SomeoneElse has commented on the following diary entries

Post When Comment
[OSMOpinion] STOP discrimination against China and Chinese mappers in OSM community 17 days ago

To reply to Adamant1’s point above, there are insults coming form both sides here, and they don’t place any of the people making them in a good light (as I said 3 weeks ago). However, separately to “basic insults” like those there are:

  1. Some people making statements that are simply untrue
  2. Some other people making statements that (a) don’t really add anything to the argument and (b) are just flat-out racist bigotry.

I think it’s important to rebut (1) immediately and to challenge untruths directly. If lies aren’t challenged with at least a request for evidence, a previously uninformed observer might get the impression that the lie has some validity. We’re going through an era where politicians of many stripes have found that they can get away with lying simply by stating their “alternative facts” loudly enough and often enough. We shouldn’t let that happen in OSM by not challenging untruths, and I’ve tried to do that in both recent threads, from whichever side of the argument the claims came from.

(2) is more nuanced. There’s an argument that says that statements like this the should be immediately hidden as if they had never been made; another that should be left up so that other people can condemn them, and also as an indicator that the person making them isn’t a serious contributor to the discussion; and still another that the person making them should be asked to make an explicit apology. With a DWG hat on with statements in category (2) I’ve tended to do whichever of those three actions that I thought that the current situation needed. Here the statements that redsteakraw made above have already been roundly condemned, and an explicit apology from them might undo some of the damage already made to their reputation.

I don’t claim to have a monopoly of wisdom on this though - there have been vociferious arguments expressed elsewhere in favour of hiding comments like this immediately to avoid causing further hurt; on the other side of the argument some mappers recently objected to a DWG request that they remove some pretty appallling public statements that those mappers had made because “freedom of expression” allowed them to make them. Following an escalation they removed the statements.

With regard to moderation in OSM more generally, following on from this announcement it’s worth noting that further discussion is ongoing.

[OSMOpinion] STOP discrimination against China and Chinese mappers in OSM community 18 days ago

I’m sure your aware of the American government requesting paths in national parks be deleted from OSM. … 100% of the time the DWG automatically complies and no one cares.

(whataboutery snipped; Mateusz has addressed it above)

On the “paths in national parks in the USA question”, I absolutely don’t recognise either part of that assertion (that the DWG “does whatever the American Government asks” or “that no-one cares”). Our perspective has always been map what’s there - and get the tagging right. In the case of paths in US National Parks that would mean accurately determining the current status, ensure that access, surface, trail_visibility and other tags were set appropriately. Often that means asking someone “please don’t delete that path if it actually exists; set access to private” or “please add a lifecycle tag to that ‘highway’ tag if it used to exist and doesn’t any more”; sometimes it might be “does that thing that someone added from Strava really exist at all?”. Also (and I’m not going to “out” the culprits here) it means asking app developers to “please fix your mobile phone app so that it shows where people are not allowed to go”.

Separately to that, the OSM community in the USA has embarked on a project around trails; there’s ongoing discussion in OSM US fora about it too. I’d suggest that anyone interested in mapping trails in the USA get involved with that.
@Adamant1 : However, when engaging with a community of other people sometimes you need to listen to their point of view, and avoid grandstanding yours with unverifiable accusations. That will require a considerable change of tone from your comments above.

[OSMOpinion] STOP discrimination against China and Chinese mappers in OSM community 26 days ago

@渤海西岸 (re the “foreigners/westerners are self-righteous” comment)**

… well over at the other diary entry I wrote

 many/most people have a sense that “their community” or “their society” is somehow “better”, “different” or “exceptional”

I think that you’re just describing a sepecific example of what I was talking about generally :) Everybody thinks that they’re right and the other people in the argument are wrong; the problem is how to progress from there to something that allows a working relationship despite the differences.

**I’m relying on online translators and examples for nuance here, which is a risky approach at best.

[OSMOpinion] STOP discrimination against China and Chinese mappers in OSM community 26 days ago

I wonder if DWG is still working on the China-Bhutan disputed area case opened >20 days ago? It would be nice if all OSM users can know how things are going.

I’ve not been directly involved in this case (other than commenting on a couple of diary entries), but I think we are due to discuss it. I do know from previous cases such as Western Sahara that there’s a lot of investigation needed - wading through all sorts of different evidence, figuring out how up to date everything is and how reliable various textual sources are takes a lot of time.

