Recent diary entries
This is the second annual results report on welcoming new mappers. 2016 saw a large increase in new mappers in Washington State over 2015. Also a record number, 403, welcome messages sent. Last year I reported sending 106 messages with a 9% response rate. This year the response rate was 7.4% which I partially attribute to the larger sample size and to the increase in MAPS.ME users who seem to never respond.
Recently I starting using Toby Murry's ChangesetMD tool to help identify new users. While I'm still using the IRC-Bot to identify new users, I expect to switch over to using minutely changesets with Toby's ChangesetMD tool.
Using the new tool I was able to start capturing some new data.
- Total new users in Washington State = 562
- Welcome Messages Set = 403
- Responses received = 30
- Response rate = 7.4%
- Percent of new users getting a Welcome Message = 72%
- Total number of changesets by new users = 14,119
- iD 474
- MAPS.ME 53
- Potlatch 18
- JOSM 5
- Go Map!! 4
- OsmAnd 4
- Rosemary 2
- Gnome Maps 1
- Vespucci 1
Some interesting statistics
- Average number of edits by users that received a Welcome Message = 29.0
- Average span  of days editing by users that received a message = 17.4
- Average number of edits by users that did not receive a Welcome Message = 15.2
- Average span  of days editing by users that did not get a message = 13.6
The numbers are encouraging me to continue to send Welcome Messages to new users. I plan to add a section with suggestions of what to edit. Cities like Seattle have quite a few features already mapped which might discouraged new users. Conversely, rural cities are pretty barren which can be just as discouraging.
Check out my current process on GitHub which includes my updated Welcome Message which includes a link to tips for Pokemon Go users.
 span = the number of days between first edit and last edit.
This is a blog post on my efforts to connect with new users. OpenStreetMap adds new users at a surprising rapid rate. If only they would stick around. So what can we do to increase their longevity? Not have extra money, bribes are out. So is swag, not that I have any of that either.
Right now I'm giving new users thumbnail information on OSM and inviting them to join an OSM Meetup group. After the new year when I'll pull together some statistics to see if information alone is useful or if I should try another approach.
What else can I try?
- Suggestions of what to map
- Survey for new users
One of my goals is to increase the number of mappers in Washington State by contacting them after their first edit with suggestions to help them get involved. My message was taken from the Brussels community. I can't say it helps keep people mapping but it certainly doesn't hurt. At least no one has asked me not to send them messages. (Most just ignore me.)
Because my process is manual, I look at every first edit and fix many of them. Those first edits often have common quality errors. I don't believe they are from bad users, but from a process that could use improvement. We could insist that new users complete a course before they are allowed to edit. But that isn't going to get us new mappers. Having existing mappers validate new users edits takes time away from their normal mapping.
When I do fix an edit, I include the change in the Welcome message. Occasionally I'll leave a changeset message when I'm not sure what they were intending. Originally I was leaving a message and not fixing them, but after realizing that many didn't go back to fix the problem I just started to do it myself.
I tried to look at this from a quality improvement perspective. First collect data then define the problem and finally look at solutions. My new mapper process has been running for over a year. While I haven't done a proper job of documenting errors, something I'd like to do, some just keep reoccurring. Today I'm just focusing one one.
New users edits do not include the lack of a tag to describe the business. For example, someone added an insurance office. The tag included the name, address, and phone number. Occasionally they will add a tag keyword to indicate what the business does. But no office=insurance. To the editor, this looks a good edit.
The developers did fix the problem of tags with just name=. It now notifies the user that they need to enter more information. We now need to take this to the next level.
Below are two possible solutions. The solutions are for iD since that is the editor most new users use.
- If the object is an area, provide two name fields, a building name and a business name. The text field should have appropriate tools tips to help the user select the right box for the name. If the business name is populated, then the user should be prompted to add an appropriate tag to the feature (besides the address.) Address point objects should not have a name field. Name fields should be only be provided with objects that have names such as businesses, places, etc.
- osnosm.org is a website to add businesses to OSM. The process doesn't actually add businesses to OSM but leaves a note for a mapper to add the business. The code is on github. I'd like to see the user interface enhanced to help select the correct tags for the business with a version of iD to have the user actually add the business. To move the website out of obscurity, include add business under the edit menu on the main website.
How you can help
- Look at new editors in your area. Determine the common errors in their edits.
- Is the problem correctly stated?
- What other improvements to the process would help?
- Are you or your company willing to fund development to improve the process?
- What would be a good tool to capture new edit quality errors?
I've been sending message to new users that are in our meetup area, inviting them to join our meetup. I also offer to answer any OSM questions they have. Since Jan 2015 I've sent 106 messages. From the new users, I've received responses from 10 new mappers. That's a 9% response rate.
Not sure why the response rate is so low. A couple of possibilities come to mind. First, I don't ask for a response. While I do invite them to join our Meetup Group, it is impossible to find a match between OSM user_id and Meetup nickname. Some could have responded by joining the meetup group. The other possibility is that I need a better welcome message. There is a third possibility but for now I'm not going there.
Work in progresssss
The OSM Welcome message could use some changes to see if we can encourage more participation from new subscribers. The current signon process is quick and easy. (At least if you don't read all the legalese in the Agreement.) My goal is to build a welcome message that encourages more participation and mapping. I invite everyone to share their thoughts on what should and shouldn't be in the message.
Listed below, in no particular order, are some of my thoughts
- OSM Philosophy
- Code of Conduct
- Invitation to join the OSMF and local chapter
- How and why to donate to OSM
- Where to meet other mappers
- A link to HOT's LearnOSM.
If you'd like to help, just drop me a line.
If it has been a while since you signed up for the first time, below is the current process as done on a desktop computer. Not sure what it looks like on a mobile device. The last screenshoot is the welcome message. What is your opinion; can it be improved?
Initial Sign up
Full text of the agreement is here.
Completed merging Seattle building outlines with King County E911 addresses. The result is 3 merged .som files for each neighborhood. The original Seattle building outline file contains outlines outside of Seattle that still need merging.
14 people showed up to learn how to use JOSM to import addresses into OSM. The training ran from 1PM until 4:30 when most everyone adjourned to the pub up the street.
I was on the way to a meeting downtown taking my usual route. Entering the downtown area my normal route was now one way, going the wrong direction. On the way back I discovered that the street was just converted. Workers were in the process of redoing the signal lights. The lanes had already been repainted.
I made the change to OSM. Certainly faster than any of the commercial maps. However, the street has an entrance to I5 express lanes. These are time dependent. In the morning they lead into the city and out in the afternoon. But I can't find anything on the wiki that tells me how to show the TOD direction.
Since I'm new I'll ask on the newbie mailing list.