᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈's diary

Recent diary entries

OSMF board election results

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 22 December 2019 in English (English)

Well the 2019 OSMF AGM & board election is over and I was elected! Thank you all who voted for me! The election system was a PR/STV system, so the full rank of preferences were relevant (check out the results).

I’m only now getting set up with all the accounts. The first board meeting of this board will be tomorrow, Mon 23 Dec 2019 18:00Z, as always you are all welcome to listen in. For lots of us the Christmas holiday season is starting, so many of us (incl. me) won’t be doing much until after that (~6th Jan 2020).

previously: I’m running for the board, Manifesto, feedback²

My video conference, Ask Me (almost) Anything, Get to know your candidate ("office hours")

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 8 December 2019 in English (English)

I like the idea of a video chat/conference where you can ask/talk to a candidate (aka “office hours”). I’ll offer that too. Any OSMF member can open up the video chat, and we can have a talk, you can ask me things, or whatever (watch me map buildings if you want). I’ll do 2 slots, 1 hour each, to try to cover time zones. Video or just audio should be possible.

Tuesday 10 Decemeber 19:00 UTC (8pm for me) (i.e. starting as soon as Michal’s office hours #5 ends) for 1 hour. What time that is for you

And the following morning, Wed 11 December 07:00 UTC (8am for me) for 1 hour. What time that is for you

I will use Jitsi Meet hosted by Framatalk, where is Free Software. ☺ Test your browser

I will update this wiki page with the link to the chat just before each event starts. I’ll leave a comment on this blog post, which you can subscribe to.

See you on the intertubes.

feedback² - Response to the responses

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 8 December 2019 in English (English)

As part of the 2019 OSMF Board Election, I wrote my answers to the official questions, and published a manifesto. When one writes something, one can’t be sure that others have heard what you want to say. When someone explains what they think, it tells you a little of how well you communicated. So I’m writing my response to some responses to what I already wrote. ☺️

My friend Christoph Horman an wrote his opinion on us candidates:

gender pronouns – almost everyone expresses their support for this without critical thoughts and this is once again fairly disappointing.

If you wanna talk about LGBTQ issue, I can talk your ear off. 😉 I’ll have a good faith conversation with any OSMer about this.

At least a hint of reflection on the fact that in a multilingual and multicultural community like OSM thinking about use of English language pronouns is a bit besides the point when it comes to OSMF politics. Allan is the only candidate who shows to understand this.

The entire election is happening in English, so my answer was all in English (yes this is not ideal). I’m aware of other languages. In English, my pronouns are “they”, aber auf deutsch benutze ich „er“. Perhaps I should have said that.

Rory: Some reflection about possible CoI cases but ultimately rejection of the possibility

I’m a little surprised at that. If I was elected, there are decisions which I would have a conflict of interest due to my job. I don’t think the person alone should always be allowed to claim “Nope I have no CoI, let me vote!”. I think there are times when the Foundation/Board must not allow someone to participate in a vote, despite the person claiming no CoI. Otherwise what could you do with bad faith actors? OSMF needs stronger CoI rules. The fundamental idea behind a “conflict of interest” is that the person is not 100% capable of thinking of the Foundation’s interests.

The rest [which includes me] mostly suggest asking nicely but not do anything of substance when corporations ignore that (which is kind of pointless IMO).

My answer to the question about attribution included: ““Speak softly and carry a big stick” is a useful adage”, and that “The Foundation does have a duty to protect the project’s IP”. Perhaps that was too circumspect. I do not favor doing nothing. The Foundation has a legal & moral obligation to the OSM project & OSM contributors use tools at it’s disposal (incl. legal means) to ensure the OSM licence is followed by all.

Westnordost has written a shorter cheatsheet, with a good summary, listing my Hot Topics as just “gender and diversity”. I want to also supporting hobby/craft mappers. Perhaps I’m not communicating that well!