The challenge is not just making a decision but explaining it and defending to to people who (as we have seen above) have very different visions of what OSM is and should be. I think the DWG broadly got that right with the discussions around Kosovo and Western Sahara, but could have done a better job when it came to Crimea (and that includes communications at all levels, including with the OSMF board of the time). With Crimea we’re still in something of an “agree to disagree” situation, as evidenced by arguments put forward here, here and here. That last one is particularly interesting as among others it includes the views of a number of past, present and future OSMF board members. One big caveat is that all of these links are all to English language OSM discussions, and in OSM that’s just one language among many.

Hacked 26 days ago


If you think there is a problem with your Instagram account you’ll have to contact Instagram/Facebook. It is nothing to do with OpenStreetMap.

Best Regards,


[OSMOpinion] STOP discrimination against China and Chinese mappers in OSM community 26 days ago

To address just one issue raised above:

@Hike&Map You said:

I feel the real problem is - that OSMF continues to reject any proposal for a proper tagging scheme for disputed areas.

(rest of rant snipped)

Can you link to what actual proposal(s) you’re referring to here, say where and when the OSMF rejected then, and also who within the OSMF rejected them (the board, a working group, the membership, some other body?).

Today’s version of:

is a reasonable summary of recent history, I think. Both and appeared at about the same time. One was more complicated, proposed in the wiki, and was rejected by a wiki vote (unrelated to anything to do with OSMF). The other one was simpler but (despite my private suggestions to the author at the time) was never voted on.

The reasons for rejection of the more complicated one are useful to read.

If you really want to try and help, please help draw up “a true neutral mapping scheme”, explain what tags would be used and how it could apply to existing problem areas. Explain how it would work and how map consumers who want to see a something that doesnt match the on-the-ground reality (which by definition means “who occupies what territory”) on a map could use it to create maps. I’d suggest that you start with a diary entry of your own explaining your scheme, and discuss with other mappers via comments there. I’d love to understand exactly what you mean by things like “contested by international recognized to international court in the The Hague ruling” (I’m guessing you mean the ICC - but a glance at even just the non-signatories on that page suggests that it’s unlikely to solve all the problems that you think it will. In particular you’d need to discuss difficult situations such as Taiwan (OSM thinks that is a country, many international organisations do not), Western Sahara (OSM doesn’t think that is a country, but the UN thinks it ought to be) and Kosovo (UN members are divided roughly 50/50 on that but OSM believes that it passes the duck test as a country).

You’ve seen on this diary entry and others how invested various people are in their particular point of view, and how difficult it will be to try and bring them together. It’s easy to sit outside the process and say “those people trying to solve the problem are idiots”, but it achieves absolutely nothing, and just makes you look like you haven’t really understood the problem.

(wrongly edited - please delete) 27 days ago

As requested, I’ll hide this diary entry.

[OSMOpinion] OpenStreetMap must not be the petri dish of political-driven nonsense 27 days ago

About names and languages - above someone’s said that “but at very least they should be mapped as name.zh= with name= tags reserved for names in local languages as per OSM convention”. For the avoidance of doubt, that’s not what the OSMF’s policy says.

I can think of plenty of places around the world where “the main language of a country is X, but people here most speak Y”. The OSM policy is as closely as possible to follow the situation on the ground in the “name” tag and to ensure that name:xx tags are used to capture other genuine names for places (i.e. not just transliterations) in other languages. Sometimes OSM communities decide to use multiple names in the “name” tag, and that’s fine too, providing that’s really the local community decision.

[OSMOpinion] OpenStreetMap must not be the petri dish of political-driven nonsense 27 days ago

One more point about verifiability and sources, alas it seems that the terms of (see here) at any licence level below Enterprise are “Non-commercial use”or a CC licence that isn’t compatible with OSM. There are potential ways forward involving asking the organisation (or who actually licences the imagery, if someone different) whether OSM could use it, but without that it looks like we can’t use it right now.

[OSMOpinion] OpenStreetMap must not be the petri dish of political-driven nonsense 27 days ago

(replying to part of NM$L’s comment above addressed to me):

I also understand that the so-called “patriotism” and other content you mentioned is not useful for OSM data, but you can’t prevent people from holding “patriotism” because of this. Even I believe you do.

On the latter point, in my case you might be surprised, but it’s absolutely true that many/most people have a sense that “their community” or “their society” is somehow “better”, “different” or “exceptional”. In OSM I’ve seen evidence of that from the UK, US and German communities among others - it’s an entirely normal part of the human condition.

