Survey about OSM communication behaviors

Hi everyone,

We are doing a research project on how OpenStreetMap users interact with each other. Are you willing to help us learn more about communication behaviors in OSM? Take this quick and anonymous survey and tell us if and how you use the OSM community forum, mailing lists, social media and other channels: (Google Forms)
Communicating in OpenStreetMap - community forum (LimeSurvey)
(the content of these surveys is the same)

If you want to take the survey but can’t access it, please email us at

We were able to create a survey in LimeSurvey due to the generosity of the OSMF, and two of us are members of the OSMF Communication Working Group, but this is not a project of the OSMF or of the CWG.
Three of us work for TomTom and dedicate TomTom time and resources to its execution.

We will share the results of this survey, along with other data, with the community. This can help users better understand communication habits in OSM, so they can identify the most effective ways to reach other community members. We will be presenting our findings at State of the Map US in Richmond, Virginia and in diary entries. So stay tuned for more and thank you for participating in our survey.

Have a great weekend!

Marjan Van de Kauter (TomTom community engager and OSMF Communication Working Group member)
Courtney Williamson (OSMF Communication Working Group member)
Keara Dennehy (TomTom business analyst)
L.J. Lambert (TomTom business analyst)


Great initiative and I look forward to the results :grinning:

A big thank you to everyone who entered the survey already! We look forward to analyzing the results.

For those of you who would like to participate, but prefer not to fill out a Google Form, we have now also created a survey in LimeSurvey. You can find it here.

Have a great week!



Interesting survey. Quick Q: What option for “gender” should trans people (incl. trans women) like me select?

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Hmm, What should I select as a Non-Binary Transgender Woman? Which part of my identity should I ignore for their survey?

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@_ᚐᚋᚐᚅᚇᚐ_️ @AmyCupcake First of all, I apologize for the way the question about gender identity is asked. We by no means wanted to imply that transgender (wo)men aren’t (wo)men.

As I already told Amanda, the question was actually supposed to be a multiple-answer question, so people could select “woman”, “transgender woman”, … depending on how they identify and phrase their identity. But, we accidentally made the question multiple choice, meaning only one option can be selected. Unfortunately we’re not technically able to change the question type after the survey has been activated.

If none of these answer options enable you to accurately indicate your gender identity, I encourage you to use the free text field of the other option–not because we want to be othering, but because technically this is the only way we can make sure you can give the answer you want to give.

In the future, we will make sure not to make this mistake. And, I welcome any input on what is the best way to ask this question. We looked up recommendations, but these vary.



Could the moderators here please edit this thread and to make very clear this is not a project by the OSMF Working group, just have people which are from the OSMF Working Group? The distinction is not clear, and is causing confusion.

The only explicitly hint about this was the recently released Weekly, and while different versions of the wiki are translated differently (making more prominent the difference), they have something in common with the English version (, which states explicitly:

“The survey is being conducted in a private capacity and is not a project of the OSMF Communication Working Group.”

Not just OSMF board, but working group members, such as DWG, are very clear when they are talking in name of their OSMF-related working groups when this could cause confusion. The analogy here (with members of a working group doing a task expected by the working group but without being official) would obviously apply. The OSMF Communication Working Group should have granted exception.


I’ve added a clarifying note to the original message.


Hi everyone,

Thank you for all the responses we’ve received so far. Those of you would still like to share their experience by filling out the survey, can do so until tomorrow (Friday May 12) 15:00 CET, which is when we’ll close the survey.

Enjoy the rest of your day!



Hello / Kumusta Marjan and Courtney,

Hope you are doing well :slight_smile:

I appreciate your initiative to conduct the Communications in OSM survey and look forward to hearing from you on your SotM US presentation :slight_smile:

I am wondering if we could collaborate in writing / documenting the best practice in conducting community surveys in OSM? This way, we can direct people (researchers, community members, etc) who wish to conduct surveys (and even focus group discussions, etc) to a written document to take note of before /when they share their survey in different channels.

We can make a new wiki or add to the existing good practice wiki (which is mostly good practices in mapping).

(Just crossposting here in case there is wider interest from anyone who would like yo take part) :slight_smile:

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I think it’s a very interesting and meaningful survey.
If this survey is not targeted to contributors from a specific language or region, I think it should have at least been publicized in different communities(sub categories) to give a broader range of people the opportunity to participate.
Even if it’s unavoidable that some people won’t be able to participate in your survey due to language barriers, I think it would be more balanced to at least give everyone a chance to participate across language boundaries.
As you may know, the content in this category is not well shared with non-English speakers.
Even if you can’t get the word out in every language, please at least consider making it visible to people in all languages.
Thank you.

Agreed. But how to best do it? Perhaps adding tag like announcement to the post would allow people to subscribe to only such low-traffic high-interest tag.

But such feature would still need to be made visible somehow by making it more prominent / shown by default, probably, or it would not be discoverable by people. Do you think something like that would help @adreamy ?

Finding ways to communicate across language boundaries is my biggest challenge these days.
If we can’t cross cultural barriers due to language constraints, I think wikis like OSM are bound to be pretty biased.
My theory so far is that non-English speaking contributors who are afraid of English are stuck in ‘country communities’ and don’t look at the ‘General talk’ category much.
We need to find a way to make it visible to everyone, including non-English speaking contributors, so I once expressed an opinion that I wish there was a function that could be displayed in each language by translating just the title.
I will present my organized thoughts after I think about it more deeply.
I hope other people can also think about it and find a good solution.

We will be meeting with Arnalie about this topic at State of the Map US. Others attending the conference who are interested in the subject are very welcome to join the conversation. If you want to take part but won’t be at SotM US, shoot us a message and we can update you on what we discussed when we get back.

Looking forward to working on this with you @arnalielsewhere !

let’s make a BoF for this + other communications strategy with the community in SotM US! then revert back here in discourse for follow ups? :slight_smile:

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Yes, sounds like a plan!

Btw, in the mailing list conversation about this topic I spotted an interesting comment from @Minh_Nguyen, which we could discuss too:

If we had a comprehensive how-to guide on the wiki about effective persuasion on the mailing lists, maybe the mailing lists would look a little more attractive – or just difficult.

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@adreamy I agree that people from different regions speaking different languages should be heard in initiatives like this. We did post the survey in a couple of big region-specific channels (for example the African and Asian Telegram groups), but we did not have the resources to initiate a conversation in the many regional channels out there. We do realize that this, as well as other factors such as the fact that we reached out in English, has an impact on the survey results, so we know they don’t represent the whole OSM community.

The issue of cultural and language barriers is actually one of the reasons why we wanted to investigate communications in OSM. Besides the results of the survey, we also have data on channel usage, so we hope that putting this information together can lead to additional insights into the problem and inspire new ideas to overcome these boundaries.

To be continued :blush:

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Hi, all,

Just jumping in to this thread with a link to a diary post about the Comms Survey and @MarjanVan and my project in general.

As Marjan noted, we’re presenting at SotM US on the 9th and will post a follow-up to that sometime shortly after.

I like @arnalielsewhere’s idea of having a BoF discussion about this in Richmond; maybe we could define some next steps for the most important needs. There is a lot that can be done and maybe we could work asynchronously and together at SotM EU, Asia and Africa.