It's now been around 2 years since I started editing OSM seriously. I've used Pascal's HDYC and YOSMHM to track my progress, with the goal of making a real contribution to OSM worldwide. One thing I always wondered about, as my OSM node rank went up. It would reach, for example, 300, and I would think, wow, I have been editing so much... who are these 299 people around the world who actually edit even more??
Recently, I set out to answer this question. I started looking at HDYC for well-known accounts, as well as their heatmaps, and gathering the results in a spreadsheet. When that got tedious, I wrote a C++ app on Osmium and ran it on the Planet.osm file, to find out the complete list of top-ranked accounts.
And the answer is... most of them are not actually people; a few are bots, and many are "import accounts", or user accounts that have been used for a large import at some point. (...but not all of them! Some are actual, live humans manually editing OSM longer and more extensively than me). Along the way, I learned some OSM history, and the diverse patterns in OSM in different countries.
Here is a link to the spreadsheet, sortable by rank, with my own notes on the where/what of around 400 accounts, including the top 100 in node and way ranks. The data is approximate... it's not auto-refreshed by a script (yet), so some ranks may be a little out of date.
In my next diary entry I'll share some of the stories and realizations I've had while gathering this data.