Howver, in OSM we have a concept of verifiability, meaning not just “I think this is X” but “if other people looked at it, they’d think it was X too” To take another border dispute as an example, where should OSM say one country ends and another begins? The answer in that dispute (after discussions in OSM forums designed to include all sides) was “where the military frontier is”. This frontier is very clear on aerial images, and while they can sometimes be open to interpretation, the aerial images themselves don’t have a political point of view - they’re just pictures.

Let’s not have an argument about values (at least, not in OSM) but instead let’s talk about verifiable data. What evidence is there in this case that is not tainted by political influence from either side of the dispute?

[OSMOpinion] OpenStreetMap must not be the petri dish of political-driven nonsense about 1 month ago

@NMSL - the last line of your comment translates for me as “Your present whole article is the one that plausibly pours out your political views”.

That’s more than a little bit disingenuous coming from someone who has an OSM profile that currently says “𝑆𝑎𝑓𝑒𝑔𝑢𝑎𝑟𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑛𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑜𝑣𝑒𝑟𝑒𝑖𝑔𝑛𝑡𝑦, 𝑢𝑛𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑡𝑒𝑟𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑜𝑟𝑖𝑎𝑙 𝑖𝑛𝑡𝑒𝑔𝑟𝑖𝑡𝑦 𝑖𝑠 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑔𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑓 𝑎𝑙𝑙 𝐶ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑒𝑠𝑒 𝑝𝑒𝑜𝑝𝑙𝑒, 𝑖𝑛𝑐𝑙𝑢𝑑𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑝𝑎𝑡𝑟𝑖𝑜𝑡𝑠 𝑖𝑛 𝐻𝑜𝑛𝑔 𝐾𝑜𝑛𝑔, 𝑀𝑎𝑐𝑎𝑜 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑇𝑎𝑖𝑤𝑎𝑛” below a map of the People’s Republic of China’s claimed, rather than on the ground, borders, and your “(do not rule out the future)” / “(不排除未来会)” comment above.

With a DWG hat on I’ve helped several people in this thread (on all sides of this issue) with previous problems and with the rest of the DWG will continue to do so - interpreting the policy as fairly and as even-handedly as we can. It would however help everyone to turn down the rhetoric somewhat - references to “𝑐𝑜𝑚𝑚𝑜𝑛 𝑜𝑏𝑙𝑖𝑔𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛”, “commies” or “patriotism” don’t really help anyone - as long as we share a common planet we’ll have to work together.

Andy (from the DWG)

What HOT’s Board Needs: A Top 5 List about 1 month ago

I’ve read through this a couple of times now, and I still can’t tell if it is serious or meant as a satire. Among lots of other bullshit bingo, you talk about “humanitarian disruptors” and “thought partners” - can this really be meant as a serious article?

Not once do I see a reference to the people that HOT is supposed to serve. You say (of HOT’s directors) “we listen a lot to each other” - how about listening a bit more widely than that?

– Andy (as is usual in diary comments, writing in an entirely personal capacity)

[OSMOpinion] OpenStreetMap must not be the petri dish of political-driven nonsense about 1 month ago

It is about Chinese government actively encouraging its citizens to exploit international platforms to spread its vision of the world.

We actually see that sort of thing for lots of places - at least we see lots of what is essentially the same form email filled in by different people, and sometimes we get requests form government officials and agencies too. I’ve dealt with at least one in the last year from someone who signed themselves as something like “Insert Name Here”, so it’s fair to say that sometimes the people passing these on don’t always read them too closely.

In terms of consolidated tickets, over the last year we’ve had most related to the Armenia / Azerbaijan conflict, then various Chinese conflicts, and then (tied for third) Ukraine / Crimea and India. If we get a dozen copies of the same complaint we’ll consolidate them onto one ticket, of course.

Where goverment officials aren’t directly involved it’s not possible to say whether these were initiated by a particular goverment or not - clearly levels of authoritarianism and “management of thought on the Internet” vary hugely around the world**, but this sort of “Internet Tribe” behaviour isn’t just limited to people living under authoritarian regimes - just look anywhere that comments are allowed on subjects as diverse as politics, football or bitcoin.

** and I’m certainly not trying to suggest some kind of moral equivalence among all governments here.

[OSMOpinion] OpenStreetMap must not be the petri dish of political-driven nonsense about 1 month ago

This is definitely a matter for OSMF and DWG to act on.

@ndrw6 , if you look at the “Changesets vandalising TW” above you’ll see that in each case (respectively 5, 3, 3 3 and 3 years ago) each was dealt with - the approach taken was to engage with the person making the change and explaining how OSM works; the key document being the “disputed territory” one here. The person replying is a DWG member.

At very least we need to be able to streamline tracking such changes…

My reply to that would be quite simple - “go on then”.

