Large amount of personal tags in West Bank / Gaza Strip

I noticed many personal bookmarks in those areas. Most of them are marked as tourism=guest_house, usually having the name “X’s house” or “My House”. So people are tagging specific houses and marking who lives there.

I usually remove such edits, but in this case, the massive amount (added by different independent people) makes me want to consult the community first. Are people actually using these for something?


As you can see here, they are made by users. Often those users have no clue what they are doing and they think they only add a note for personal use.

Rather than providing a disguised overpass query, which will consume considerable resources, for everyone who looks at it, could you provide map links for a small sample of problem nodes and ways, and an overt query.

The example I selected, at random, from the query results, seems to have a name that should be in the description, and possibly operator tags, not the name, tag, First house of Mr. Abu Salman (بيت اولا منزل السيد ابو سلمان), but could be legitimate, and really needs checking on the ground.

First could translate ambiguously. I’ve assumed this refers to a guest house operator operating more than one house, however, it could be that guest_house is wrong, and this was the first place that a private individual lived. The former would be a legitimated thing to map; the latter would potentially be a data protection violation.

Where people try to map their private residence or their own itinerary, it tends to be as notes, and, for itineraries doesn’t name the establishment or operator.

I know Arabic. “First” doesn’t make sense in this context, and that particular sentence seems miswritten and grammatically incorrect.

The vast majority of tags seem to be “my house” or “'s house”. I suspect these aren’t guest houses at all, but I could be wrong. Such guest house density seems weird. Note that plenty are also marked as “tourism attractions”, “alpine huts”, or even “castles”.

I am tempted to clean this up but first I want to be sure the points are of no value to the locals. The problem is that: 1. Most mappers seem to be “silent” Maps.Me mappers, and I can’t find any active Palestine community to consult or contact. 2. Surveying is physically not an option.

I’ve certainly (with a DWG hat on) tidied up rogue MAPS.ME guest houses and similar misused markers in this area, but it’s worth mentioning that even some “personal markers” have value - they can confirm street names, for example. Also some of the last lot of markers that I looked at (a while ago now) were edited by more than one person (one seemed to be a home/office of someone who was associated with someone in the government), suggesting a wider value than just “personal markers”.

I would try to contact the mappers concerned before deleting though (in the linked example above no-one has yet: ). It’s true that most MAPS.ME mappers won’t reply, but you can’t blame them for not replying if they were never asked in the first place.

The “First” was a Google Translate rendering of the Arabic. My comment about the word “first” was basically that, even if the translation had been technically correct, some of the meaning could have been lost. The actual map object only has Arabic text.


Perhaps you should try to inform the local community, so they can reach out to the mappers in their native language ?

It seems the local community is practically dead. My attempts to contact local editors failed, and most of them just make a single/several MAPS.ME edit then disappear.

I plan to clear all “my house”-type POIs in the area. Those are obviously not useful for anyone except the original mapper.

Do you think I should also clear “X’s house”? These are the points I am wondering if being used, because there are so many of them.

For Data Protection legislation reasons, OSM should not contain the names of living individual, so X’s house would only be legitimate if X is a company, “X’s house” is a company, or X is a famous deceased person.

(Unfortunately the harm is already done, as, without a full redaction the personal data is still stored in the object history.)

Well, it depends. As I mentioned before, some of the previous West Bank/Gaza edits that were of the form “X’s house” were actually edited by more than one MAPS.ME user. In at least one case X was someone associated with the government, so “X’s house” was not unlike a sort of “council office”. When I was cleaning data before I used “more than one MAPS.ME user has edited the data” as an indicator that it probably ought to stay.

That said, some stuff clearly doesn’t belong in OSM (e.g. “my house” ).

Normally I’d also try and contact the users concerned in a language that they’re likely to be familiar with (although the “my house” node obviously suggests they have better command of English than I have of Arabic). Online translation tools such as Google Translate and Bing Translator may not be perfect, but even if it’s as bad as at least some words in a recognisable language should draw the reader’s attention. However, with MAPS.ME, there’s always a reasonable chance that they have no idea what OSM is, are just creating personal markers, used a throwaway email account to sign up and therefore never see changeset discussion comment messages. In these cases a 0-hour block message that the user has to read before continuing to edit will effectively stop them contributing (at least from that account)

I can speak Arabic fluently. I tried contacting mappers in both languages. So far I got 1 response, saying the houses are probably just personal bookmarks. Cases like the “council office” example above are exactly why I was reluctant to delete. “X’s house” can have a different meaning locally, or some value.

What do you think the best course of action should be? Should I assume most edits are junk and go ahead and delete anything “X’s house” that was edited only by a single MAPS.ME user?

That’s pretty much what I did last time a DWG ticket came in for them - the exception being where if there was other useful info on the node (like part of an address, for example).

I started the cleanup. With these rough rules:

  • Remove all “my house” type nodes

  • Remove all “X’s house” type nodes, unless X seems a relevant public figure. E.g. has one of the prefixes lawyer - محامي - doctor - دكتور - Mukhtar - مختار, edited by multiple people, etc.

  • If it has a “ديوان” in the name (Roughly translated to Saloon / pub / community meeting area), keep it (Currently looking for the best tag replacement for guest_house).

  • If it seems legitimate but mistagged, just replace the guest_house tag (often with building=yes/aparments). Some typical indicators: اسكان, بناية

Changes so far:

@hadw, Minor note: I think اولا is just a mistyped اولاد, meaning “children”. Probably someone tagged the house of his son/daughter.

If you are guessing the correct main tag, add a FIXME tag that says (in Arabic) something like: “Originally mapped as guest_house, using Assumed to be xxxxxx because yyyyyy. Please verify.”


I decided to inspect the rest of the middle east, and simple overpass queries reveal a treasure trove of personal bookmarks. Do I have the green-light to exterminate them?

For instance, the following query caught 499 nodes. The vast majority is personal bookmarks.




/* 3 variations of the word home/house */

The location distribution is interesting. Image:

Thanks for the analysis!

Unlikely though it is to get a reply, I’d definitely try and contact the mappers concerned first via changeset discussion comments. If you get a case of mappers ignoring comments but keeping adding “home” locations, drop a mail to the DWG and we can send a message that they have to read before continuing mapping. That’ll stop those who have no idea what OSM even is, and at that stage it’s definitely OK to get rid of obviously dodgy MAPS.ME-entered locations (subject to the caveats discussed above about what might be a “useful” entry).

Best Regards,

Andy from the DWG

Is that procedure really necessary? There are probably thousands of personal bookmarks. Contacting them all is time-consuming and inefficient. Additionally, most of them are 1 -time Maps.Me editors. They add their home and disappear. No real need for blocking them, so contacting the DWG will consume the DWG’s time needlessly. Lastly, Maps.ME 1-timers never answer. The chance is 1 in a thousand.

On a tangent: The situation seems severe. Are there any efforts being made to make the MAPS.ME devs fix their app? In its current state, the app is doing so much damage. Simple UI changes / notices may be enough to get people to use the bookmarks rather than the map editor.