Retaining New Users

Posted by Glassman on 12 December 2016 in English (English)

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?

  • Challenges
  • Suggestions of what to map
  • Survey for new users

Comment from Stereo on 12 December 2016 at 12:02

One of the challenges is very basic: finding them and reaching them. I’m using Pascal’s local changes feeds, and sending messages manually. What about you?

Comment from BushmanK on 12 December 2016 at 17:38

To discuss that in a reasonable manner, it is required to break down the structure of new users by their motivation and by demotivation factors, affecting each group. Ironically, for different groups, different demotivating factors could be opposite.

Like, there are initially strongly motivated people, "inclined to mapping" - they want to express themselves by joining the OSM project. We do have a whole bunch of such "lone wolfs" among the super-active users, who don't really participate in any social activities such as meetings or conversations. And many of them, likely, do not want to be bugged right away.

On the other hand, there are moderately motivated people who want to try something new and cool to entertain themselves. They need to be told what to do, but not in a restrictive manner. Very likely, they need more social interaction to keep their interest high, otherwise, everything becomes boring for them.

And there are, for sure, non-motivated people who just want to "add a couple of amenities", or those who have no idea what exactly they doing (adding personal points of interest such as "mom's house" to the publicly accessible map). Trying to tell them about the whole project or telling that they just did something wrong makes them wonder, "What the hell is that?" Sure, there is a tiny chance that among them, there is a person who actually belongs to the second group, but had no idea of OSM before, but it's really tiny one.

So, my idea of that problem is that "carpet bombing" doesn't make much sense anyway - only those from the second group can be effectively attracted. Now, question is, how to identify them. I think, that they should be interested in adding more stuff than just amenities and POIs as well as in editing (fixing data), not just adding new information. It doesn't mean that everyone who doesn't do that seems useless, but that's an indication that particular person wants to improve a map, which is exactly a goal of the whole project.

Another thing that should be kept in mind is that you can't force anyone to become an active mapper - you can only guide one or show more potentially interesting things to do. Otherwise, it looks like a behavior of a Middle-Eastern street merchant, who grabs any person passing by his stuff close enough and tries to annoyingly convince one to buy something.

Comment from make great hat on 13 December 2016 at 09:56

The site displayed by a great post about retaining new user.we have to get more and more informations as well the ideas. its good post.i really like the post.make Australia great again

Comment from Harry Wood on 18 December 2016 at 19:18


Comment from Glassman on 19 December 2016 at 01:15

Harry I trust you are refering to the post from make great hat.

Comment from Harry Wood on 19 December 2016 at 11:27

heh. Sorry yes. I suppose i might have been referring to your suggestions in the blog post, but no! I like your suggestions! There's just one spam comment above here (which will hopefully not remain here for too much longer)

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