Have there been any discussions about whether to make searching the map compatible with what3words?


It’s a commercial company, but free to use.

There have been plenty of discussions on what3words (search the talk archive).
Since it is not an open project, the general feeling is that osm.org should not support it on the main site. Of course, webapp and app developers are free to implement it.

Thanks - I didn’t realise they could be searched.

A note for anyone techie enough to resolve the issue:

The wiki page with guidance on searching the email lists seems to have a rotted link for The Mail Archive:



Sorry I don’t have the skills to update it.

Yeah, what3words is pretty much directly opposed to OSM’s goal of making map data more openly accessible. Their business model comes down to creating a commercial monopoly on fundamental building blocks of digital maps. You cannot find out what these word combinations mean without accessing their proprietary database (with potential implications regarding privacy and censorship), and they’ve proven that they’re willing to take legal steps such as DMCA takedowns against open source developers who try to create free implementations their algorithm.

To add insult to injury, their software is ultimately trivial – building something like this would be little more than a fun weekend project for a solo programmer if it wasn’t for w3w’s lawyers trying to stop you from doing so.

Thanks for pointing this out!