OpenStreetMap

Local Chapters websites - and lessons learned from them

Posted by LCCWG on 8 August 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 19 October 2020.

With the Local Chapters & Communities Working group (part of the OSMF), we did a quick review of the websites of all the official Local Chapters. This is quite interesting, as these sites all have basically the same mission - and still are hugely diverse.

Ireland website

All of these website focus on helping mappers find the community and/or to help outsiders understand what OSM is all about. Maybe surprisingly, none of these websites are map-centered. On some of them, it’s hard or even impossible to find an interactive map. There’s several creative attempts to build the content around a map - especially the Czech website is quite succesful at that.

Czech website

When it comes to communications, some focus on questions from outsiders with topical or single-point-of-contact style e-mail addresses. Others orient people towards one or many internal community channels. And a few do both.

The wide diversity shows that there are many ways to tell the OSM story. But in all, there is a striking difference to the very “technical” looking OSMF website and the very “mappy” website at OpenStreetMap.org. In fact, the Welcome Mat looks more similar to the Local Chapter’s websites then either landing page.

The Local Chapters websites offer several ideas that could be used to make a more inviting OpenStreetMap.org. Switching OSM.org to a logic like these pages, can be technically straightforward if we simply put the current website at www.osm.org/map. The OSM.org page could then become the glue that binds “core” infrastructure, even if it doesn’t belong to OSMF. The OSM.org subdomains could more prominently show some tools and projects, which are ever so hard for newbies to find. For example, it could have a query.osm.org subdomain where you can use Overpass-turbo. This could look like the current welcome.osm.org or the current wiki.osm.org.

The LCCWG survey of local groups, shows that many local groups expect the global OSM community to do more to direct people to them. Two thirds of all groups surveyed wanted the global site to show their existence more prominently.

All the while, we should be working on the technical backlog of osm.org as well! Andy has been doing a tremendous job on that. But we need so much more work done. The LCCWG is incredibly appreciative of individual volunteers, however we feel that there is a need to move towards getting paid help where appropriate. This includes working on the technical debt to make it easier to start contributing, and delevoping new community focused functionality. A new drive in the CWG could also be instrumental in rethinking our landing pages.


Most of this text was used for the LCCWG presentation at the 2020 State of the Map, where we talked about several of our projects. The LCCWG is always looking for more help - join our chat, our mailing list or our next meeting. The text was written by Joost, with help of Rob and the rest of the LCCWG

For more details about our websites review and the rest of our to-do, check out our Gitlab issues.

Comment from jimkats on 8 August 2020 at 16:11

It’s interesting that in few cases, countries may appear to have more than one local chapter.

I also understand that time by time local communities change in such a way they may not be as organized as before or the opposite. Meaning that what we see currently as active local chapter, we may not view it the same in few years.


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