OpenStreetMap

This is part two which highlights the results of the OSM user survey. Read part 1 about demographics and identity and part 2 about the favourite maps

How well-known is MapComplete?

Not that well-known, it seems. In the previous question, 11 people out of 59 who took the time to fill out this question, mistook MapComplete for StreetComplete. This is a clear sign that there is still some work to do.

How did people get to know MapComplete?

How did people get to know MapComplete in the first place?

Via Reddit (13 mentions), Twitter and Mastodon (13 mentions) and the Weekly OSM (9 mentions).

There are honorouble mentions for online chatrooms (6 mentions), word of mouth (6 mentions), the OSM-forum (3 mentions) or ‘arriving via a specific map’ (3 mentions).

From these results, it’s clear that the online spaces where I regularly pitch MapComplete (namely Reddit and Mastodon) also resulted in some people discovering MapComplete.

However, this makes me wonder how applications such as StreetComplete and EveryDoor got to such a big userbase quickly. It seems that creating a mobile phone app with offline capabilities helps with this.

Good questions to ask next year?

I’m planning on doing a similar survey next year (or in one year and a half) to see how things evolve. To be able to compare results, it is interesting to have the same questions, even though some improvements can probably be made (e.g. in wording and more nuanced options).

It is also hard to gauge if people are part of a marginalized group. As such, it is hard to know if we reach those people as well.

But there might be room for other good questions. If you have suggestions, feel free to let them know

Anything else you’d like to say?

This was the question with the most uplifting answers, as many, many people wrote in a compliment about how much they like MapComplete and the work I did! (Well, some of them were probably thinking about StreetComplete)

Thank you everyone involved!

Conclusions

To wrap it up:

  • OpenStreetMap is a very male-dominated community
  • People use MapComplete because it fits their activities and hobbies, it helps them professionally, as activists, to help other people or for daily issues
  • There are many different needs and wants in the community
  • MapComplete is not well-known yet, we should consider different branding and communicate more
  • The community would like a custom theme builder and offline capabilities (e.g. as an app)

That’s it! I definitively learned much thanks to this survey, hopefully you did learn something as well.

And as usual, feel free to follow my mastodon or the MapComplete Mastodon for more updates.

Discussion

Comment from philippec on 12 March 2023 at 10:58

Mapcomplete is the easiest way to add Imgur pictures.

Comment from Matija Nalis on 28 March 2023 at 16:37

However, this makes me wonder how applications such as StreetComplete and EveryDoor got to such a big userbase quickly

I can give my experience… I’ve love (especially offline) PWAs, but online map-based ones are not really ideal use; they seem clunky and slow. (personally I’ve found user experience using MapComplete on mobile, in several of the free web browsers from f-droid that I’ve tried, to be sub-par, especially when compared to StreetComplete)

So being mostly-offline with some preparations (so no data charges, no huge battery drain) with fast resposiveness and beautiful and simple UI is certainly huge boon– but the biggest thing is in fact versatility.

StreetComplete for example has “Overlay mode” which is somewhat similar to MapComplete themes (i.e. it covers only one thing: one overlay only covers shops, other only cycling infrastructure, yet other only road surfaces etc.) – while those are more powerful than “Quest mode”, I find that I use Overlays waaaay less then regular (somewhat less-powerful) StreetComplete quests. (and both StreetComplete modes are equally fast and user friendly, so that eliminates that factor from the equation)

The reason being that I’m not interested in only one thing. I’m very interested in dozen of them. And having to constantly switch from overlay to overlay every hundred meters is so painful overhead (each overlay change requires 4 clicks!) that I simply give up on it. With StreetComplete quests on the other hand, I can enable dozen of them and very quickly answer all of them using same interface with no overhead at all. It is a pleasure to use and covers dozen(s) of my interests at once.

Same thing with EveryDoor - it allows me add, remove, edit or move any POI quickly. While it does have 4 separate modes, they are all single-click away, and I spend most time in only one of them (either “amenity mode” if area is weakly mapped, or “micromapping mode” if it is well-mapped).

The ease of accomplishing ALL that one wants from single place is overwhelmingly attractive to me.

As another example of that psychology effect, when I take a two-week vacation for cyclotouring, I’ll depend on OsmAnd and offline maps. Not because it is the best source of data (it isn’t), but because it is offline, and everything is in one familiar place.

I find even the idea that I should download, learn and use dozen of different apps for that one trip, each made exclusively for one city or region or county (so that I would use each of them at most for a day or two) is so ludicrous and tiring that no amount of high quality curated and guaranteed up-to-date data that they provide would be able to make up for that lack of convenience and win me over. Hey, I’d probably stick to OsmAnd even if the app with perfect data was country-wide (and not only because they’re rarely open source, which I hugely prefer, but also because they’d either have to be extremely basic thus lacking much of the info I want, or they’d have to be as complex as OsmAnd and it would take me weeks just to learn to use them efficiently)

I wish municipals paying for making of those apps would realize that and instead of paying developers to creates myriad of the navigation apps, they’d pay them for syncing their high-quality data periodically to OSM instead.

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