If OSM is open, why users are closed?

Hi everyone.

OSM is based on the principles of openness, isn’t it?

Then why so many users, have only avatars, but not photos of themself? Our faces, voices, and postures make us valid as humans; they differentiate us from each other.

It would be interesting to see the percentage of users with avatars/photos, and lets say their activity, their productivity. It could be an interesting sociological investigation.

Any idea how to do that?



And so do our actions and interactions, tied to our contributions and projects. I am fine with that.


On the surface the question is silly, but I have to somewhat agree. For a social project OSM is surprisingly “antisocial”. That is, barely anyone even comments others’ changesets or participates in the forum. My two guesses are:

  1. osm.org interface lacks discoverability and doesn’t make it obvious how to interact with other people, it is very easy to map for days on end without bumping into anyone.
  2. people who map in OSM are more likely to be privacy-focused (as they use OSM in opposition to Google Maps which tracks you)

but why privacy in community-based projects? This question stands for internet overall. People are obsessed with privacy:) Meanwhile, it does not exist in groups.

I do not understand the context. OSM is not a social network where I throw my private data around. There are good reasons to keep your data private even if you are working on a free map.

You can go to the regulars’ tables or conferences to get to know each other personally.


@Langlaeufer the same is true for conferences: why share your personal data? But if you are not there, everyone will consider you abnormal, but not here.

The context is straightforward:
Searching for privacy in a community trying to help mankind makes me feel confused. I want to understand at least a bit by looking at the statistics of user activity.

When we edit the map, we leave behind a lot of data about when we were where. I don’t want this to be directly linked to my real name and face.


I (also) don’t understand what a real name, a passport photo and a voice recording of one’s own voice have in relation to social interaction in a (virtual) space.
Is Reddit, Hacker News or 4chan less successful than Facebook? And while we’re on the subject of statistics: What percentage of Facebook users are fake/bots?

If we look at an application process in a company: What influence does this information have when evaluating a person’s skills? Would we treat each other differently based on these “human components”?
If so, why? We would only be stereotyping each other and categorizing each other in pigeonholes.

You have revealed a portrait and a name.
(Sidenote: How do we know if this is real and not a deep fake?)
As of today, you have made 631 map changes. Should these be rated more highly than someone who is anonymous here but has contributed over a million changes?


Hiding your personal identity on the internet is very important to protect yourself against unwanted attention from malicious actors. It recently happened that a Dutch mapper was doxxed by a troll who called the mapper a child rapist and various other nasty things.

Instead of using our real names online, we often use meetups like video calls and in-person conferences to make the OpenStreetMap project more human.


At what point does it become abnormal not to be at an OSM meetup/conference? We certainly cannot be everywhere.

At a social meetup or conference I can choose what information I share with others over food or a beer but I certainly don’t want that information published.


There’s been a long history of people using handles and nicks, instead of “legal names”. It’s helps ensure people are judged based on what they do, rather than appearance. Too many people say they don’t judge based on looks, but they do it subconscienceouly anyway. We’re only human after all.

“The Conscience of a Hacker”, Phrack


to be abnormal at the conference means not share your personal data, like name, face, etc.

Virtual space makes no difference to human interactions, at least for me. Say to others what you can say when your offline in private conversation. People are shy in general; they are afraid of speaking out loud, and virtual space makes their internal voice sound more confident.

In real life, I can also lie to you in a myriad of other ways, but why doing so? The same is true here. I live my life, having to intention to lie to people deliberately.

this becomes personal:) My personal achievements are compared to someone else:) And still the question of this thread is still open. Who to tackle this issue? Are there means of doing it?

You’re right, I should have chosen two completely fictitious examples. That was inappropriate for this context.

Thanks for your honesty - then I guess we can assume that your personal information here is fake :wink:
(or is there a typo?)

To recapitulate this: Is there a issue at all? If yes, which?


That depends.

Someone could be from a culture where they have to keep their face
hidden, it would be wrong to try to change that.

We wear badges with a name on them, although it is not necessarily the
name shown on their drivers licence. Lots of people are known by a name
other than their legal name. Here, and I imaging in most countries, it
is perfectly legal to call yourself whatever you want provided you
aren’t doing it for fraudulent reasons.

What is more useful on a badge is your OSM username, which wasn’t used
on the badges at SOTM_EU until we were encouraged to write it on them
in the first session.


You take a random sample of OSM user IDs, check the associated user profile to see how much information they share about themselves, check their editing activity (e.g. through HDYC), and test whichever hypotheses and correlations you’re interested in.


Direct question then:

Is there a direct way to get information on OSM user’s profiles to play with statistics?

https://hdyc.neis-one.org/ ?


what statistics won’t tell you about is the way some people are known by their first names in forums or chatrooms, even though their public profiles don’t mention them.


For what purpose do you need my photo?