Expectations for Commons Publishers

We appreciate your interest in publishing resources on the Minnesota Geospatial Commons. To make this a good experience for you and for those who will use your organization’s resources, please read and understand the following set of expectations for publishers.

Guiding principles

  • Resources published on the Commons must have sufficient documentation to allow a potential user to determine if they are fit for a particular use.
  • The Commons is a professional site, and publishers are expected to contribute high quality data with full disclosure of who they are.
  • It is assumed that all resources (data, services, apps and maps) accessed directly from the Commons will be freely available and public. If resources require a license or payment, a publisher may only publish a metadata record describing the resource that points to another location to acquire the resources.

Detailed expectations


Publishers on the Geospatial Commons must be organizations, not individuals. Each publishing organization must have one or more registered users. Registered users must be identified by real name and by the organization they represent. The Commons administrator has the authority to revoke users and publishers if they fail to comply with policies.

Publishing resources

Any publisher may publish resources that meet technical and governance requirements. The basic requirements for resources are as follows:

  • Metadata

    ​Any publisher may publish any metadata that meets requirements. This includes supplying both XML and HTML files for metadata structured in either the Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines (MGMG) or Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) formats. Good metadata is what will make the Geospatial Commons a valuable resource to users. While a minimum level of metadata completeness is required to publish within the Geospatial Commons, complete metadata is expected. This recommendation approved by the Geospatial Advisory Council details the mandatory, desirable, and optional elements of metadata for the Commons.

  • Resources guidelines

    Any publisher may publish resources that meet technical and governance requirements, described in this document. Resources can include spatial datasets, services, apps and maps (learn more about types of resources). Contact us if you have a format that is not on this list.

    • Resources published to and hosted on the Commons must be free and open. If a resource is not free and open (e.g., licensed data), the metadata may be published on the Commons but the resource (dataset, service, or application) must be hosted elsewhere.
    • Data, services, apps and maps published to the Commons must cover at least some part of Minnesota.
    • Non-geospatial data may be published under these circumstances:
      • The tabular dataset has a foreign key directly relatable or joinable to a published geospatial dataset. For example, summary data by county could be in a tabular format with the County ID as the foreign key.
      • The tabular dataset contains geographic coordinates in tabular format or other easily geocodable data like a street address.
    • Data resources hosted by the Commons may be limited due to file size. Please contact MnGeo if you plan on publishing a data resource over 1 gigabyte in size. MnGeo reserves the authority to set technical publisher requirements.
  • Authoritative Source

    Organizations that are the authoritative source for a resource should be the publisher of that resource on the Commons.  The goal of this expectation is to help Commons users to be able to reliably find the data from the authoritative source. Organizations that are the authoritative source should also commit to keeping the data on the Commons refreshed as the data is updated internally.  Data on the Commons should be updated on an appropriate schedule, as decided by the publisher.

    An organization may publish a resource for which it is not the authoritative source if it is a “sponsor” of that resource. The sponsor organization must notify the authoritative source. It is desirable that the sponsor get approval from the authoritative source, but this might not be practical in all cases. It is also desirable that the authoritative source organization be listed on the organizations page on the Commons (with or without any registered users), but this may not be practical in all cases. An authoritative source may request that one of its resources be removed if it is being published by another organization. The Commons administrator will evaluate the request and remove the resource, if appropriate.

    Hybrid datasets may be published. The metadata must be clear on lineage.

    If the Commons has duplicate or nearly duplicate datasets, the administrator will evaluate and take action on a case-by-case basis. It may require communication with the publishers and other stakeholders.