Insane details on maps - oh no!

Dear all,

i love this project, and the idea that everyone can contribute. I have used an app that uses OSM data and travelled to beautiful places!

But when i think about that everyone can contribute, i see a bit of a problem:
There may be quite a few people that have a lot of time, and love details. Details always mean data, and data needs storage and processing time. Also many details will let you lose your focus on what you are actually looking for.

How far do we want to go with details? Is it a good idea to map every tree, hydrant, sign, street lamp? Draw a line that is actually only 3 meters long but has 12 nodes and even is not something that you could travel on?

For me, a map is actually something i use for orientation. But i always appreciate interesting points that a map shows me along the way.

I dont know if this is the right place to discuss this, because im glad a even found this foum. :roll_eyes:

I would like to hear your opinions about this.

Welcome to the OSM forum! :slight_smile:

To make a good map, you have to leave out irrelevant details. You’re right about that.

But in OSM, we generally see collecting data and making a map as two separate tasks. When collecting data, we’re just trying to make sure it correctly depicts the real world. Making a map is a step that happens afterwards. Maps based on OSM never include all the data – but they just leave it out of their maps, they don’t remove it from the OSM database itself.

Why do we do it that way? Because detail which is irrelevant for one map is often very important for a different map. Railway signals, lighthouse colors or fire hydrants are useless clutter on most maps – but there are specialist maps for railway enthusiasts, navigators and firefighters where this kind of information is essential. OSM wants to be useful for all sorts of use cases, not just for mainstream maps, so we can’t do the filtering at the data collection step.

Doing it this way also makes it more pleasant to work together with people who have different opinions. (And there are a lot of different opinions in a worldwide project!) Because we leave the filtering to the map makers, and because there are different maps for different tastes, we don’t need to fight over how important something is all the time.

Storage and processing time aren’t that much of an issue in practice – the entirety of the OSM database is still at a quite manageable size, and generally one of the first steps of working with it is to automatically discard any data you’re not interested in. Also, the bulk of the space is currently taken up by features that are widely considered important (roads and buildings are about 75% of the ways in the database).

P.S.: Es gibt übrigens auch ein deutschsprachiges Unterforum, falls dir das lieber ist.