Tracing OSM Users

Posted by PhysicsArmature on 23 March 2020 in English (English)

I have realized people map what is important to them in higher quantities than other things. Thus you find the areas they have mapped over the areas they don’t map. People map the areas the know more about than the areas they don’t, thus looking at edit clusters can show where people live. Finally the tag local knowledge as a source shows where someone has been. Combining these all together can be used to track people down.

Comment from Obum on 23 March 2020 at 07:15

very salient point. absolutely try in every word…

Comment from SimonPoole on 23 March 2020 at 08:28

The OSMFToU specifically disallow that, if you have concrete evidence of this happening, please contact us at

Comment from PhysicsArmature on 23 March 2020 at 08:40

No evidence, just preemptive worry.

Comment from philippec on 23 March 2020 at 09:22

It is better that people map the area they know. I have bad experiences with foreigners.

Comment from LCeT on 23 March 2020 at 21:42

Totally correct, and the nice thing is OSM doesn’t enforce a real-name policy and has a tolerance for multi-accounts:

Comment from PhysicsArmature on 24 March 2020 at 05:54

@LCeT, just me being great at worrying.

Comment from BCNorwich on 24 March 2020 at 14:54

I usually cut out the pieces of a GPS trace around my home before uploading it. Thus folk can only roughly know where I am which I don’t mind.

Comment from ᚛ᚏᚒᚐᚔᚏᚔᚋ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 24 March 2020 at 16:33

Geofabrik provides regional extracts of OSM data. If you aren’t logged into OSM, you can only get versions without metadata like usernames.

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