Posted by SimonPoole on 25 October 2014 in English.

A bit over 10 months ago the SOSM board decided that we would try and systematically send a welcome note to every new contributor in Switzerland Today I just sent off the 1000th such message, not a big deal, takes a couple of seconds per mail and I typically send them every 2nd day or so. The mail (in 4 languages, really should be in five), tries to be as low key as possible and simply welcomes the new mapper and points out our local and international resources.


  • there hasn’t been a noticeable increase in SOSM membership signups, on the one hand 10 months is too short term to expect that to happen, and on the other hand we don’t actively solicit that in the mail anyway.
  • just as above direct feedback is quite rare.
  • the “one edit user” seems to be on the way out, most of the users already have more than one changeset by the time we send the mail (nailing that down in hard numbers is a project for another day).
  • given that Switzerland is rather small (8 million population), well mapped (as all DACH countries) you wouldn’t be surprised to see some indications of saturation after 9 years, but there are no such effects noticeable at all.

If you think this is a good idea and are considering doing something similar yourself, please note:

  • in most countries you will want to split the work up and coordinate, swamping new users with mail is likely not a good idea.
  • Pascal Neis provides a RSS with new users on a country by country base here:
  • users signing up to OSM don’t have to agree to receiving unsolicited mail, matter of fact there is currently no way that they can opt-in at all. This implies that you should consider the legal implications in whatever jurisdiction you are and be careful how you word your mails. I haven’t heard of any problems, but you never know.

As a final note: most old timers know about or have participated in the reoccurring discussions on why people sign up for an OSM account and then never edit (there is currently no way of getting zero edits sign ups per region, so you can’t contact those). I’m personally fairly sure that we have quite a good conversion rate, there are simply no comparable numbers from other projects available to prove that, others disagree. But as this example shows in the end we get them all :-).

PS: I should point out that by no way this is particularly original, we have had users doing this for a long time, it should be seen more as a reminder that this can be done.


Comment from naoliv on 25 October 2014 at 22:23

We are also sending a welcome message to new users in Brazil.

Comment from species on 31 October 2014 at 13:14

I’ve also doing this for two years or so for my city (Graz, ~300.000 inh.). There were 10-15 new users a month, and statistically every second month our monthly local pub meetup “Stammtisch” grows by one member. So you get one-in-a-thirty rate of new users for joining our meetup, which isn’t bad in my opinion.

But maybe this rate depends on the size of the region and vicinity of the meetup place.

Is there an automated system for doing so? I’ve been doing it manually up to now.

Comment from SimonPoole on 31 October 2014 at 13:35

@species There is no automated system, as there is no API to the mail system, which is missing for a number of good reasons, among others to avoid real mass mail (and associated making OSM even more attractive for spammers). The other thing is that it forces small units of reachout, aka to your immediate area, which as you say work well.

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