Suspicious User Activity: Potential Fictional mapping/vandalism

Could someone experienced please verify if the following user’s activity on OpenStreetMap appears to be fictional mapping or vandalism?

Here is the user’s profile:

There are a few reasons for concern:

  • joined earlier this month
  • large bounding boxes across the globe
  • changeset descriptions such as “random”
  • modifying airports taxiways, aprons in St Barthelemy, Dubai and Singapore…
  • unresponsive to changeset comments


Apart from the large BBoxes and the beginner errors, unconnected ways and such, stuff like the aprons and buildings look to be accurately mapped, albeit but for baisc outlines no real details. This looking with Bing as aerials background. Maybe try a PM instead to attract the attention. Discussions abound here how mappers do not notice mails that go out with the CS comments.

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Done. Thanks for the suggestion!

Has this been confirmed? The emails come from distinct subdomains ( and, but it’s unclear why one domain would be allowed while the other is not.

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Did that already some time ago. No reaction

I already had several unresponsive users who only reacted after a 0hour block and said “I never noticed any comments”


There are certainly users who don’t reply to messages, for any of the following reasons.

They did not receive the messages (their mail account or server is broken)

They did not receive or did not see the messages because their mail server or client thought that they were spam.

They received the messages but ignored them because they did not think they were from an actual human.

They ignored the messages because they wanted to.

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IF the messages were somehow treated as spam, who does not review their spam box(?), than my recommendation would be to work over the confirmation message to the mail addy to which the new account was signed up with.

The confirmation message to include language recommending to add the domain as trusted contact. Should prevent the spam box booting.

The language of course before the text asking to hit the hyperlink which sends the reply to OSM that the email address linked to the new account is real.

Who knows some will actually do so.

Also the help splurge that incessantly appears top of the forum might need a section about member contact and the spam concern and how to ensure no member to member comms are missed. And in case you did not know, that number just before your sign in name is an unread msg counter. :nerd_face:

PS It’d be real funny if the confirmation msg is seen when coming from the same domain but not anything after…

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I suspect that this falls into the “technical” category in Cory Doctorow’s famous anti-spam checklist :slight_smile:

More seriously, we have a way of dealing with non-responders already - an API block that expires as soon as they have read a message. If you think this example merits it, drop the DWG a mail and we can send them such a message.

This looks to me like someone has just discovered OSM. They don’t know to “avoid large changesets” because they’ve no idea what a changeset is; they’ve only just discovered that they can edit things. It doesn’t look like vandalism (and nothing has specifically been described as fiction). Maybe they just haven’t seen the comments at OpenStreetMap (OSM) Changeset Discussions (friendly and welcoming for the most part). Some people are just not good at email.

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Has DWG considered delegating user blocks (especially 0-hour) to region/country moderators ?
In this specific case, it might not help since the user changes are global, but I believe in many cases it would be a lot more efficient.

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IIRC @marczoutendijk has been appointed DWG member largely for this reason. The same may also be true for other DWG members. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.)

You’re wrong. DWG members are not appointed for specific reasons or tasks. Any of the DWG members can perform the tasks that all the other members can do also.



Has DWG considered delegating user blocks (especially 0-hour) to
region/country moderators ?

The technology to do that does not currently exist; it would require a
more fine-grained rights management on the openstreetmap-website code.

It is certainly something to look at to cope with future growth of the
project; perhaps (and I am saying this in a private capacity and not as
a DWG opinion) we could even come to a point where users can do that
without being given special privileges - it could be a rule like in the
forum, where if X number of people say “this user is causing a problem”
the user is automatically given a zero-hour block or a “block until a
moderator can look at things” or so.

At present, DWG copes well with the requirement for 0-hour blocks and I
don’t see an immediate need to innovate.


Here’s a simpler solution: why not just inform iD users when they have new messages or changeset comments?

A lot of communication issues arise because users aren’t responsive to community messages.

Most of the time, senders think the recipients are purposely ignoring them, but as we’ve discussed here, some mappers may not even be getting the email notifications or they’re just not good with managing emails.

From what I’ve seen, many of these users are beginners who rely on iD as their main editor.

Implementing this feature would ensure that users who are currently uninformed become aware of the messages, and it would provide us with a clear indication if a user is intentionally ignoring them.


JOSM every time you restart the client at least pops up the reminder left bottom if there’s any unread PMs (stays up way too short… should stay up until [any] key is hit). StreetComplete shows a bright envelope, ID, yawn, a small print number barely noticeable and only if you focus on your own mapping handle way out the line if sight.

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I have submitted a feature request on the OSM website for the inclusion of a “New Community Messages” dialog. Please feel free to comment or add a smiley to help draw attention to it:

Good initiative but better move the github issue to

I’ve already submitted a ticket in iD regarding the “Report User” topic, but I was informed that this matter should be addressed on the OSM website instead. Therefore, I assume that any information related to unread messages and changeset comments would be handled within the website’s tool.

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Unfortunately, for the reasons that I set out above among others, I’m not convinced that that will help with “ignored” messages to new users. The example at the top of this thread was a new user who has now not mapped for 19 days. I suspect that they read the messages and decided that OSM was not for them.

That’s not to say that improvements with e.g. the way that changeset comments are communicated would not help, but there are other issues for that, and an approach with the site maintainers that goes beyond an issue that says “X should change”.

(as is often the case in threads such as this, I’m writing in a personal capacity here)

You may have better luck getting the changes in iD (or other osm api client apps). What an app would need to do is to request user’s latest changesets, remember their comment counts, request changesets again later, see if comment counts change.

"New Community Messages" Dialog for unresponsive mappers · Issue #4080 · openstreetmap/openstreetmap-website · GitHub has already gone the usual route “we first need to decide on A B C D E” - “no, we actually need a bigger change”. Bigger change is not going to happen any time soon.

“Report User” is different because there’s no way to see reported issues through the api.


Those not shy of letting folk know you’ve initiated a user reported, it’s a question of adding a key word/words in a comment to the reported user’s CS. Simple: User reported to DWG. That becomes searchable. This is similar to ‘Revert’ or ‘Reverted’ can be used in the ‘suspicious change set’ filter to find reverts, albeit no doubt some will not use the ‘revert’ word in comments to remain under the radar. The Neis report is though good at keeping counters which revert tool was used. The counter increments the day after another revert.


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Well, people can and do add any text to changeset comments :slight_smile:

A significant minority of the reporta that the DWG get are either “retaliation” reports, or are misplaced for other reasons (accusations of vandalism that aren’t, for example). A public list of “who has been reported” wouldn’t be especially useful, in a similar way that “people who have been blocked” includes lots of entirely blameless people with broken email.

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