This is part two which highlights the results of the OSM user survey. Read part 1 about demographics and identity here

Which thematic maps do people use?

56 people gave insight in their favourite maps, yielding a total of 86 mentions of specific map themes or groups of themes.

The theme with the most mentions -namely 9- was the etymology theme. This is not a big surprise, as there has been a tremendous amount of changes made with Open Etymology-map. Some people mention curiosity for their local environment, others are interested in the link between OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia. It should be noted that nearly everyone who mentioned etymology indicates that they have hundreds of edits.

The second place goes to the waste theme with 8 mentions. I have to be honest, this came as a total surprise to me! At first sight, it is a bit of a boring topic - especially when contrasted with something like etymology. Yet, everyone needs to get rid of some waste every now and then. By the way, this theme was created by @Rlin and I have to admit that this is one of the most polished themes on MapComplete, using a lot of the available functionality. Thank you!

The third places goes to all cycling-related themes (7 mentions of ‘cycling’). Cyclofix had another 5 mentions, resulting in 12 total mentions. This was no surprise either, as cyclofix has been historic driver of many changes made with MapComplete. It is one of the oldest maps on MapComplete, yet it is still popular and is embedded on a few websites.

The third place goes to benches with 7 mentions - another very down-to-earth topic but with lots of value and lots of unmapped features.

Out of the other answers, it is clear that there are various reasons to use MapComplete:

  • For practical, day-to-day reasons, such as searching for information about POI (e.g. waste, benches, restaurants, pubs, toilets), commuting (cycling, charging stations) or a professional interest
  • Because it helps them with their hobby, especially outdoor-hobbies such as recreational cycling, climbing
  • Out of personal curiosity or wonder in the world (etymology and artwork)
  • They add data because they want to help other people (benches, AED, hydrants, drinking water, toilets, wheelchair, osm-for-the-blind, adding pictures) - which sometimes even touches upon activism (one person mentioned that Speed limits map helped me to discuss about mobility with my municipality.)

A full table of total mentions can be found below

Map Total
etymology 9
waste 8
Anything cycling-related 7
benches 7
cyclofix 5
wheelchair and blind_osm 5
charging_stations 4
aed 3
trees 3
hydrants 3
drinking_water 3
artwork 3
notes 2
shops 2
restaurants 2
healthcare 2
bookcases 2
toilets 2
ghost_bike 2
street_lamps 2
personal 1
pubs 1
nature 1
Fritures 1
climbing 1
pinjepunt 1
speed 1
surveillance 1
pets 1

What do people still want?

I did ask several open-ended question to gauge interests and for bugs, namely:

  • If you could wish for a map-based application, what would this application do?
  • What features would you like to see in MapComplete?

Question: If you could wish for a map-based application, what would this application do?

This open-ended question came quite early in the survey - even before mentioning MapComplete. This is an intentionally broad question, in order to generate as much ideas as possible and to get a feel of what people’s general grievances are.

56 people gave a very extensive answer to this question, but as answers touch upon different topics, it’s very hard to categorize them.

However, there were a few recurrent themes:

  • OpenStreetMap got often compared to Google Maps. Some liked the convenience of that mapping platforms, where others openly wished for open/libre/privacy-respecting alternatives for Google Maps
  • Search was another common grievance
  • Routing was mentioned often as well. Quite a few mappers want a routing engine, taking them to places that need to be updated in OSM or Mapillary; others have specific needs (such as car-free, indoor routing, with live data or offline)
  • At last, some people would love to see features from some app to appear in some other app as well.

Question: What features would you like to see in MapComplete?

Another open-ended question where people can report bugs and feature requests.

The most popular request is to be able to build MapComplete-map easily, with 7 such requests in 59 answers. Good news: part of the NL-Net grant is building a new Custom-theme-builder!

Furthermore, an offline mode was a popular request with 5 mentions. Similarly, 3 people asked for an installable app. Good news for them too: MapComplete is a Progressive Web App, which means you can ‘install’ it on your mobile phone via the menu. It’s a glorified bookmark on your homescreen - but it opens full-screen. Furthermore, aggressive caching makes that it should still open and show some data for a previously visited location and map theme!

There were 7 requests for various improvements to specific themes and a few requests for advanced features which might or might not fit the concept of an ‘easy to use’-map editor.

Houston, we have problem…

Another problem surfaced in the previous question. A big chunk of answers made it clear that there is still a lot of confusion with the android app StreetComplete - namely 11 answers (or 6% of all respondents)…

This implies that the results of this survey should be interpreted as being about the OpenStreetMap-community, not about users of MapComplete specifically.

And it also brings us to our next topic about how well-known MapComplete is, which you can read more about in the next post!

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Comment from Peter Elderson on 9 March 2023 at 22:03

About the Houston problem. MapComplete, I think, was called MapComplete with a wink to StreetComplete. This generates the confusion and keeps it alive. Would it be totally unthinkable to rename? MapYourTheme, Mapatheme, MapOnTheGo, Maps4U. MapFillary (sorry no, strike that one).

MapYourTheme could be paraphrased in specific themes: MapYourBench, MapYourShop, MapYourTap, MapYourPub.

Comment from Pieter Vander Vennet on 9 March 2023 at 22:42

Renaming is an option, but often the individual thematic maps come with their own branding, especially if they are commissioned (such as the Pin je Punt-one).

I’m open to rename, but it has to be a catchy name ;) Map Your Theme isn’t to bad, but I’m not very fond of it either…

Comment from Mateusz Konieczny on 20 March 2023 at 12:50

maybe something indicating that you map some specific topic?

MapEverything? DeepMap? MapLens? MapTelescope?

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