is not necessary. Thanks for the update. Commented Apr 9, 2016 at 3:31

I would say and are the two that should be kept. In my opinion this is the only meaningful distinction between data searches here on GIS.SE. Wikis can be edited. I'd just mention the Open Data SE in the free-data Wiki.

  • Data is the original, but ambiguous. I'm not sure it could be made synonym to either without a lot of review. It definitely wouldn't make sense to make commercial-data a synonym data. If so, that means either data means commercial data, or data means any data and you don't need the other tags anyway.
  • Public is supposed to be specific to data created or maintained by public (government) agencies according to its wiki, but that can be free or paid. I don't see many questions searching for data that must be created or maintained by a government agency. They typically don't care where it comes from, just whether they have to pay for it. Reliability is a whole other level of consideration.
  • I don't even know what 'open' data means and I avoid that tag when possible because of this ambiguity. It seems like it was co-opted from 'open source', but that's a licensing/use consideration. I'll bet there's no consistent correlation between paid for and free data and whether or not said data is for use without restriction or not. At that point you're getting into DRM. Or maybe it means some sort of open standard? For example shapefile is public, but not open. Or maybe the distinction is created by a single entity vs crowd-sourced (which we also have a tag for)?
  • I agree that free and open are not the same thing. I'm not at all sure what commercial-data might mean, data created by a commercial entitity (but might be open, or free at point of use), or does it mean data that has some cost associated for all users, or that has some cost associated for commercial users.
    – nmtoken
    Commented Feb 9, 2016 at 8:48

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