apm-wa's Diary

Recent diary entries

March 10-11 I will present a series of three Big Blue Button video conferences open to the OSM community 8 hours apart to answer questions about results of the OSMF community survey, at noon UTC and 2000 UTC March 10, and 0400 March 11 UTC (these correspond to 0700, 1500, and 2300 EST). I will present some summaries of the data in graphic form, then take questions. I will use my Big Blue Button home room at

I also plan to open an instance of Microsoft Translator and to speak into it in English, and will share the access code for the instance at the start of the presentation, so that anybody with Microsoft Translator’s app (on desktop, notebook, tablet, or smart phone) can follow my oral narrative in the language of their choosing. I will also use the Power Point 365 facility for rendering speech to text so that anyone who can read English can read subtitles as I speak. Anyone planning to view the video conference should download the Microsoft Translator app in advance and become familiar with it first.

The anonymized, raw results of the 2021 OSMF community survey have been posted here in .ods format spreadsheets. There are two spreadsheets, one containing anonymized raw data, and the other containing summary statistics calculated from the raw data before anonymization. I believe I have caught all errors made in the initial trials of calculating summary statistics (I had to brush up some long-dormant spreadsheet skills), but will appreciate being notified if anybody reading this notices anomalies or errors in the statistics.

I am continuing to analyze the raw data, and if there are specific requests for cross-sectional analysis not already presented in the summary statistics spreadsheet, please let me know, and I’ll try to fit them into my schedule.

We are working on normalization of the data against mapping activity by country. Since 84% of respondents identified themselves as mappers, this should help us to weight (normalize) the responses by geography. Initial examination of normalization trials revealed, however, that the differences between raw results and normalized results do not appear large. We are therefore proceeding with release of the raw data.

Please feel free to amplify this message via social media and other communications channels and in languages other than English. Many thanks in advance for your help.

With two days left to take the OSM Foundation’s community survey, we have 2835 full responses out of 4059 total responses. The survey is available in 18 languages. If you are an OSM community member and have not yet taken the survey, please do! If you know a community member who has not taken the survey, please encourage that OSMer to take it! is the link to the survey, take your pick of the languages!

Please spread the word through social media, your communications channels, to the whole OSM community in your country of residence! Please feel free to translate this message into other languages and to spread it around!

And if you have taken the survey already, the Board of Directors and I thank you!

The survey now offers 18 languages (Arabic, Chinese (Traditional; Taiwan), English, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kurdish (Sorani), Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese).

As of today (3 February) the survey has received 2381 full responses and 962 incomplete responses, for a total of 3,343 responses. A total of 3,875 tokens have been requested.

Responses are predictably tapering off from the peak of 461 on 23 January (the day after a banner went up on, but remain relatively high with over 100 responses daily. The survey will remain open until February 14th, so if you have not taken it yet, please give the OSM Foundation five to ten minutes of your time to share your opinions!

The OSM Foundation Board of Directors needs your feedback on actions it took in 2020 plus your sentiments regarding controversial questions, and asks for some demographic data (optional) so we can understand better both the survey data and the structure of the community. Coincidentally, the survey is divided into “Feedback”, “Community Sentiment”, and “Demographic Data (optional)”.

After seven days, the OSMF 2021 Survey of the OSMverse has received 1,918 responses in total, of which 1,424 are “full” responses (that is, they include the optional demographic data).

A sum of 1,918 total responses means the survey features a 2.24% confidence interval at the 95% confidence level, and a 2.95% confidence interval at the 99% confidence level. The survey features a confidence interval under 3%! This is good validation of the sample, though I suspect it still suffers from a European and North American bias. Male respondents also dominate the sample quite heavily. Therefore: please spread the word, especially to colleagues in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, and to women and non-binary mappers! And data users! And software developers! And systems folks! Everyone in the OSM community!

We are shooting for a 2% confidence interval at the 95% confidence level, for which we need a minimum sample of 2,401 “full” respondents, and preferably they will be distributed geographically. Since about a quarter of respondents so far have declined to provide demographic data, this implies we need to hit 3,201 “total” responses or thereabouts.

So please encourage your mapping friends and colleagues, data users, anyone involved in OSM you can think of, to take the survey! It only takes about 5 to 10 minutes to answer 18 questions, and so far is available in 16 languages (English, Chinese (Traditional; Taiwan), French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese).

At the moment, after 5-1/2 days, we have 1496 responses, of which 1116 are “full”, meaning they include demographic data that will allow us to do some cross-sectional analysis (almost 29% of respondents decline to provide demographic data). But keep spreading the word. We have 16 languages available: (English, Chinese (Traditional; Taiwan), French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Polish, Portuguese (Brazilian), Russian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese). If you know of a group that needs another language and can link me with someone to translate the questionnaire, please do so! I have become adept at copying and pasting languages I don’t understand into Lime Survey.

We needed 1067 respondents to achieve a 3% error term at the 95% confidence level, but now I’d like for us to push for a 2% error term. As you all know, the larger the sample, the more accurate the estimates, and the wider we cast our net, the less the selection bias. For that we need 4160 respondents. We have three weeks left in the survey so it is possible if we continue to spread the word. Please help! The URL is Please spread the word in whatever other languages you can, please encourage OSMers to participate, please use all available communication channels to reach as many corners of the OSMverse as you can!

The 2021 OSMF Survey of the OSM community has been activated

Posted by apm-wa on 17 January 2021 in English (English). Last updated on 21 January 2021.

The 2021 OSMF Survey of the OSM community has been activated. It will be open for participation until February 14th. Please surf to the following URLs to register for the survey. You will receive an email in return with a single-use token that can be used to take the survey.