Michael Reichart, a co-worker & friend, has written (in German) part 1 of his analysis of candidates, which doesn’t include me, so nothing for me to say.

To make public my manifesto

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 3 December 2019 in English (English)

I mentioned my candidacy for the OSMF Board, and as part of the election process, the community suggested questions, and long time OSMer Mike Collinson collated & edited them down.

The answers to the official list of questions has been published! Read here → Answers and Manifestos to the OSMF 2019 AGM

My answers to the questions will have more detail. My manifesto (also on the wiki page) is here. If you have any questions ask away on the comments (or email me privately)

“Steady as she goes, let’s change everything” – My campaign motto

Hello all. I’m Rory McCann ( ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on osm )

I’m originally from Dublin, Ireland, but live in Karlsruhe, Germany and work in Geofabrik GmbH. I’m a craft mapper and social justice hacker, and I’d like you to vote #1 for me to be your board member.

I’m a craft mapper. OSM is great when it’s a project of people to map their world, when ordinary people feel empowered to collect information about areas or topics that matter to them, when they feel empowered to use that information to make things, to have fun, or to make the world a better place. (People have this power and ability, they might not know it yet) I am a skeptical when giant global corporations starts acting friendly and offers “help”. They’re not doing it out of their kindness of their hearts! But a passionate OSMer I can trust!

I’m a hacker. I like Free Software/Open Source, and in an ideal world everything should be FLOSS. But I’m practical and do use propritary software when there are benefits. OSM should strive to support free software. I’m wary of heirachies. OSM & OSMF is better when it’s passionate people, rather than dozens of paid employees who are just punching a clock and an elite execute/management/leadership “team” who can talk the talk.

Many would call me a social justice warrior (in a derogatory stance), but fuck it, I’ll take it. I admin the diversity-talk@ mailing list, I think OSM needs more Codes of Coduct (although which CoC is a big topic I can write/rant about). I think OSM is missing people. There aren’t enough mappers from marginalized communities, they either don’t know about us, or think they wouldn’t be welcome. I think we’re missing people from the Global South, women, older people, working class people etc etc. The OSM community must try to change that. We must not have bigotry in our community, and we should increase representation by raising up other voices. People from marginalized communities are the greated untapped resource for more OSM hobby mappers!

Although I have some strong opinions on things, I’d like to think I’m relatively practical, and willing to compromise. You often have to balance the ends and the means. Not all hills are worth dying on.

I’d like to be your board member because I think we have a need for the hobbyist mappers to be represented, many of them are cis het dudes, so there’s a need for someone who hopefully understands what we mean by “diversity”. And I think we should remember there’s things more important than shareholder value, and not everything should be about profit.

Please read the my answers to the questions to find out more detail. Please vote #1 for me. Please keep mapping.

I'm running for the OSM Foundation board

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 22 November 2019 in English (English)

For those who haven’t been keeping track of the OpenStreetMap Foundation, there will be an election to the Board of Directors on 14 December, and I have decided to put myself forward as a candidate. ☺ There are 7 candidates in total for 4 seats. I am currently finalizing writing my manifesto, and writing up answers to the official list of questions. Stay tuned!

OSM + Pride Colours 🏳️‍🌈 ready to give out at SotM!

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 19 September 2019 in English (English)

I have printed out the OSM rainbow coloured logos from my last post.

I’ll be at State of the Map in Heidelberg, so if you want some to bring back to your local community, please let me know. I’ll be at any of the diversity talks at a minimum (e.g.). I have loads (each pile is ~50 stickers)

OSM rainbow coloured stickers

OSM + Pride Colours 🏳️‍🌈 | Want some stickers?

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 2 September 2019 in English (English)

I have made some LGBTQ/rainbow pride versions of the OSM Logo:

rainbow flags What I’ve done is CC BY-SA 4.0, but the OSMF Trademark Policy probably means that doesn’t apply. view all here

I have it all in a github repository, please feel free to download, share, remix, make suggestions, print yourself, etc.

