Not everybody cares, but we do. We care a lot.

Posted by CjMalone on 18 November 2023 in English (English). Last updated on 21 November 2023.

We care about having the best data. We care about having best the map. We care about having the best mapping community.

“We” is doing a lot here. Honestly, I don’t care about the render. Sure I’ve wanted some things rendered before, sure I’ve been emotional when it didn’t magically happen. But I’ve only though about rendering for a few minutes. People care a lot more then me, in retrospect, I’m sorry. I should have trusted you.

Honestly, I don’t care about the intricacies of tagging/”schemas”. Sure I’ve gotten emotional on the mailing list, and I’ve even talked about “you” (the list) behind your back. But you’ve thought about this more than me, I should have trusted you. Sorry.

I have thought a lot about the quality of our data, it’s not perfect. About the usability of our data, there are issues. About the accessibility of our data, it could easier. But actually we are doing pretty good. We are even doing better than the commercial datasets.

So trust the people that care the most, support us, encourage us, give us data and tooling, but most importantly, don’t get in our way. We’ve got this.

Comment from Dzertanoj on 18 November 2023 at 20:11

Well, “having the best data” and “not caring about the intricacies of tagging” are deeply contradictory things. You can’t have good data (that can be interpreted uniformly and non-ambiguously) without a good tagging scheme.

Comment from chris_debian on 18 November 2023 at 22:45


“We care about having the best data. We care about having the map. We care about having the best mapping community.”

I think all of these things are true, but the whole OSM initiative is reliant upon people who regularly, or perhaps only once, improve the accuracy of ‘our’ map.

I’m quick to recognise that my heart is in the right place, and if I make 80 edits/ improvements, I will probably make one or more mistakes. My view is that nobody is perfect, and in that example, me or someone like me will have improved the map, even if all 80 hypothetical edits weren’t perfect.

If I want to see a definitive map, I will use one of the proprietary online sources, or an OS map that hasn’t been updated for years.

If I want maps for routing, including brand new roads, OSM based tools are my ‘go to’.

Our community is very good at intentionally or unintentionally alienating contributors, and the recent ‘robust’ discussion about OSM’s Strategy, was an example of good and bad discussion.

I firmly believe that the community is doing the right thing, and for every ten steps forward, we may take one backwards. A bit like tagging, people can propose a tag, implement improvements to the tag, and then after discussion, realise that the tag isn’t ideal.

To use several clichéd phrases, let’s fail fast and learn and recover; and, let’s not let perfection get in the way of progress. When I edit our map, if I’m unsure, I always try to ‘measure twice, and cut once’. If I’m really not sure about an edit, I will either not proceed, or depending on my degree of certainty, I MAY make an edit, and ask for a ‘second pair of eyes’, to check my work.

Sadly, I think we do occasionally get vandals, but I think these are rare. Most of us are trying to do the right thing, and along with other great open source initiatives, such as Wikipedia and GNU/ Linux, the world is a much richer place for these initiatives. The data or the source code will never be perfect, but that’s why we have bug reporting, mailing lists and a diverse (hopefully increasingly so) community.

Licensing permitting, we can iterate/ evolve with partners like TomTom, and by using the many different OSM data quality tools. We have a lot to be proud of.

Let’s remember that the map will never be finished, and to always treat the community with respect.

Thanks for your diary entry, CJ.

Chris chris_debian

Comment from philippec on 20 November 2023 at 23:13

I maintain 3000 single point POIs. Yet everybody seems to know better how to do it. I have never met someone who maintains 1000 POIs.

Comment from CjMalone on 21 November 2023 at 09:39

I make mistakes, everyone does. I should be better at admitting it.

But as you said with clichés, the data gets better with time, even if there are mistakes along the way.

Comment from arnalielsewhere on 29 November 2023 at 02:25

Thank you for caring and for your contributions, CJ!

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