We don't need anonymous notes

Don’t take the survey too seriously. I wanted to get at least some approximate opinion of the community.

You can always write a comment, and others will support it.


I usually do what @Peter_Elderson Peter does.

Sometimes I also use anonymous notes. Most of the time I’m accidentally not logged in.
And there may be reasons for some users not to have their personal data linked to the geographic location of the note. Good reasons (data protection) as well as bad reasons (vandalism and insults).


That would be ideal, but there are a couple problems that necessitate an intermediate human review step, even with a brilliantly designed form:

  • There isn’t a straightforward one-to-one correspondence between colloquial shop types and OSM feature tags. Presets help, but there are still nuances that confuse even relatively experienced mappers. The most robust solution to this problem would be to ask the shopkeeper for the official classification of their business, such as NAICS in North America. But not every region has such strong regulations that a shopkeeper – or their back-office staff – would know this code off-hand. In the U.S., for example, they’d only know know the NAICS code if they’ve had to apply for a government program. But even if they do know the code, we don’t know the OSM tags for most NAICS codes.

  • Most shopkeepers are skilled at using a map, not drawing one. They may not be able to place a pin on the actual location. onosm.org helps the user by geolocating the address and asking them to refine the location. The frustration I usually hear from other mappers is that the resulting location rarely meets their standard for precision, especially in a large retail or commercial complex where multiple buildings share the same house number. These are often the cases where we need the shopkeeper’s feedback most. Geocoding is unreliable in a locality that doesn’t have comprehensive building and address coverage, but notes are one of the methods for increasing this coverage.

These are the main reasons my local community carried out our “import” as a MapRoulette challenge and encouraged mappers to cross-reference an authoritative parcel layer and street-level imagery (aside from the data entry errors I mentioned earlier and the increasing staleness of the data we’re working with).

I’d like to note that there are accounts which are used as a proxy by maps.cz to post anonymous notes non-anonymously, like Pan Perníček | OpenStreetMap . The quality of the notes is the same as from truly anonymous ones.


I wonder if a more limited form of anonymous notes could be useful, that rather than allowing free text, only allowed the addition of a limited set of flags (i.e. missing POI, business has closed, road has closed, missing stairs, etc). That way, we wouldn’t provide a place for people to write things anonymously (that have to be moderated), but it would still be possible to provide feedback without an account.


Some way of blocking personal Notes (This place / Start here / Turn 5 …) that don’t belong on OSM at all would be good.


it is noticeably better as they filter out blatant garbage - and when notes are about specific objects they link it in the note.

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Anonymous notes may still be valuable as a low-effort first contact to the OSM experience.

When I first came across OSM, there was the “openstreetbugs” website, still not integrated into the main map. I noticed something wrong with a street in my area, and left an anonymous note. After a few days, the mistake was corrected by a local mapper. That experience got me interested enough in OSM to actually make an account myself.

So when I see anonymous notes, I try to make sense of it and fix what’s wrong. I always try to leave a “thank you” reply when I close them. A few times when there were more notes seemingly from the same person, I tried to nudge them into registering with OSM, so they could start mapping themselves.

Of course, I’ve also closed pure spam / rubbish notes without further ado. I guess I’m lucky that those don’t happen too often in my area.


Oh garbage notes don’t bother me, you just close them and be done with it, no brain cycles needed. It’s the notes which may point to a problem, but don’t have enough information, which bother me. You spend time to understand what someone meant and then may not succeed and leave the note to pollute. I’ve seen quite a few of misplaced notes from maps.cz with limited information.

I think maybe more statuses would help to filter notes. Like needs survey, not enough information, requires specific domain knowledge, micromapping, etc.

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Anonymous notes are valuable informations from outside the OSM community, which helps us to improve our database - I think it’s a good choice to also use this source in the future.

To be able to do this efficiently, I think it’s necessary to develop the current note system further.

Something has already been mentioned, but in any case it would be helpful if it were possible to categorize notes by subject areas (e.g. POI, hiking, landuse, roads, public transport,…) and maybe also by information sources (e.g. app name). This would offer the possibility to filter by categories, so that users only see those notes they are interested in.

This would make the “note flood” more manageable and easier to work on. Guidelines to deal with spam, trolls or offensive comments would also be helpful in this context.

I think, this would make notes more attractive and hopefully decreases the number of open notes too.


The ones that particularly annoy me are those Notes created by very experienced mappers, which aren’t clear enough for others to fix, but which they haven’t resolved themself (in some cases, 4 years later! :crazy_face:) & they don’t respond to questions that other people leave :angry:

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Just resolve them. There is no point in this noise if no one can benefit from it. I don’t think it’s rude if they didn’t bother in 4 years and don’t react to message about their note getting resolved.

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But how? It seems unlikely that a person will see your tips left in the comments.


I just wrote a nice reply when I closed the note and pointed out how to register and get started in OSM. I’d imagine even if someone opens a note anonymously on openstreetmap.org, they might look at it again to see if something happened. Of course they wouldn’t get an email and couldn’t reply directly – all the more reasons to get an account!


Anonymous note are useful when,

A) The note is placed correctly
B) Gives a photo of the object

Not useful when
C) Read it in the paper and it’s somewhere in this area, popular here ‘defibrillators’ that are inside buildings that cannot be surveyed. Ebike charging stations, the pin a streetblock away from it’s actually located.

Maybe anonymous note pins should have an expiration date, auto close if not acted on or not commented on in the last 365 days. For sure, never seen an anonymous comment back on a query.

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anonymous comments are not possible (due to specific persistent troll), some anonymous open a new note to reply

A) can only be determined by a human mapper
B) I don’t think adding snapshots is standard in all important clients.

Automated note closing will always close correct and useful notes, along with useless notes. I find one year for useless notes way too long anyway. It’s way better to organise prompt handling of all notes, then close the useless ones, fix the fixable ones, and determine how to handle the notes that require more information/survey or progress monitoring.

Only if they recorded the note url, which is unlikely. Otherwise they won’t find their note after it was closed.

Or know where it was, it is rare but anonymous posters do occasionally comment on their notes.

it is impossible for some time now - and all such case are from times where it was possible