I plan to print some of the these out as 5.2cm× 5.2cm stickers and bring them to State of the Map in Heidelberg. Would you like some? Would you like a specific one? I was only going to print one or two designs. Leave a comment here, or OSM message me, or email me to request a specific set, and how many.

Chaos Communications Camp 2019?

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 18 August 2019 in English (English)

Is anyone else going to the Chaos Communications Camp next week? Does anyone know what, if any, OSM stuff will be going on. I’ll be there, but I’ve been very bad with research!

If you wanna meet up, gimmie a shout. 🙂

How should we tag LGBTQ venues?

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 26 October 2018 in English (English)

I’m thinking about how best to tag LGBTQ venues, (e.g. “gay bars”). And I’m not sure how to do it. I’ve started a thread on the tagging@ & diversity-talk@ lists.

Initially I thought lgbtq=yes was a good tag, but now I’m not sure. Does anyone have any advice for a way to tag them in keeping with the OSM tagging conventions?

I’m thnking lgbtq=primary is a good idea. So a LGBTQ bar/”gay bar” would be amenity=bar,lgbtq=primary. Announcing a new Mastodon instance for OSM (en)

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 5 July 2018 in English (English)

I’ve set up a Mastodon instance for OSM (english speaking)! - OpenStreetMap Mastodon

Mastodon is an open source, federated micro-blogging system, with more than a million users. Basically open source twitter, spread across many servers. This is a new instance/server focused on OpenStreetMap (there’s already for francophone OSMers). Like email, this server (“instance”) talks to other servers, so anyone on the “fediverse” can follow and interact with anyone on this server & vice versa. The “local timeline” will only show toots (= tweets) from everyone on the server, so will be full of OSM related stuff.

Let’s ditch twitter for something open, and under our control! No adverts, no analytics, no “algorithmic” promoted tweets. 500 characters! Let’s use mapstodon instead!

I’m mirroring some twitter accounts to it. I can turn them over the appropriate people, or continue to auto post from twitter. I’ll create more mirror accounts later.

More on Mastodon:

Follow me on mapstadon:

Quarterly project for traditionally under-mapped things

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 17 April 2018 in English (English)

Over on the diversity-talk mailing list I’m floating the idea of a quarterly project to map traditionally under-represented things. There’s been lots of legit talk lately about what is and isn’t mapped in OSM, so let’s try to map it. I’ve set up a poll to gather ideas and select something. If you’re interested in helping with this, feel free to vote, take part, and/or join the mailing list.

Don't be a square: JOSM wants me to only have round buildings

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 16 April 2018 in English (English)

Well this is an interesting JOSM issue. Whenever I try to use the building tool to draw a building, it goes circular! (Update 17 March: This is a feature, which you can toggle, see comments below)

Bad building

This happens only on one of my machines. On another, it works fine. I suppose I should nuke my JOSM settings and start afresh.

clacks_overhead=GNU Terry Pratchett: Remembering Terry Pratchett in the OSM metadata

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 21 October 2017 in English (English)

Terry Pratchett was a comedy fantasy author from Britain (which is an island of the coast of France). He is best known for the Discworld series of books (41 in all). He died in 2015, and as a tribute, fans around the world changed their servers to emit a hidden code with his name, taking cue from one of his books.

I wanted to do this in OpenStreetMap. We don’t want to change the OSM data, but the changeset tags are the secret metadata of OSM. In keeping with OSM convention of new tags, I’m choosing clacks_overhead=GNU Terry Pratchett. If you add that tag to your changesets, you can keep pTerry alive in the OSM metadata.

I’ve created a JOSM plugin (pTerry) to do this automatically. If you have a recent version of JOSM (v13028 or above, released today). For now, just download pTerry.jar and save it to ~/.josm/plugins/. I’ll put it on the JOSM plugins list in a bit when I know it’s OK.

