Running a data only website?
August 28, 2008 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Any ideas on starting or running a website just for data and charts?

I love data but hate the news. I always wonder "how do they know Americans drove 50 million fewer miles last month"? Where do they get that data?

I want to start a website just for data and charts so anyone can upload data and anyone could search for it.

The only limitations would be:
data has to be in Excel format (ubiquitous) and there has to be a citation (web link) to the original source of the data.

Any ideas on how to construct and manage such a thing?
posted by gnossos to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
It's really not my desire to piss in your cornflakes, but there are already several websites that are doing this:

Many Eyes
DabbleDB (see in particular the commons).

These are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. There are probably others.
posted by adamrice at 8:22 AM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

I reckon you're best off starting it as a blog, using your own knowledge and enthusiasm to build up some content and a small audience with virtually no investment in coding. If it takes off then you'll find people will send you URLs and data and you might decide to add community/sharing features to make the most of this and let the site grow.

If you start by immediately building a more advanced data-sharing tool then you'll spend far more time and money, be in direct competition with some deeper pockets, and still have to kickstart it by providing/encouraging contributions.
posted by malevolent at 9:06 AM on August 28, 2008

data has to be in Excel format

What a PITA to download, and not as ubiquitous as you might think. Even the census bureau provides CSV files. Plus, what do you do about Excel 2007 files vs 2003 etc?

I think you'd do better to focus on data/charts linked with some particular topic of interest to you; i.e. provide depth rather than breadth.
posted by desjardins at 9:09 AM on August 28, 2008

Response by poster: Malevloent: I like the suggestion of a low key approach.

Desjardins: Hmmm, CSV's, good idea. You are right, easier to upload.
posted by gnossos at 10:42 AM on August 28, 2008

Maybe you could frame your blog posts in the form of a question, for example, the one in your OP: "How do they know Americans drove ...?" Then answer the question with data + charts. (Obviously, it will take you some work to go find them.) As the site gains popularity, have people ask/answer others' questions. Kind of like AskMe but for data.
posted by desjardins at 11:48 AM on August 28, 2008

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