Optimum use of notes

Would it be OK to add to Notes - OpenStreetMap Wiki info that creating high volume of notes that someone

  • does not plan to fix
  • are created at high volume
  • are about minor unimportant things
  • are without materials that would allow remote fix (such as image of location)

are not really useful and can be closed?

Among real examples that I encountered was creating 100+ notes about missing waste baskets or creating “add natural=tree for each tree” in a park.

In Poland there were also anonymous notes about speed limit at given location which were not reporting wrong data (speed limit was not tagged there) and were not usable at all as it was unclear where speed limit changes. Edits were still requiring on the ground verification as they were not from some trustworthy account.

I also seen some StreetComplete notes creating notes without photo where this was editable directly with app - in such case I would say that explaining to mapper how this can be edited in app and asking whether they plan to process this notes makes sense. Optionally closing notes of dubious utility after some time (again “here is trach can” notes without photos are common example).

What is “minor unimportant things” depends on area, in well mapped areas reporting missing shop may be helpful, if POIs are basically not mapped then opening note for each shop is not helpful at all.


I’m not sure I understand what the problem is.

Some editors (e.g. StreetComplete) allow you to add a note but not a bin. If the note is at the precise location of the bin, why not just add it, and give the note as a source? (And gently point the user to another app, such as Every Door, where the bin can be created directly)

What’s unimportant for you might be important for others, isn’t more info always good?

Isn’t that precisely what people should be doing when POIs aren’t mapped? (If they aren’t comfortable with adding shops themselves)

A lot of notes need a ground survey to confirm, and what’s the problem with that (e.g. “heard this shop has closed, needs survey”)? What we need in my opinion is better interfaces for browsing notes, for example to classify them into arm chair friendly vs survey required, and so you can hide such a note for yourself if you’re not interested.

Ok that one is funny :laughing:


Check out the statistics about open notes: https://resultmaps.neis-one.org/osm-notes

We have too many open notes. Many countries have thousands or ten-thousands of them. More notes get opened than closed. There are 120 open notes per active users who have ever closed a note at the moment.

Next go to NotesReview, go to your home area, and in the filter settings enable “Search only in current view” and sort by “Least recently updated”.

Example: stale open notes

Depending on the area and how active the notes are managed you will find lots of un-actionable notes such as “new housing, needs survey” from years ago. What purpose do these notes serve if nobody is working on them?

Having only few notes open that are really relevant and can be worked on is more motivating for mappers, since they don’t have to wade through lots of notes that never go away. It’s also more motivating for the note creators to see their notes solved in a timely manner.

I agree that we need better classification of notes, e.g. with tags.

I think Mateusz is not asking for stricter rules what notes can be created. But rather about clearer guidelines at what point useless notes may be closed.


to verify whether anonymous note is at bin location you need to visit this place anyway

SC note can add photo, and asks mapper to add photo

“here is missing not mapped trash can” is always less important “this bridge is washed out and does not exist anymore”

no. Having 100+ “here is a tree” notes is worse than having none, as this makes important note less visible and discourages processing notes

completely misplaced onosm.org notes, troll notes about utterly unimportant or what is not being mapped is also not helpful

If they aren’t comfortable with adding shops themselves then adding 100+ notes is not helpful. It just makes harder to add POIs and discourages using notes.

note for context: we have a really confused user or deliberate troll in my city who adds completely pointless notes.

Actual examples included things “each figure at Wit Stowsz altar should be mapped separately” or “here is a trash can, map it immediately”.

For “points out that existing data is wrong” I would accept much lower threshold (and if someone opened notes “this landuse=grass is gone” I would not close it, but if someone would open 50 “map landuse=grass here” I would ask whether they need help with mapping it and close them after some time)

And yes, “map landuse=grass here” notes were also happening (an anonymous user, several notes, was familiar with OSM tagging, area was without even footways mapped)


that is actually less terrible: if you wait for long time they will appear on aerials

while 5 years old “trash can here” can be safely closed, trash can was likely moved anyway since that time

I was rather thinking about documenting existing practice (in Poland note processing seems going reasonably well: we are not closing notes just to improve statistics and reach “0 open notes!” but we close low-priority notes of low usefulness)

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very confusing: here open notes are green and closed notes are red

Uhm, doesn’t seem so to me. Green (open or closed) notes are newer and red (open or closed) notes are older, with shades in between.

