How do OSM prefer organisations to update and add to OSM data?


we at Microsoft Research are working on an app that will extensively use OSM data to surface POIs for users. Microsoft would like to encourage some of its partners and users to help update, add, and improve the data in OSM where appropriate. What is OSM’s preferred approach for 3rd party individuals and organisations to get involved with OSM?

We want to make sure that we ask people to be engaged in the appropriate manner to the benefit of everyone that uses OSM.

Any advice would be welcome.

Do you mean within the app, or in general?

They need to create an account on OSM, and be in a position to receive messages if anyone adds change set comments. Obviously they need to understand the copyright issues relating to data sources and the policies on bulk imports.

In my view, has been an example of the problems that arise when this is not done properly. A lot of bad updates come through as well as a lot of bad map notes that take time to validate as invalid. mappers tend not to see when people add changeset comments explaining what they have done wrong, and wouldn’t understand how to use the standard tools to correct the errors…

If the user isn’t going to understand the mapping community, using map notes that the community can then apply is slightly better, but, as I said, resulted in a lot of map notes that take time to validate and reject.

Hi Steven

That seems like a fairly high-level thing to be asked on the Q&A forum, but I’ll give it a try:

  • in general we prefer contributors to have proper OSM accounts and not to interact with OSM through an intermediary, regardless of what the tool or app,
  • as has already been said, users should be aware that they are editing a public map on which their changes will immediately be active and be prepared to interact with the wider OSM community and receive messages,
  • there is a fair bit of obscure detail that is involved in developing OSM editing applications that needs to be considered, even if you are just changing tags (see my talk at SOTM Brussels in 2016, not sure if it can still be found though), please test against a sandbox and ask for help if necessary.


Simon, do you mean this talk: ?

Yes, but it is only available on youtube.