Finding and fixing rogue edits?

About a year ago I spent some time carefully updating tracks, woods, etc in a particular area. Recently, I’ve noticed that an entire wooded area has been removed, and other tracks have been removed or generally messed around. Is there any way of investigating (and, only if appropriate) reversing such edits? I would want to look at the history of the person making these changes, to see whether there is any good reason for the edits. I did have a look at the History tab on the OSM interface, but I don’t really know how far back to go to find the edits concerned… and even if/when I find them I don’t know whether it is possible to reverse any that are inappropriate.


It is quite possible that the ways and elements you mean are a victim of the Redaction Bot that was used in Summer 2012 to prepare the licence change …

See also and similar pages in the wiki or other sources.

It was also my first thought that this may have been caused by the redaction bot.

However, this does not necessarily have to be the case and I still want to answer the original question: If you can find your edits where you originally created or modified these objects in, then this could be a useful starting point for browsing the pages of affected ways and nodes as well as their histories.

Reverting inappropriate edits is possible, but with older edits it is quite hard to do in practice. The reason for this is that more recent, desirable edits may be partially based on the inappropriate edit.

To answer the general question, there are a few options open to you.

One is’s history tab, but the biggest drawback of that is that changesets with large bounding boxes but no actual changes in your area will still show up.

A better option is WhoDidIt:

That allows you to see which changesets have created, modified or deleted nodes on a tile-by-tile basis. There’s also an RSS feed option.

Complementary to that is ITO’s OSM Mapper:

That tracks ways rather than nodes, and also supports various data renderings that helps you see who to praise / blame for what.

Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll take a look in more detail when I have longer moment, but I had a quick look back at my own edit history to find an edit to the woods that have vanished, to see if I could work out what happened to it subsequently. I did annotate a few of my edits, though not all – I now see the value in doing so! – and the only one I can see that definitely should relate to an edit to the shape of the path that surrounds the woods that has disappeared is this one (it is commented as Updating shape of Westridge Woods):

I can’t immediately see what has happened to it, can you?

If you look at the output for your changeset, you can see that you edited nodes that are part of way 4791665. So you can look at and you see that the forest way ist still there, but is now broken in the southeast and therefore not rendered. If you check the ways history you can find that versions 11 to 40 of this way are not accessible any more, which means they have been removed by the redaction bot. Closing the way should fix the problem for this forest; and if you look at the nodes list for this way you will notice that some of them are also members of other ways which might need fixing as well.

Thanks, all, for the help. It does indeed appear to be the “OSMF Redaction Account” user that has wreaked havoc, leaving a bit of a mess behind, quite frankly.

I see that when I go into the potlatch editor, several ways that are invisible in the rendered map are still there in the editing window, including the invisible wood which lyx above correctly notes has a missing section and therefore not rendered. I have now closed that particular way, so the wood has now sprung back to life on the rendered map.

There are also a couple of ways (paths) that are not recognised / of unknown type in the editor… still there but presumably not rendered on the public page because they are now of unknown type.

There are also loads of grey nodes dotted around the place, again of unknown type and again presumably the reason why they are no longer rendered. Many of them appear as though they once formed parts of a way.

I will begin the process of trying to put the pieces back together again.

Is it the case that these “orphan” nodes were created as part of the redaction process because they had certain (vital) information stripped from them, rendering them completely devoid of any useful purpose? The reason being that they were created by users who have not explicitly agreed to continued use of their input under the new licence?

Back to the drawing board…