A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.

KeepRight is still around!

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 2 June 2017 in English (English)

KeepRight is a data consistance and quality assurance tool for OSM. It’s been around for years and years (since at least 2009). I used it ages ago and forgot about it. But it’s still around, still updating, still checking OSM. Some of the checks don’t make sense everywhere, so use your head and mark things as false positives if needed. If you’re looking for some mapping & gardening, open it up, have a look at an area and fix up the map.

Work on some notes!

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 27 May 2017 in English (English)

OpenStreetMap allows people to add notes to the map, people can comment and mark a problem as resolved. This is an easy way for mappers to talk to each other (“Is this mapped right?” “Yes I was there the other month, the aerial imgaery is old” “OK So”), and is an easy way for non-OSM people to provide simple feedback without needing to log in, and (importantly) not break the map if they don’t know what they are doing. Experienced mappers can use them to highlight areas or issues they think should be addressed.

There are now more than 1,000,000 notes in OSM. There was some discussion on the OSM main mailing list about this. Some people don’t like how easy it is for some apps ( to add notes, and complain about the amount of useless notes. Yes, a high signal to noise ratio can make things hard. However OSM is open and a wiki map. There shouldn’t be barriers and gatekeepers. If you want only “approved” people to be able to add data to your map, go play with Google Map Maker.

The concern about signal to noise ratios is valid. There are a lot of notes now. About 250,000 open notes. (check on pascal neis’ notes page).

So I’m going to make an effort to look at notes and try to fix up problems. Some cannot be solved from the armchair, but there are lots of new users leaving notes that can be closed, or which describe things which have since been mapped. And some are things you could map. I’m going to work my way through some of the notes in Ireland.

If we all take a few minutes each day to look at notes that people are submitting, we’ll keep the map updated and fixed up.

Simple gardening/QA workflow: Improve old ways

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 19 March 2017 in English (English)

OSM can never be finished, we just keep improving the map. Our tools and sources get better. We can get better aerial imagery, and this means older data can be a little fuzzy. There’s a simple way to improve OSM by looking at old data and seeing if you can improve it.

First enable the TODO list plugin if you haven’t already (seriously, it’s a great plugin), and enable that window on the right hand side. Then download a large area. The JOSM Continuous Downloader plugin can help here. The we can use JOSM’s search functionality to find old data. Let’s try to fix up ways which haven’t been changed since 2010. Press Control-F to bring up the search box. Then enter timestamp:/2010 type:way, and press enter. All old ways will be selected. Press the Add button to these to the TODO list. Double click on the first entry to start working on it. Compare it to the aerial imagery, and fix up it’s geometry if needed. JOSM’s improve way geometry feature (press W) can make this easier. When you’ve finished with this way, press ] to go to the next object. Keep going as long as you want. Upload as often as you want.

With regular “gardening” tasks, OSM will be gradually improved and made better.

Newcomers are welcome, even Pokemon Go mappers

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 29 January 2017 in English (English)

Recently some players of Pokemon Go think that OpenStreetMap data is being used as data in the game, and by editing OSM they can force new things to appear in the game.

Some people don’t like this swarm of newcomers, and rightly point out the bad, incorrect data that people are adding. Sometimes these newcomers are using Google Maps without a full understanding of what copyright is, and why that’s not allowed in OSM.

I’m skeptical that Niantic are actually using OSM data this way. They may be using a static dump, but it’s pretty rare for external, non-OpenStreetMap, companies to have a continuously updated database from OSM.

New users are always welcome, and if they are adding correct things, then I welcome them. It’s always good to have new mappers, adding things for an area they are in. Pokemon Go is a game you play by going outside and walking around, so these people are adding data to their neighbourhood, which can often be better than remote mappers with no idea of the local area.

Don't just do a mechanical edit, look at the area and look for other mistakes!

