infochimps.org is definitely the best venue for a bulk database dump, whether it's for free under a share-alike license or for pay with a "do whatever you want but don't build bouldr-only-different.com" clause.
We're soliciting entries for our Everything Jukebox: datasets with say "
geolocation" on the left hand column and "everything about something" on the right hand columns -- in this case, "places to go climb and all attendant metadata".
What happens when this is out there? Nobody knows! It's the internet! But here are some plausible outcomes:
- Someone uses the data to build an iPhone/Android app for the site
- One of your users ties it to datasets from aggdata.com with every REI, Walmart and Sporting Goods store in the country - now you have a "where to get gear" feature for your users and a natural focal point for advertising SEO.
- Someone builds a connector to Twitter's new geolocation API and boom: social networking layer for your site.
- A grad student studying public health is able to combine your site's data (as a measure for "popularity of alternative sports") with other public data to understand patterns of fitness and exercise.
Some of these don't make you money, and some depend on others paying it forward as well. It's hard to explain why this is a good idea, though I think most people have a sense that it is.
But I do know two of the fundamental impulses that make people add content to your site are 1) the joy of sharing their passion and 2) the marginal utility they realize from other people building on the asset they helped improve. That means the best way to encourage contribution is to 1) make that story as widely available as possible, and 2) make the scope for incremental improvements as broad as possible. (Or as the philosopher Earl Hickey said, "do good things and good things happen to you").