All of the tools available to users within the OSM community (including the DWG) were written by members of the OSM community (again, including the DWG). If you believe that something is missing you’re more than welcome to create that missing something.

This isn’t just a problem around Taiwan or around mainland China - elsewhere in other conflict areas we regularly see OSM users trying to put across their political views by “small” changes to borders (nudging a few nodes here and there) or admin level changes (“so and so isn’t really a country”). Part of this is just a misunderstanding of what OSM should show - we think Taiwan most definitely is a country because it passes the duck test for one; some other international organisations (such as the United Nations and the IOC) do not. The DWG regularly gets complaints of the form “The United Nations thinks X therefore you should also think X”.

Tracking the on-the-ground situation via international press reports (in a variety of languages, often with conflicting biases) is hard. Arguably a much easier problem would be tracking area changes to admin entities such as countries (if you want to help, you could even use this as a starting point).


(from the Data Working Group)

A deep dive into the OSM Wiki for service=driveway, the proposal service=Driveway2 and lack of professionalism by one OSM Wiki administrator about 2 months ago

Oh dear. It does seem that this diary entry comes from a place of pain.

As a native English English speaker, I’m not sure I recognise your “UK” definition of driveway - and anyway, even though OSM tends to use British English rather than the alternatives, there are plenty of exceptions - such as “city” - where OSM generally (and OSM communities seperately) have come up with a definition that doesn’t just come from one dictionary.

If I understand what you’re saying, it’s that “service roads linking parking aisles to roads that are not service roads should be tagged as service=something”, and that “something” can’t be “driveway” because that is used for something else? If so. I’d spend a bit more time explaining why that is a problem - what real-world tasks won’t be possible without this clarification?

I don’t think that’s entirely fair to say:

In the absence of such changes, we can only continue to tag the SHC and UK definition of driveway as service=driveway2.

when a quick look at (and who’s tagging what) suggests that “we” in that sentence is referring to mostly just one mapper - you.

I’m also not sure that I can see the “appalling and un-professional behaviour” that you link to either (in fact I had to guess who you might be referring to based on which of the linked page’s edits was a wiki admin).

Footway or Abandoned Railway? 3 months ago

As a footpath user, knowing that something is an abandoned railway is pretty useful information - I know it’ll be flat!

Footway or Abandoned Railway? 3 months ago

I’d tend to use both tags on something that is both.

Download errors 3 months ago

There are lots of places where you might downlaod things containing OpenStreetMap data. What are you downloading, and from where?

Map Validation at Facebook 3 months ago

Incidentally, I’ve just commented on an “#AtlasChecks” changeset at . It looks there as if a fake name added by a former contributor has accidentally been reapplied by Facebook, perhaps because the comparison data set wasn’t up to date?

DWG is at it again? 3 months ago

DWG can’t (or doesn’t want to) provide a reasonable explanation

To be clear - that’s not actually true. A number of Ukrainian mappers wrote to the DWG last night, and on behalf of the DWG I replied to them all (since I’ve not been involved in this particular dispute until now). It wasn’t what I had planned for a Friday evening, but there you go. Some pertinent points of those replies are paraphrased below, and my comments for the benefit of people not familiar with the issue are in square brackets:

For the avoidance of doubt - and I’m quoting from the block message here - a DWG member wrote “I will block your account until you remove it from your profile”. That makes it very clear that this isn’t a “block for 10 years” - it is a “block until the text is removed from the user profile”.

[Subsequent to me writing that message, user profiles were changed and blocks were removed].

[the next part refers to the user profile message itself, which was threatening to burn people of a different political persuasion to the writers]

Moving on to the text itself, it can be difficult to decide where to draw the line between what is satirical and what is offensive. However, wanting to burn anyone or anything is clearly not OK, even when the thing you want to burn is a cartoonish representation of someone with a particular political point of view. was adopted some time ago by the board as the way that people within OpenStreetMap should try to interact with one another, even when they hold conflicting views (political and otherwise). In the DWG we understand that, especially in the case of political disputes, this can be difficult, but as members of the OSM community we all owe everyone else within the community a fair hearing.

[extracts end]

To summarise, hate speech in OSM is never OK. It isn’t excused by the fact that the people writing it are from a country that has been partly annexed by another; OSM is one worldwide project. Everyone understands that it is difficult, but we have to try and find a way to work together.

If you think that there’s something that the DWG should do that it isn’t doing then please let us know (either to or directly to me if you prefer).

Best Regards,

Andy Townsend, on behalf of OSM’s Data Working Group.