For ME (as a notes power user) thats a perfect reason to use notes but we had a discussion in the German Forum just a couple days back concerning the use of “tracking notes” for Construction works and construction areas.
I was extensively using this as a “geographical located temporary mailinglist” to communicate with all stakeholders interested in that specific feature and area.

I was told not to, so i closed most of notes in my area and created a bot which will reopen the bugs after time.

Concerning your further informations - For me notes are explicitly something which needs local knowledge and most likely visiting the place. Issues fixable from an arm chair POV i would rather see in other systems like MapRoulette.

And there is no such thing as “minor” or “unimportant” - Thats a highly subjective view. Some people may see Benches as important, some may view street lamps as important. There is no ONE view.

Notes are a hint “something is missing or wrong” and they are perfectly fine as long as its missing or wrong.


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I agree that some guidelines could be added for easier justification of closing notes with unrelated or useless for the occasion info.

I have seen some StreetComplete notes being created while what is asked in the note is already created by the same user who added the note. This case is useless as it’s open note about something that already exists (at the same time the note was created).

About speed limits I’m not sure if it’s useful or not in most cases, as it’s supposed for the most roads to be considered by the routing app being used, which follow the official per country speed limits. I can understand the usefulness when the noted road has different speed limit from the suggested official ones.

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If you only look at open notes, then right.

But change the filter to show all notes, like notes on osm.org. Then the display is exactly the opposite of osm.org - and that is confusing.

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There is about zero cost to create a note that indicates “something is missing or wrong” based on armchair observation and significant human cost (in terms of knowledgeable and available mappers and their spare time) in reading, understanding and investigating the provided information. And, once the number of unresolved notes in an area reaches a critical point, there would be no mappers left willing to address them – most of them being just an unactionable noise.

“Someone™ should go here and fix this” is a very lazy way to contributing to the map, and we should not encourage it. There should be a guideline how to submit useful notes and how to determine and resolve such by the mappers, but the bar for tackling them should be placed higher rather than lower.


There’s no text in the UI at all, so there’s no way to do that. Perhaps the author could be persuaded to write an OSM diary entry explaining what buttons actually do what?

Only if it is unusual that the object is missing.

In a city where almost all trees are mapped, hunting down the few that are still missing would be a valuable contribution.

But in a city where almost no trees are mapped yet, placing notes for missing trees is unhelpful and discourages mappers from working on closing notes due to the clutter. If local mappers were interested in mapping trees, they would have no trouble finding unmapped trees without the well-meaning help of the person creating the notes.

This way of looking at it doesn’t require an objective metric of importance, it just looks at what mappers in the area have decided to map so far. If someone feels that a type of object which is important to them has been unduly neglected, they should be encouraged to start adding them themselves rather than adding notes asking other people to do so.


Click on “Filter” and then this settings dialog should come up?

Does it not work for you like that? (I’m not the author of the tool.)

Similarly creating “building here is missing” may be very useful in well mapped area, dubious in partially mapped area and very dubious in area where no buildings are mapped.

Placing 200 notes “here is unmapped building” in OpenStreetMap (some location in China, 0 buildings mapped) would be pointless

While doing the same in well mapped area where almost all buildings are mapped can be quite helpful (though mapping a building is better than opening 200 notes about missing buildings).


use the filter-button to show the options

It didn’t (I was on a phone). “Search only in current view” is there, but you have to scroll down to find it, and it’s not obvious on the front screen what button does what because there is no text at all.

For less confusing colors you can try my viewer. Check the checkbox next to the Bounding box input, zoom in to the area of interest, click “Fetch notes”.

“Fetch only open notes sorted by last updated date, oldest first” should already be selected if you open the link I put here. Otherwise set them if you want to find unmaintained notes.

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I want to mention the proposal for adding tags to notes: Mark notes as important · Issue #3626 · openstreetmap/openstreetmap-website · GitHub
This would allow users to find/classify whatever they see as “important” and hopefully reduce the cases of users trying to tell others how they should notes.

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As it says on that discussion though, what’s “Important”?

The concept mentioned there of having to add tags to say Survey Required etc is a good idea though! :+1: