Most OSM mappers are amateur cartographers. Some I would classify as artists (they draw whatever they see).
The trouble is that poor mapping is less helpful for end users, can be difficult to maintain and is certainly laborious to correct (if some other mapper makes the effort to correct).
I think OSM could do more to educate OSM mappers and encourage them to be effective mappers. What could we do?
There is a helpful post on this help forum about common mapping mistakes. Perhaps this could be enhanced with some general best practices, becoming a list of dos and don’ts and then formalised as a Wiki article. Maybe this already exists, then how come common mapping mistakes persist? Maybe there is a better way to educate and encourage OSM mappers. Perhaps some polite enforcement is required, like sending a message to and OSM mapper informing them of a mistake and how to fix it.
If you’re from some place with a large and thriving OSM community (e.g. Europe) you may not understand this post. My experience if from the Australia-Pacific region where we have vast areas to map and not enough OSM mappers. If you’re planning a holiday, we have 1000s of poorly mapped square-kilometres waiting for you!
Trouble is that I am spending hours to correct other’s sloppy work. I can’t help but fix something if I see it is “wrong”.
Few amateur mappers know how to use changesets. I’m just learning myself after someone questioned one of my changesets (where I deleted a tag that was not required according to the Australian guidelines).
Contacting people directly is perhaps best but nobody likes to be told they’ve made a “mistake”.
I guess the only solution is to form a strong local OSM community so that there are enough mappers seeking continuous improvement. Is there a place to join up with other OSM mappers?
I use such a list (but of course for my country, the Netherlands) to send all mappers in my country a welcome message with some useful links to get them on their way.
I also do a quick scan of their first edit to see if they really got stuck or really messed up.
We have roughly 20 new editing mappers each week. Most of those mappers though, are mostly doing some small edits around their home and do not come back very often!
But based on the response to my welcome message it sometimes really helps them in their decision to do more mapping!