Bulk update of pedestrian crossings by LocalMapper

I stumbled upon Changeset: 142120572 | OpenStreetMap while checking updates in my local area. The changeset contains a link to Automated edits/Local-Mapper - OpenStreetMap Wiki. This was supposedly discussed in a Slack thread. In my opinion, that is not quite enough to warrant a mass edit of this magnitude. I didn’t count but this is many thousands of map changes all over the United States. Opinions?

My personal opinion is that mass edits should be discussed in a more open and less ephemeral medium than Slack, at the very least. And they should have used a dedicated account.


This is a copy of the Slack thread (3 participants, over 1 day) pinging @citrula and @Minh_Nguyen @UrbanUnPlanner https://hackmd.io/@mvexel/HyItMSeWa

@Local-Mapper is essentially bulk-fixing a warning that iD’s validator now emits due to a recently approved tagging combination. Some of these errors are actually the result of a bug in iD.

I think reaching out to OSMUS Slack was an appropriate step, since for now that’s still the most frequented communication channel for the U.S. community as a whole. That said, if this change is controversial, it would be prudent to slow down and at least give each state’s local community a heads-up before performing the edits in that state. After all, some mappers may want to use these validator warnings as an opportunity to review each crossing for mistakes and add additional detail.

I’ve informed @Local-Mapper of your concern, since they aren’t on this forum yet.

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As to your broader point:

Technically, OSMUS Slack isn’t ephemeral, since that workspace is on a special plan that makes archives available and searchable indefinitely. However, it is easy for people to miss messages in a high-traffic channel like #tagging. Additionally, the workspace is behind a login wall, which makes it less suitable for keeping a record of community decisions.

I can’t fault @Local-Mapper for going where their proposal was likely to receive the most visibility among local mappers. The automated edits code of conduct states:

if your edit affects only one country or territory, then standard communication methods for the territory affected by the change

Common sense would include Slack among the set of standard communication channels. Over time, I’d like for this forum to supplant Slack for documenting decisions that have a lasting impact on the database. But we shouldn’t single out someone for following the rules as they are today.

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Sure, but I think bringing this to a wider audience to inform them that 100s if not 1000s of nodes and ways in their area would be updated would have been very appropriate. I am a frequent Slack user and never saw this thread.

I informed Local-Mapper on Slack as well.


(slight offtopic diversion about “ephemeral” platforms)

Unless someone else has an archive in an open format, it’s ephemeral. I’m sure that there’s absolutely no danger of Salesforce turning Slack off in the near future, or changing the plan Ts and Cs, but “indefinitely” is a very long time. In the short life of the internet, this has happened to platform after platform.

I split out another thread to discuss Slack, since I know there are lots of feelings about it.

In the meantime, are there any concrete concerns with this mass crossing:markings=no tagging on the merits?

Hello, I’ve joined this forum and am happy to discuss my edits. If it would be more appropriate to use a dedicated account for this work I can do that. I haven’t made any edits since 10/03 and will stop for the time being.


I raised this as an Github iD bug last week, which got merged to an exiting ticket crossing:markings isn't automatically set when a crossing is created · Issue #9525 · openstreetmap/iD · GitHub.

It may be easier to see if that bug can be solved?

To clarify, crossing:markings=no is a new tag, so there are a lot of crossings that don’t have it yet. The bug in iD is exacerbating the problem, adding to the backlog of crossings to retag. (Rapid is also affected; a fix is currently on the roadmap.)

My primary concern with this edit is that the crossing tagging has changed a lot over the past few years, and that this edit might not even be relevant if it changes again. After reading some of the crossing proposals and wiki pages I am now reasonably convinced that crossing:markings is a good addition and have no issues with the edit itself.

Regarding the notification of the edit - the Automated Edits code of conduct has a line which actually suggests using Slack for discussion of the edits, and a list of OSM-related Slack instances.

If you plan to make any automated edit, you should discuss and document your plans beforehand. Documentation should be placed on the wiki and the proposal should then be discussed on a suitable platform like mailing lists (if dominant part of a community is using some other platform, for example Slack workspaces or Signal groups, one should also consult proposal there):

The Slack is very active and is a reasonably good place for feedback from the community, but I personally would prefer if the forum is used as the “blessed” location for these discussions, because it’s much easier to find and there is an expectation that the conversation is public. If the community prefers or expects people to discuss it on the forum then I think that the wiki page should be modified to reflect that.


To be clear, I didn’t raise this to discuss the merits of the edits themselves. I was merely concerned about the process.


As with everything we don’t own…it is, until it isn’t. If we want a record of past decisions on stuff like this, Slack is just not the place to keep it.


I, for one, think the process followed here was sound, following both the letter and spirit of the automated edits guideline. The user created a wiki, then solicited feedback from the local community in the place that most of the community uses the most, which in the US I believe is OSMUS Slack.

While I appreciate the points about the pros of the openness of this forum, I’m not sure I agree with this point:

Sure, but I think bringing this to a wider audience to inform them that 100s if not 1000s of nodes and ways in their area would be updated would have been very appropriate.

It’s not obvious to me that this forum is a “wider audience” than the OSMUS Slack #tagging channel, at least among US mappers. I think mandating that this forum must be used for all automated edits and similar announcements would be a pretty dramatic change to existing local consensus. That might not be bad, but it would need to be a bigger discussion.

I also welcome the tagging upgrade itself.

I would expect asking on both (I did this with my automated edit), as mapper should be under no obligation to have also third party accounts.

Similarly, in case of automated edit in Poland I asked on PL Discord and on official forums.

(that does not take a lot of time, you can copy description from Slack/Discord or OSM Wiki)


Hi all, I attempted to clarify the organized editing policy wiki with regard to the role of third-party platforms like Slack. Let’s please work together to keep improving the visibility and clarity of this wiki page.

Just to clarify specifically for @Local-Mapper’s benefit is that I don’t take issue with the edit itself, I just want to call out that the community would have benefited from a public record of discussion and wider exposure to it.

For my part I added a feature ticket to the maproulette github to clarify the role of organized edits in the OSM community.


In such case I would recommend both official forum + the main community channel(s) for discussion - wiki is not replacement for that.

so instead

we advise to raise your proposal for an automated edit there for maximum community visibility. However, there should be a permanent record of a community discussion and decision on the [[Community forum]] or this [[Wiki]].


we advise to raise your proposal for an automated edit also there for maximum community visibility. However, there should be a a thread at community discussion. Permanent record of decision taken can be on the [[Community forum]] or this [[Wiki]].

(in theory there should be always documentation on wiki but this is rarely followed anyway)

Looking back, I think part of the problem was that the discussion took place in a channel that was too wide. #tagging is a fine place to ask for tagging advice, as in how to refine the automated edit proposal to use the right tags. But it isn’t a great place to get buy-in for carrying out those edits en masse. This is why Slack has lower-volume state-specific channels and why, for the German community, lists.openstreetmap.de has state-specific mailing lists.

Now that the guideline favors a venue that doesn’t allow for such fine-grained communication (this forum), it’s even more important to crosspost to these more geographically focused channels to get that local perspective. The operative word is crossposting: the source of truth would still need to be publicly accessible.

Even so, I don’t think we strictly need that public record for every edit that people discuss among themselves. OSM has a long history of mapping decisions being made at a pub too – and I still get carded sometimes entering those! It’s the big-deal edits, like this blanket fix for validator warnings, that need this level of formality.