Perhaps we need a list of dos and don'ts

Oops, I just map and was not aware of this forum.

Here’s my post from OSM help:

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!

The wiki has a page on “good practice”, which is basically a list of the most common dos and don’ts:
Maybe that’s a good starting point for your idea?

That kind of feedback is definitely important. When you see that some user makes the same mistakes repeatedly, it’s good to tell them – in a polite and encouraging manner of course.

You can use the changeset discussion feature to contact the mapper directly with respect to a changeset that contains “problems”.

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?

There’s an Australian sub-forum here , but almost no-one uses it, if you ignore the posts in there from Germans trying to interest Australians in their pet projects.

The talk-au mailing list is fairly active and is actually one of the more sane ones these days.

If you use this RSS feed in your RSS reader, you see all new mappers (who did at least one edit) in Australia for the last 7 days.

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!

Maybe an idea for Australia?

Each change you make is part of a changeset. I believe that iD make a changeset whenever you save your changes to the server. So you are using changesets, perhaps without realizing it.

When you want to comment on someone’s changeset.

  1. Go to
  2. zoom in on the area
  3. press the question mark on the right side
  4. with the question mark cursor, click on the feature that is not mapped correctly.
  5. Pick the right feature from the list of displayed features on the left
  6. The most recent change to the feature is now mentioned in one of the top lines
  7. click the changeset number
  8. start writing your comment

some additional info with screenshot can be found here: