OpenStreetMap

The Notes feature, please read first before making a note

Posted by emj on 10 August 2014 in English (English)

Opinions differ on how the Notes feature on osm.org should be used. This is something for people how care about the notes feature and are thinking about using it. As an individual mapper I have a clear view on what kind of notes are helpful. Here are some guidelines

Your note should

  1. be hand made notes by a user, that means not done automatically in any way.
  2. be verbose at least more than 3 words, probably more.
  3. contain an specific mappable fact, for example a new name.
  4. contain the app you are using when the error ocurred, preferrably

Things you should keep in mind:

  • do not: use a template to write multiple notes. See rule 1
  • do not: use notes as your own notepad while mapping, unless you expect someone else to fix it.
  • do not use a script. See rule 1
  • do not write: "this area should be mapped better". See rule 3

Notes that are ok, but could be edge cases in the rules above

  • "two unmapped roads here"
  • "this area is in development, lots of new houses"

Notes that are really bad:

  • "hjasgdkhagsd"
  • "This area needs more details"
  • "I was routed left here it should have been right"
  • "the told me the speed limit was X but it was really Y"

Really all notes about routing apps are useless, they are too specific to the app to beable to verify.

Further more it would be nice if people were required to be contactable when leaving notes, but I guess I wouldn't want that either as an anon. And I really want to thank everyone involved in the notes feature.

Comment from DaCor on 10 August 2014 at 10:18

"Notes" by their very definition are informal things so applying rules around them would possibly lead to less usage

Also, I don't see any issue in non-user created notes, for example see @osmthis twitter account. Tweet a geotagged photo to that account and it creates a note with a link to the photo

However, I do agree there are a lot of useless notes out there.

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Comment from emj on 10 August 2014 at 15:15

@osmthis as described here is actually no anonymous but a good example of rule 3, "a not should be specific mappable fact"(which I guess I should change to rule 1).

The same would be nice to have on facebook etc.

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Comment from RobJN on 10 August 2014 at 15:18

@osmthis is just another way off creating a note. It could represent a mappable fact.

I think one issue with notes is that people don't realise they can move the marker to a specific location. The interface could be improved to allow people to draw lines/shapes. Something similar to http://geojson.io would be good.

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Comment from AndiG88 on 10 August 2014 at 16:14

Your note should ... be hand made notes by a user, that means not done automatically in any way.

I would actually like to have a tool for that. For example when cleaning up vending machines I had like 200x vending=photos tags and the tag was not defined. I figued out that it would often stand for amenity=photo_booth, but not always. Would have been nice to set a note on every node and ask people to use amenity=photo_booth if that was what it was or maybe find a more descriptive tag if it was something different like a printer. Luckily it was mostly used in Germany and with name, operator and note tags I was often able to figure it out, but it still took me a lot of time and I was only able to fix half of them. Someone who knows the area would have had it a lot easier and could fix more.

There are a lot of other tags where this needs to be done (see my last diary entry) where I alone simply don't have the time and/or knowledge. It would also solve the issue many have currenly that it may encourage mechanical edits.

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Comment from flohoff on 10 August 2014 at 19:29

I certainly disagree with this:

"do not: use notes as your own notepad while mapping, unless you expect someone else to fix it."

As long as those notes are verbose enough for others to be useful to add or correct data its nothing wrong with using notes for missing/wrong informations in the map.

Verbosity is a key issue. Be shure to build enough context to be useful for others.

Completely missing is the context when closing a note. Closing a note without a message is a complete nogo. I am always tempted to reopen the note with no message when somebody closes the note with no message. When you fixed something - write it in the close message.

Flo

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Comment from emj on 10 August 2014 at 22:22

@RobJN Maybe free hand drawing would be useful.

@AndiG88 As long as you don't put them in the Notes interface. But Sure it could be put in somekind of maproulette stile. There are lots of efforts in doing tasks like that for OSM. None are perfect I guess.

@flohoff It's not very usefull to find notes in German on your hometown which will be corrected in a day or two with a complete remap of an area.

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Comment from JBacc1 on 11 August 2014 at 14:04

I would like it that way… but not everyone seems to agree with most of it. And for: "However, I do agree there are a lot of useless notes out there", my question would be: "yes, what do we do with them? Let them grow old and dusty.

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