Absolute newbie question

Hello all, I found this forum by chance while searching for maps to help me in my trips (I do a lot of roadtripping throughout all of North America, and I am planning on doing it in Europe too soon).
So, I was not looking for a forum like this but I am honestly intriged at all of you’s work and the maps you are either working or expecting to work on (I was reading a few threads).

Anyway! I have a BIG (and probably stupid) question:
What do you guys use these maps for? Are you guys working on apps? are you cartographers, are you just enthusiasts who love to know more about the land and terrain around the world (because I do that too, I just had never thought on doing maps!)… I am sooo interested but I am honestly a little confused about the purpose of these maps and the forum itself but I am always eager to learn something new!!!

So pardon my total ignorance, but yeah, I would love to learn what you guys are doing here and what is the purpose of it.
Excited to see you all’s responses, peace to all!

  • Riley

I contribute to OSM so that the maps made with it are more accurate and robust. What do I use the maps for?

All the better hiking apps I know of use OSM data so contributing to OSM means the maps I use when hiking are better.

There are a number of general navigation apps that used downloaded OSM data (OsmAnd, Organic Maps, Magic Earth, etc.) At least a couple of these (OsmAnd and Organic Maps, not sure about Magic Earth) are very privacy respecting and all of them can be used without having a data connection. So if you either are cheap and don’t use mobile data or you are in areas with little or now mobile coverage your navigation still works.

There is a clear separation between updating the information, and using it. When adding or modifying data, we update the database, nothing less, nothing more. The database is then available for all kinds of usage and applications, most mappers do not care greatly who or what or why; except that there is a growing concern about commercial enterprise making use of (and thus generating money from) the work that we voluntarily contribute.

For myself I mostly use osmand and navit for navigation purposes.

Hi, I (try to) mostly contribute to OSM for the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, mapping the ‘less developed’* (and thus mapped) parts of the world to aid people. It’s also known through the aptly named Missing Maps project.

And I also use the maps for hiking and cycling in my local area: Waymarkedtrails is an excellent site for that.

*your milage may vary on that…

That is similar to my motivation, and mapping of hiking trails is certainly what originally motivated me to contribute. When I have time I also try to help improve the map in my local area (generally, not just hiking aspects).

To repeat what has already been said, there is only one OpenStreetMap database that gathers all our contributions, but many maps and other tools that are built using that data. To some extent, as a contributor, you need to trust that if you contribute accurate and useful data, somebody somewhere will build a tool to make good use of it. (Of course some contributors also develop tools themselves, but they are a small minority of contributors globally).

I was impressed that it’s like Wikipedia. It’s a huge, open project where you can contribute what you can and find what you need. And even though I’m a newbie too, I think I’ll be able to contribute after a while :):wink:

Welcome, @VirginiaBrandon! There is certainly room for your contributions, OSM keeps on growing all the while. Both in the number of subjects and subsubjects mapped, and in the completeness of that mapping.

Welcome to OSM.
If you want to start contributing, the wiki is wonderful source of information.
You might want to start with this page : https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Beginners%27_guide

Best regards.

Gday Riley,

that’s it for me. As a world traveller for a couple of decades I always had a weakness for maps, I have collected hundreds of them. As soon as maps became available in the internet, I dropped the paperwork and started using the digital editions. I also am a fan of free software so it didn’t take long to step into OSM, and …

One motivation to contribute is to give something back for the benefit you get and the other thing is that it’s simply fascinating to see the results of your little contributions a couple of minutes later in OSM carto (the standard map created out of the OSM database) and lateron in various other maps and tools using the same database. For most mappers like me it’s nothing but a kind of hobby (I assume) which has the nice effect of creating some public benefit.

For sure you can and it’s easier you may expect … just give it a try!

Ohhh thanks! I was looking for a guide to start, so far I was working with this beginner’s guide but I was worried to be a little bit outdated since it’s 7+ years old.

Yeah, I love that it’s like wikipedia, is a huge project and we all can contribute :smiley:

Thank you guys for all of your replies, yeah I got the general consensus/motivation. Sounds good, same here! :wink: