Research Data Scarytales

A dark picture with a black cat silhouette, which has the writing "Research Data Scarytales". The "Scary" is smeared in red over the actual word "Fairy" from "Fairytales".


With our Research Data Scarytales, we want to take you on an eerie journey and show you in short stories what scary consequences mistakes in data management can have. We are showcasing a wide range of scenarios, ranging from minor inconveniences to a single person to permanent consequences for humankind, all based on real events.

Each reader has the opportunity to find out for themselves what went wrong in each story. Each scenario begins with a brief summary of the facts. Then it's time to figure it out!

The game can also serve as a community activity. One way to do this is to designate a person as the game master to read the resolution, while the other players try to solve the mystery with yes/no questions.


How to play:

  1. One person is designated as the game master. This person decides which of the stories will be chosen and guides the participants through the game.
  2. All participants open the corresponding ScaryTales page and read the story.
  3. Only the game master opens the solutions tab and reads it.
  4. The players now take turns asking yes/no questions in order to find out what happened.
  5. The game master answers the questions with "yes" or "no".
  6. The round is over as soon as the players have guessed the correct solution.
  7. Finally, the solution and the RDM conclusion are read out by the game master.

All stories can also be found in PFD format under the CC0 license on Zenodo. Reuse is explicitly encouraged. Feedback on the stories can be sent to

We wish you spooky story-time and happy sleuthing!


To the stories:

  1. Backup is key
  2. Costly Birthdays
  3. Lost Toys
  4. The Sound of Silence
  5. Out of the blue
  6. Gene Dating
  7. Unsure Footing
  8. Babylonic Confusion
  9. The forgotten Fantasy?
  10. Hello? Are you there?
  11. Atlantic Lazarus
  12. Family Ties
  13. Householdmatters
  14. Wrong Direction
  15. No good deed goes unpunished
  16. Look, don't touch
  17. Intervention from up-high
  18. Bad Recycling
  19. Antiques
  20. Don‘t judge a book by its cover
  21. Unsatisfying boots
  22. Command line troubles
  23. Sharing is Caring
  24. Questions of Calendar
  25. On fire
  26. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!
  27. Trouble down the line
  28. Expensive Mice
  29. There is always an option
  30. Sunken treasures
  31. Undocumented
  32. It's the small things that matter
  33. Employee with an invisibility cloak
  34. False Alarm
  35. In the enemy base
  36. Lost in Translation
  37. Null Island
  38. In deep 'shit'
  39. Easy come, easy go
  40. Return to sender
  41. The end is nigh
  42. Too good to be true
  43. A cat's a cat, and that's that.
  44. Surveying Nirvana
  45. Finding a good match
  46. Not only set in stone
  47. The debt brake stands on feet of clay
  48. The small difference
  49. Clone Wars
  50. Promising developer personality
  51. Burning Cloud
  52. The table is full
  53. Technical Revolution
  54. Chatty confetti shower
  55. Who am I?
  56. Blurred Man on the Moon
  57. Binding Contracts
  58. Data Wildfire
  59. Strong as Iron
  60. Units of measurement are no laughing matter
  61. Cheat Code
  62. The thing can fly?
  63. A or B? B or A? It's all one, isn't it?
  64. That’s me, indeed!
  65. Metadata against oblivion