Beware of fake beaches (Pokémon Go)

Five days ago Niantic announced a new Pokémon in Pokémon Go, which spawns only in beaches. So it could happen that someone could add fake beaches in these days (I found two users already in Italy with a quick check), this is just a reminder to take a look in you local area. One method could be to filter natural=beach with “New mappers” tag in OSMcha or using an Overpass query such as:

//courtesy of WoodWoseWulf on Discord
out body;
out skel qt;

Some are easy to recognize, they added lot of parks years ago, then nothing until 1-5 days ago when they started adding beaches again. In this case is worth it to also check the old parks to see if they are legit.


@ivanbranco Thanks for the heads up! It looks like some experienced mappers are also adding beaches where they don’t belong, so I wouldn’t limit any review to “New mappers”

Shouldn’t pokemon go users be vandalizing the Linux Foundations Overture data nowdays? I thought that is what all the money Niantic is paying to the Linux Foundation is supposed to compensate.

Or did I get something wrong there?


Here is a link to a OSMCha filter for a user who has been adding a lot of beaches. Although most are near water, only some look even plausible. Also, the beaches are almost all mapped as nodes, and the changeset comment is always the same “add roads, add parks, elements and building”

Perhaps others could review and comment. I have deleted some of the beaches where it was obvious (based on the Bing imagery that the mapper cited as a source) that they didn’t exist.

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In case it wasn’t obvious enough (for those unfamiliar with the brand, it is a Poké Ball)


I would just revert everything if it was for me


That is odd, I don’t think there is a tool that would generate that. I wonder are all these mappers following specific instructions somewhere.


I suspect that the mapper in question is just copy-pasting the same changeset comment over and over. They probably know that a changeset comment of “adding beach nodes for Pokemon” is going to attract attention, so choose this instead.


Good detective work @ivanbranco! Can you report to the DWG, or provide a link to the changesets in question?


This is the changeset: OSMcha link. I’ll try reporting it to the DWG. The problem is that there are many more users adding fake features right now.

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A couple of additional suggestions from me - ask questions in changeset comments rather than just say “X is wrong”**, include a “hello and welcome” bit if they are vaguely new, and perhaps something like “OpenStreetMap is a map of things that actually exist, not things that you would like to exist”. Also if the changeset locale isn’t English I’d perhaps add a second discussion comment translated by e.g. Google Translate into that language.

** which has happened in at least some of these examples, thanks.


A good reminder Andy, I do try to do that on the first changeset that I encounter for a given user with a given issue, e.g.:

Hello, the “beaches” you have added do not appear to be beaches in the available imagery. Could you clarify why you believe these are beaches. Also, beaches should be mapped as areas.

OSMCha didn’t identify them as new. They have been a member since July 2019 and have 419 changesets.

What is your advice to how to deal with the actual vandalism, e.g. shown on the screenshots from @ivanbranco?

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I’d revert “obviously wrong stuff” and try and get a dialogue going initially. If that doesn’t work, and they keep editing, then report them to the DWG and we can sort them out.

If it looks like they are editing sensibly from now on and you need help identifying which changesets need reverting and then reverting those, also let us know.

If everything just “goes quiet” and there are lots of previous edits to wade through, then we might have to take the view that much earlier stuff is probably not worth keeping - but we’d want to look for a cutoff point where they started adding “invalid stuff”, if possible.

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See also, Dam vandalised to beach. So far every beach I’ve seen touched by this user (in osmcha) looks like fiction. It’s probably a case where everything they’ve ever done needs reverting.

Edit, one or two look like they might actually be real things, but unpicking what’s real and what’s fake probably won’t be worth the effort.

Thanks, Andy! I sent them another message on their most recent changeset (changeset made 1 hour ago), trying to use the tone you suggested. We will see if they reply and if they stop making fake edits.


I think it’s possible this new user is the same person with a new username. Signed up a couple of hours after this post, and started adding a lot of beach nodes, particularly near Querétaro.


This one as well – practically the same username.


Have you reported them?


I marked some of the former’s edits as “bad” in OSMCha, but otherwise no. I’m not sure of what the process is for that.

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Osmcha doesn’t have any formal connection to the OSMF that I know of.

The normal reporting process is an email to the DWG at the address shown here.

There is also a way to report a profile if you go to it on, this gives the option to say you’re reporting them as a vandal. I assume this gets passed on the DWG too, but I don’t think I’ve seen that confirmed anywhere.


I would leave a changeset comment on at least one of the changesets, and then revert the obviously bad edits. In OSMCha you can click “Open with” → “osm-revert”. I have reverted some of this users edits.

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