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 8 January 2017 in English (English)

I am using Osmose to find and fix polygon errors in Ireland. I fixed a problem in a golf course in Youghal, Co. Cork. I could have stopped there, and moved on, however the JOSM validator found some errors, so I kept working on that little area. This led me to spot some not great mapping around a school. Some houses tagged with name=Residential Dwelling, that kind of thing. I cleaned up the area. Removed unneeded name tags, fixed tagging of roads etc. I found the mapper, and changeset where this was added, and was able to leave a changeset comment on it. I’m not the first to notice, but maybe this mapper might return to OSM.

So I feel like I have improved the map in this area. I would not have known to look there if I hadn’t use a QA tool like Osmose, or the JOSM Validator. However if I was just looking at closed polygons, then I would have stopped as soon as I fixed that polygon, and moved on.

At State of the Map 2016, Frederik Ramm talked about Mechanical Edits, and one problem he finds with mechanical edits is that sometimes people just mechanically and automatically fix the problem that the QA tool has found, rather than looking at the area, or other contributions from the same mapper, and try to fix the larger problem, and fix other problems. There is often talk about more automatic and manual imports, with some suggesting that humans are expensive, let’s not use them too often. But you need to have humans there, to find and recognise other mistakes which the tool can miss, as my example shows.

Using Osmose to fix admin boundary errors

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 18 December 2016 in English (English)

Over the past few days I have been using Osmose (docs) to find errors in administrative polygons in Ireland. OpenStreetMap does not have a native area type, so we have to create type=boundary relations. It’s easy to break these areas, which means software which wants to extract boundary data from OSM is unable to “see” these areas.

As someone who consumes OSM data for administrative boundaries ( for townlands in Ireland), I have a certain affinity for admin boundaries in OSM in Ireland, and would like to be as good as possible, and that’s possible if the OSM data is the best possible.

I’ve been turning off all checks in Osmose and enabling just the open polygon error. Click on each blue marker to open the popup with details. Then click the “josm” link for the relation with the problem, which will load that relation in JOSM using JOSM’s remote control. The JOSM validator will then tell you where the open polygon is. You should then look at the problem and see what’s wrong and how to fix it. The most common error is a small gap, and there’s a missing way that you need to (re-)add to the relation. However I have seen more complicated errors sometimes.

Osmose will update regularly, but it can take a day before it’s updated, so the “polygon error” will still be on the website. You can click on the “corrected” link in the popup to tell Osmose that this problem has been fixed. The popup & marker will then disappear from the map (for everyone). You can then clear the errors and work on the next problem. Sometimes I’ve seen many copies of the same error on top of each other, so if you click “corrected” and it looks like the popup & marker don’t disappear, it probably did get recorded as corrected, it’s just that there’s an identical error in the same place which you’re seeing. Just click “corrected” on all of them until it goes away. supports historic names

Posted by ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 17 December 2016 in English (English) now displays the historic name of areas! is a website which shows the Irish traditional boundaries in OpenStreetMap, like townlands, civil parishes, baronies and counties. It’s very useful for Irish genealogical research, and mainting Ireland’s heritage into the digital era.

An example of this is County Offaly, which was initially created as a county in 1556 as “King’s County”, and was known as that until Irish independence in 1922, when it was changed to County Offaly. Neighbouring Co. Laois was known as “Queen’s County”.

We use the date namespace suffix to support this. The current OSM relation for Co. Offaly shows how to add this data: name:1556--1922=King's County, name:1922--=County Offaly currently supports the following 3 forms. Other options may be added later.

  • name:--YEAR: Name before YEAR
  • name:YEAR--: Name from YEAR to the present
  • name:YEAR1--YEAR2: Name between the years YEAR1 and YEAR2

There is already support for adding the name Griffith’s Valuation (with name:griffithsvaluation tag), and the 1901 and 1911 census names (name:census1901 and name:census1911). However that is often used for transcription errors.

Please add more historic names to OSM in Ireland!