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This is related to an earlier discussion about Are questions about obtaining geospatial data on topic?

Recently two questions tagged have been migrated to the Open Data Stack Exchange:

and one has been migrated from the Open Data Stack Exchange to here:

We've had a brief discussion about it in the moderator's chat room, and would like to hear from the community, about whether they would like to see more or less questions about obtaining open spatial data migrated from GIS to Open Data.

I would like to keep discussion of what the Open Data Stack Exchange may think about such migrations separate from this discussion for now because it is what the GIS community would like that we are trying to assess first.

  • For the moment they are not rejecting the migrations.
  • If this community says questions about obtaining open spatial data should be migrated from GIS to the Open Data Stack Exchange then we need to talk to the Open Data Stack Exchange community to make sure they are willing to accept them.
  • If this community says it wants "less migration" then we have saved bothering the Open Data Stack Exchange community about something that has become irrelevant.

I would also like to keep discussion of whether these two examples (and any others) represent free/commercial/open/etc data for another time and work on the assumption that we are currently only talking about whether open spatial data questions should be migrated from GIS to the Open Data Stack Exchange.

Finally, I would like to keep discussion of whether these two examples (and any others) represent spatial/mixed/non-spatial data for another time and work on the assumption that we are currently only talking about whether open spatial data questions should be migrated from GIS to the Open Data Stack Exchange.

Should questions about obtaining open spatial data be migrated from GIS to Open Data?

  • I posted the question asking about Australian business datasets. Ironically (or not?) the only useful datasets I've found so far are commercial in nature, so the Open Data people will probably close the question if I post them as an answer. In that case the question would have been better off staying here? – Stephen Lead Feb 3 '16 at 4:54
  • The idea that all requests for data are requests for open data is I think flawed. – nmtoken Feb 6 '16 at 12:24
  • @nmtoken That is not an idea that I give any credence to either. – PolyGeo Feb 6 '16 at 13:47
  • Given the support this post has received towards keeping on-topic questions which asks for data, this Q should be status-declined. The issue can always be revisited from time to time through a new Q. – Andre Silva May 31 '18 at 23:04
  • @AndreSilva I think status-deferred is more appropriate while the voting and commenting seems far from one-sided. I try to reserve the status-declined and status-completed tags for cases where either SE has used them at Meta Stack Exchange to make an "all sites decision" or the community here is more or less unanimous in their direction. – PolyGeo May 31 '18 at 23:24
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We should keep questions relating to obtaining spatial data, both open and commercial, here at GIS Stack Exchange. The Open Data community does not likely have the specialized knowledge needed to properly address spatial data inquiries. There is a significant amount of technical jargon that one must know to properly address many of these spatial data requests.

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    I agree, no community knows where to obtain spatial data better than the GIS community. In addition to the points made above, obtaining data is sometimes a crucial aspect of a GIS task or problem, so I wouldn't consider it less of a GIS question. – Tangnar Feb 2 '16 at 16:14
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    So should we just close the bad ones? – Ian Turton Feb 2 '16 at 19:27
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    @iant Yes, I believe any bad questions should be closed rather than exported off site. – Aaron Feb 2 '16 at 22:50
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    Can you provide some examples of the kind of jargon you are referring to? – Richard Law Feb 6 '16 at 6:37
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    "There is a significant amount of technical jargon that one must know to properly address many of these spatial data requests." Does not appear to be true in aggregate following some analysis I did between the two communities for my answer: meta.gis.stackexchange.com/a/4161/36886 – raphael Feb 7 '16 at 6:55
  • @raphael Thanks for your thoughts on this. As I indicated in your post, in order for your conclusions to be valid you need to measure and report the quality of the answers in addition to the count. One simple way to do this would be to report the proportion of accepted answers. If you look closely at your results, well over half do not have an accepted answer. – Aaron Feb 7 '16 at 14:38
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    @Aaron, well over half of open-data and data questions on GIS SE do not have accepted answers, either. I suspect data acquisition questions in general are often home to one-time users who don't bother to accept an answer (or even to return to the site) once they have an adequate dataset. – Richard Law Feb 8 '16 at 0:41
  • @RichardLaw, oooh. That's a good query to try to run. – raphael Feb 10 '16 at 3:59
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I'm starting this as a comment, but I'll get to an answer after one point. You state:

I would also like to keep discussion of whether these two examples (and any others) represent free/commercial/open/etc data for another time and work on the assumption that we are currently only talking about whether open spatial data questions should be migrated from GIS to the Open Data Stack Exchange.

My problem with this point and the related questions are that none of them state "I want 'OpenData'". They simply state where do I find data for the far off land of XYZ. Doesn't the term 'opendata' have some meaning in how data can be used and the license around it? (Maybe it doesn't). If someone hasn't explicitly stated they want 'opendata' (free data), then how would we know it should be migrated? I certainty dont advocate 50 questions to the poster just to find out their intentions so a post can be migrated or not.

Case in point: is this question about Canada Postal Code data 'opendata'? Well this data is only available for purchase/to be licensed. That doesn't make it open data. However if the user had asked 'where do I find free Canada postal code boundaries', is that an opendata question? (the answer however to that 'opendata' question becomes: its not open. So because of the answer does it come back to GIS.SE?).

Maybe I'm confused about what I see as a great deal of overlap between the two communities, specifically for geospatial data. I guess to that end, I agree with @Aaron that these questions should remain here unless theres any overwhelming and obvious case to move them. If/when someone flags something for migration, deal with it on a case-by-case basis. If the post makes it clear it belongs there, move it. If not abundantly clear, leave it.

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    Personally, I would like to see questions about data asked here NOT include requirements as to whether that data be open/free/commercial/etc for the same reasons that have been put very eloquently on another Meta: meta.genealogy.stackexchange.com/questions/2057/… – PolyGeo Feb 2 '16 at 22:39
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    W.r.t. open spatial data there is "a great deal of overlap between the two communities". This question is about trying to determine which community wants them the most and is therefore likely to put the most effort into improving and answering them. As much as possible we don't want questions falling into gaps, being asked in two places or being tossed back and forth between communities. If one or other community really wants to be "the place" for open spatial data questions and the other agrees then there is a case for an off-topic dot point in the help of the latter. – PolyGeo Feb 2 '16 at 22:54
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Expanding on my comment to Richard Law's answer and backing my assertions up with data

I'm inclined to agree that searching for open data might be a skill that the opendata crowd has a better handle on. And I disagree with @Tangnar's point about "local" knowledge, I think you have a higher probability for finding someone with knowledge of local data portals on opendata than you have of finding a fellow GIS person, for the simple fact that open data is a broader topic

UPDATE: Subbing in data from data.stackexchange.com queries, which produces slightly different results from the tag wikis
Updated 2018-03-23: Updating numbers at PolyGeo's suggestion

Comparison of GIS & OpenData

GIS.Stackexchange

open-data tag no longer exists following this answer
open-data was created 5 years ago and has 56 questions, of which 16 have accepted answers. Of the answers, the average score is 2.90, and average age is 765 days (source)
data was created 7 years ago and has 1177 questions, of which 514 have accepted answers. Of the answers, the average score is 2.54 (increased), and average age is 1490 days (source)

Opendata.Stackexchange

geospatialwas created 4 years 10 months ago and has 302 questions, of which 112 have an accepted answer. Of the answers, the average score is 2.92 (slight decrease), and average age is 822 days (source)

Findings

The geospatial tag on Opendata is more active (~2.5x more questions/year) than the opendata section of this site was before that tag was merged into data, and had 24% higher proportion of questions with accepted answers. The GIS.se data tag has a 26% higher proportion of questions with accepted answers. In the two years since this was first written, these proportions have not substantially changed: the answer rate for data questions on GIS.se dropped 1.2 pts to 43.6%, while the geospatial answer rate on Open Data increased 1.6% to 37.1%.

In terms of answer quality, it seems Opendata has higher answer quality for open-data geospatial questions than the GIS community for either data tag, since the answers on that site have a higher number of votes (on average), while having lower average numbers of views and post age, (which should correlate to number of upvotes).

However the accepted answer rate between data on GIS and geospatial on OpenData points to a reverse trend, so it's a bit of a wash? Granted, perhaps not all data requests on GIS are being labelled specifically as opendata?

Conclusion

  1. Migrate (new?) questions tagged opendata to opendata, since the geospatial opendata community is more active and successfully answers questions more regularly.
  2. Ask/prompt users tagging questions with data here whether they are specifically looking for open data or not.
  • Thanks for an excuse to check out data.stackexchange.com! Updated with more data. Unfortunately the database is a bit older than the current tag wikis. – raphael Feb 7 '16 at 19:05
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    +1. It's good argument. Though I think the statistics is missing the total volume of both sites. It may be the case that GIS.SE has smaller number of data questions because it's total volume/user-base is smaller. In that case, it's not data.SE has been more successful in this area specifically, but rather it's more volume/popular in general – tinlyx Feb 10 '16 at 3:55
  • GIS.SE has ~30x more questions than OpenData while being around for about 2x as long. OpenData is in between Politics and Personal Productivity – raphael Feb 10 '16 at 4:39
  • I'm curious as to whether, 2 years later, the case for open spatial data questions faring better at Open Data than here at GIS SE has become stronger or weaker. Have you considered re-running your analysis and updating your answer here? – PolyGeo Mar 22 '18 at 3:46
  • once I saw this I couldn't ignore it, updated the numbers. Answer rate for data questions dropped 1.2 pts to 43.6%, and geospatial answer rate increased 1.6% to 37.1% – raphael Mar 23 '18 at 20:45
  • @AndreSilva I don't think we need separate sections for old and new data. Just leaving the old raw data ruled out and dated is enough. However, I do think the remainder of the answer should be overhauled to ensure that the points being made relate only to the up-to-date data, and are made as clearly as possible. – PolyGeo Mar 23 '18 at 23:57
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    Does that help? – raphael Mar 26 '18 at 15:03
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I believe that we should keep questions pertaining to spatial data acquisition at GIS Stack Exchange, in most cases people don't really specify if they want open or commercial data so moving those questions to the Open Data Stack Exchange shouldn't work, besides in many cases obtaining spatial data is the most cumbersome part of a GIS project and people in the GIS community can better relate to this.

As @Aaron said there is a significant amount of technical jargon that one must know to properly address many of these spatial data requests, so keep the questions here and close off any questions that you would as per your normal behavior in GIS Stack Exchange and not because they were asking for Spatial Data.

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I think it's generally a bad idea to move GIS data related question to non-GIS related SE website as they are less specific, and as someone else pointed out, the GIS related question might well be drowned. This is similar to some GIS questions occasionally asked on StackOverflow, where the majority of the java/javascript/python/C++ programmers just don't know what you are talking about.

In general, I don't understand the logic behind the migration here. If data related questions do not belong in StackExchange networks, how does exporting the questions elsewhere solve the problem eventually? If, on the other hand, data questions do belong in StackExchange, what website would be better than GIS.SE, and shouldn't GIS.SE be the one who handle the quality issues associated with it?

I kept openness vs proprietary part out of the answer because I don't think it's really relevant.

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I think that in the most part they should be migrated to Open Data, and that just because people are asking for spatial data isn't a good justification to keep it here.

  • Most data that people ask for are not just spatial (they also have other attributes), which is essentially the data acquisition equivalent of asking a question about Python syntax in an arcpy question (which are better sent to Stack Overflow if they require a less-than-trivial answer).

  • Questions about acquiring statistical data seem to be off-topic for Cross Validated. Indeed an answer in one of their equivalent meta questions argues that the only reason we seem to tolerate these questions for obtaining (spatial) data is that there are relatively few of them.

  • Our goal should be to send a question to where it is likely to get the best answer, and also to keep expert answerers interested in our community. Open Data is a specialised forum for questions about Open Data, and I doubt that our best contributors are interested in answering questions about where to find shapefiles, most of which frankly just require some Google-fu with prior experience and local knowledge helping a lot.

  • To the extent that people may have difficulty working with spatial data as an interim step of data analysis after acquisition, questions about converting between spatial formats, ogr2ogr, cleaning geometries of self-intersections, and inserting data into spatial databases, etc. are all clearly on-topic here, and are clearly distinct from obtaining said data.

I think the difficult aspect is that requests for non-open data are off-topic for Open Data. So if we are to migrate requests for open spatial data, we are left with requests for non-open commercial data. This implies that many answers are going to have the flavour of an advertorial for commercial data services. I don't know if I'm entirely comfortable with that, as much as I support question migration.

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    "the only reason we seem to tolerate these questions for obtaining (spatial) data is that there are relatively few of them." --> Is that a bad reason? "... most of which frankly just require some Google-fu with prior experience and local knowledge helping a lot." --> Exactly, local knowledge and prior experience are something more likely to be found here than elsewhere when it comes to GIS data acquisition. – Tangnar Feb 4 '16 at 17:55
  • Consider this scenario... A question is asked about data. A GIS person with experience knows that there is a better dataset or approach to the GIS problem. But this question is migrated over, and it becomes only an open-data question. They may get the data they originally asked for, but not the best solution to their GIS problem. Maybe this is beyond the point of stack exchange... we should just answer questions as linearly as possible. But does that always provide the best answer to the question? – Tangnar Feb 4 '16 at 17:58
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    People on GIS.SE can still read and answer questions on Open Data, it's not like they're gone forever. What makes you think "GIS people" are better at asking these questions than people keen on open data and open data portals? I work as a GIS Developer, but don't work with open data. – Richard Law Feb 4 '16 at 18:17
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    I'm inclined to agree that searching for open data might be a skill that the opendata crowd has a better handle on. And I disagree with @Tangnar's point about "local" knowledge, I think you have a higher probability for finding someone with knowledge of local data portals on opendata than you have of finding a fellow GIS person, for the simple fact that open data is a broader topic. – raphael Feb 6 '16 at 5:22
  • @Tangnar's second point is about the XY Problem: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/66377/what-is-the-xy-problem which I don't feel up to sorting through a solution wrt migration at this moment – raphael Feb 6 '16 at 5:25
  • But not all data is open, some data might be licensed, some data might be open for some users but not for others, so pushing ALL questions for data to open data reduces the richness of the possible responses. – nmtoken Feb 8 '16 at 13:25
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Whether any questions should be migrated between any sites is still being discussed at the Meta Stack Exchange - see A proposed philosophy of question migration. My feeling is that network-wide most moderators frown upon migration nowadays.

Over the past 3 years only a small number of open spatial data questions have been migrated from GIS to Open Data and, if I have been involved (I am now usually not), then this is when:

  • their askers ask us to migrate their questions; or
  • questions are still unanswered here and the 60 day migration window is closing. This gives the Open Data community a chance to answer them when we have not.

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