I'm minded to post a fairly strong criticism (in the form of a question) of what I see as the very poor quality of some of the the datasets offered as open data by the Ordnance Survey of Great Britain. My question would be aimed at discovering how other users of this data feel about its quality, scope and on how it could be improved.

Would this be a reasonable question to ask on Stack Exchange GIS?

  • on Meta yes - though OpenData from Ordnance Survey is derived from it's commercial products (generalized) - it better than other countries - VectorMap District is the most vaulable with Codepoint Open - both exist in OpenStreetMap - wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/…
    – Mapperz Mod
    Jul 16, 2012 at 16:41
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    Just a clarification, lest the previous comment be misunderstood: Meta is not a dumping ground for off-topic questions; it's for questions about this site. As such, the current question is on topic here in Meta (it's about the kinds of questions acceptable on our main site), but the proposed question (aimed at eliciting information about a source of data) would not be on topic here on Meta, no matter how carefully it might be formulated.
    – whuber
    Jul 16, 2012 at 17:42

4 Answers 4


It sounds like you're on track toward formulating your question in a constructive way. You are correct in (implicitly) suspecting that an open rant against a data provider would be closed, but that a question designed to elicit well supported, authoritative, useful information about obtaining, using, and improving such data might be well received.

  • Well, I think of the Survey as being data withholders rather than providers. But on reflection, posting a question of this sort on Stack Exchange GIS might not be that good an idea. It might "encourage discussion" ;) Don't know where else I can go to find out what users think of OS OpenData though. Nick.
    – nhopton
    Jul 16, 2012 at 17:58
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    Nick, one approach is to think about what would constitute a great answer: the one you would definitely accept as the best. I imagine a lot of your frustration is that the data are something you would like to use but where limitations exist, limitations in accessibility, usability, quality, or whatever. So you might say "I need data of such-and-such a region of such-and-such quality, currency, etc, for the following purposes... It seems that the OS data fall short of this for the following reasons.. Can people suggest how I could effectively obtain/use/improve these data for my purposes?"
    – whuber
    Jul 16, 2012 at 18:02
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    Thanks Bill (it is Bill, isn't it?). I think I'll be stuck with writing a closely-reasoned letter to the DG of the Survey, much good may it do me. Or perhaps the politicians might be a better bet, we'll see. Nick.
    – nhopton
    Jul 16, 2012 at 18:12

I think that this is a topic worthy of discussion/debate. However, given the GB-centric nature of the question it is probably best posted in the data.gov.uk forums. Perhaps the General Discussion forum where open data matters are discussed?


You could ask a more general question about the distribution of topographic data. Ask for examples of good and bad practice.

Its not really a matter of quality but of how well designed the products are. Data can be highly accurate but not meet user expectations. How should topographic data be distributed to GIS users?


Questions seeking discussion by the GIS community are always welcome in the GIS Chat Room.

Your stated intent of:

My question would be aimed at discovering how other users of this data feel about its quality, scope and on how it could be improved.

seems to make it off-topic for the Main GIS SE site.

If your motivation for asking the question is “I would like to participate in a discussion about ______”, then you should not be asking here.

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