Changeset count on user page - bad incentive?

When you open a user page on OSM, one of the first things you notice is the green number next to the word “Edits”, showing the number of changesets this user has contributed.

I feel that too much weight is put on this number, and have personally encountered users who tried to “pull rank” over others based on their high number of edits. However:

  • The number of changesets is not the number of edits; some users achieve 100 changests on their first day of editing by uploading every house separately, while others need months to hit the “first 100”
  • Neither the number of changesets nor the number of edits are any indication of quality; some users may have 100 changesets but they all had to be reverted because they were rubbish.

I wonder if we should somehow make the number of changesets less prominent on the user page. Perhaps by putting a “99+” for any number larger than 99, or only showing the number of changesets in the last 30 days or something like that. Or not show it at all, or show it in more detail…?


Who’s looking there at all? When I want to know how the pendulum swings for a user I look over at Pascal Neis’ stats here and when drilling on you can see your last 60 day rolling stats for about 9 ‘metrics’ in the countries you’ve done something in that period.


A lot of users, even outside of the OSM community… Many people give it a great meaning, without knowing that it’s the changesets that it shows and not the actual edits.
Maybe changing the text from “Edits” to “Changesets” would help distinguish the difference and have people give it less importance than it does with “Edits”. Exactly there are tools which can give better insight for a user’s contribution.


When I check the edits of someone (e.g. to assert if something was vandalism or a problem introduced in good faith), looking since when they are active and how many changesets they have uploaded is certainly part of getting a first impression. OSM is complex, so it is normal or at least understandable that a newby can make certain errors, while from someone with several thousands of changesets I expect they know the basics.

If there is too much emphasis on the number of changesets, maybe displaying the number of edits as well would alleviate the issue? Any metric of course can be gamed, e.g. you could move nodes by insignificant distances, or add and remove tags without changing meaning, etc. and those who are highest in edit count rankings are usually importers, so by all means, the quantity shouldn’t be the main criterion, but certainly it usually gives good indication how experienced a mapper is.


I would highly welcome more meaningful information on the “experience” of a user on the user page. Yes, there are special user tools (especially HDYC), but they are not widely known among casual mappers and are only partially suitable for a first “quick impression”.

Displaying the total number of map changes would be better than the number of changesets, but even that is not ideal and could also lead to false incentives (e.g. meaningless geometry changes to increase the number).

Perhaps it would be best to display an “activity level”, similar to the “Mapper Type” in HDYC, e.g. on a scale from 1 to ~6. Ideally, this should not only result from a single factor such as the map changes, but should also include various factors that allow a statement about the activities and experience of a mapper, e.g.

  • participation in note and changeset discussions,
  • variety of changes (e.g. variance of edited tags),
  • recent activities,
  • consistency of activity over time etc.

I can concur that determining how active or “senior” someone is in the community at a glance is useful information to have at short notice, without the use of admittedly very well made tools such as Pascal Neis’.

When looking at the history of a node for example, the link is to straight their OSM user page, so the information on display there is of value.


Like many, I think some metrics are useful, but not perfect. “Number of Changeset” is not bad. But it’s flawed, and it’s currently the only thing shown for a person’s mapping experience. The popularity of HDYC shows that OSMers value these data. We should add some more numbers!

It’s silly that the OSMF gives you free membership if you’ve mapped 42+ days in the last year, but that number isn’t available on Let’s add that.

HDYC’s “total number of map changes” is nice too. That & the number of changes in the last year would be useful.


showing if someone is an OSMF member would be great too.

Alas I think that’s harder to do, because (I think) there needs to be integration with the CiviCRM website for OSMF membership