I’m just a beginner when it comes to using and contributing to OSM. My Mom (age 80+) asked about it, so I sent her a link showing some of my work. (I live in Thailand she lives in the US.) She had two comments:
1 - Why are the names in Thai? Wouldn’t it be more useful to a tourist if they could display the names in English?
2 - How come when I click on an icon (hotel) nothing comes up? (She meant more data, like contact number, etc.)
There’s really nothing on the OSM main page that explains what the + icon does, or how to view the underlying data. (Even if you manage to click on the + sign and tick the “data” box, unless you’re zoomed way in you always the message: “You have loaded an area which contains xxx features…”, which is rather intimidating for a naive user.
It seems there ought to be a more user-friendly way to get at underlying data.
Well OSM is more a portal for entering and managing data and viewing some standard renderings. More specific products created from OSM data will be created over time.
Regarding the Thai/English thing, it’s the communities view that place names should be in the language spoken in the country in question. However the data is all in there, so there’s nothing stopping someone from rendering an entirely English version of OSM. A year or so ago someone did an entirely Welsh language rendering of Britain.
The lack of interactivity is, of course, a normal thing with maps. There have been some experimental live vector renderings, for example Halcyon. These have the potential to provide enormously interactive maps.
Personally I just don’t think the OSM homepage is meant for general consumption yet. It’s still pretty much for us geogeeks.
You’re probably right. I wonder, though, if there would be wider interest if the OSM homepage were easier to use. It wouldn’t take much.
For example, the “+” could be explained in the sidebar, with a note about ticking the data box. The data section could default to responding to clicks on the map rather than loading the entire dataset with the concomitant browser warning. There could be a link to the “Browse” section of the wiki.
In fact, the sidebar should probably contain the “Data” option in the same way it now contains the “Map Key” option. They both display their info in the same place. Why navigate to one from the side bar and to the other from the rather hidden “+” icon menu?