Please be aware that the Persian (Farsi) translation is 100% machine translation, via Microsoft Translator. I apologize in advance for any mistakes, since this is a language I do not know, and I could not find volunteer translators to edit and correct the machine translation. There will be errors, but I hope not serious mistranslations that make the survey impossible to understand. If you can help with editing the Persian translation, please message me.

Please amplify this message throughout the OSM community–spread the word! Please use your preferred communications channels to encourage everyone in the OSM community worldwide to participate in this survey! I thank you in advance for that.

English (Base language):

Chinese (Traditional; Taiwan):







Portuguese (Brazilian):




=== UPDATE ===

Indonesian (Bahasa)




Very best regards, and happy mapping!

To the OSM and OSMF communities:

I convey the following information on behalf of the Board of Directors of the OpenStreetMap Foundation.

An outcome of the current controversy on the osmf-talk mailing list over misogynistic language is a decision by the Board as follows:

The Board will find partners to help instate a moderator team for the OSMF-talk and talk mailing lists. 
These moderators need to have the trust of the community subject to the moderation (consent of the governed) by some kind of approval mechanism. 
This moderator team will start to work on enforcing the current Etiquette guidelines as soon as possible. We will also start work on updating/replacing our Etiquette rules, which must focus on balancing all participants' interests.

We have asked the Local Chapters and Communities Working Group (LCCWG) to take the lead on this and to work with signatories of the open letter to the Board as well as members of the Diversity and Inclusion Special Committee to produce proposals for the Board to consider at its January meeting. The LCCWG has accepted this task. This issue will be on the agenda of the January meeting of the Board of Directors, exact time and date yet to be determined, though as is customary it will be posted to the Foundation’s website well in advance.

Members of the OSM community are, as always, welcome to share their opinions and any relevant information on this matter, either publicly via osmf-talk, or privately in direct communications to the LCCWG. I feel compelled to remind all members of the community that a Code of Etiquette has existed since June 2011 and shall be observed by all community members.

Very best regards to all, apm

The 14th Annual General Meeting of the OpenStreetMap Foundation will be held online in the IRC chat room #osmf-gm on the IRC network, at 1600 UTC on Saturday, 12 December 2020. If you are a member of the Foundation, you are encouraged to log in.

Please see the following wiki page close to the AGM date for information on how to connect to IRC: You will also be able to join via your browser:


  • Apologies for Absence
  • Minutes of the last Meeting
  • Chairperson’s report
  • Treasurer’s Report
  • Election to Board
  • Results of voting on the special resolution and the other suggested resolutions
  • Any other business

The agenda can also be viewed at, where links to the reports will be available before the meeting.

The OSMF Board is asking the membership to approve an amendment to the Articles of Association that will allow Board committees (specified in the AoA as only consisting of Board members) to include any Foundation member, associate or full, to serve on a Board committee. The reason for this is that some of the Board’s administrative work, such as handling our finances, has proven very time consuming, more than one person can handle. Another sphere is the budget preparation, and yet another is fundraising. Since the Board is also hiring fulltime staff and engaging contractors, it needs help with oversight.

Some board members have been asked if this is intended to supplant the Working Groups. At least one diary entry has been posted by a community member asserting that this is the case, and urging Foundation members to vote against the amendment.

The proposed AoA amendment is NOT intended to supplant Working Groups. The Working Groups handle the substantive and administrative issues of the community, which is separate from the Foundation and the Board. The Working Groups would therefore not be affected. As I envision it, the Board committees would deal with personnel, budget, and fundraising, none of which fall in the remit of any Working Group.

I urge Foundation members to vote in favor of the AoA amendment, and then to volunteer to serve on one of the Board committees (and on Working Groups, too, but separately!)

New Local Chapters in the OSMF

Posted by apm-wa on 22 November 2020 in English (English).

Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in the Local Chapters and Communities Congress, where we celebrated and Joost Schouppe ceremoniously countersigned new local chapter agreements. At the beginning of 2020, the OSMF had 8 local chapters, all in Europe. Today we have 14 local chapters, on five continents: Europe, South America, North America, Asia, and as of the last OSMF Board meeting, Africa. Joost as Board secretary has done the lion’s share of the work in processing six applications so far this year and deserves kudos for his efforts.

Among other things we discussed what the role of local chapters should be in OSM governance. Nothing has been set in stone, and indeed the conversation in a breakout session on the topic was free-flowing. Rob Nickerson of OSM UK suggested that the local chapters might be asked to help decide on admission of new corporate members, and also to help the Board prioritize paid work (e.g., to help decide when volunteer contributions of labor are not keeping up and OSM needs to pay somebody to fix broken software). I think these are ideas worth considering.

The conversation yielded a suggestion that the OSMF Board assist local chapters and communities with fundraising and perhaps help coordinate fundraising.

I have my own thoughts on this–I don’t think the Board itself should be a source of funds for local chapters and communities, because that could lead to dependency relationships that would undermine the decentralized nature of the OSM community, one of its strengths. That said, there is perhaps a role for the Board in cooperating with the LCCWG to assist local chapters in raising their own funds and to ensure that we don’t interfere with each other in the process.

The Bridges of Madison County

Posted by apm-wa on 28 October 2020 in English (English).

I’m in Iowa on a political campaign, but took last Sunday off to tour the six surviving covered bridges of Madison County. If you are interested in a virtual tour, check out the images I uploaded to Mapillary. I used a GoPro Hero 7 Black, newly acquired after the GPS function of the GoPro Hero 5 Black refused to work.

a covered bridge

Location: Madison County, Iowa, United States

I have finally bitten the bullet and acquired a GoPro Hero 5 Black as well as a windshield mount for it, and tomorrow will test it out for collection of Mapillary imagery. Until now I have used smartphones and the Mapillary app exclusively, but that only works if someone else is driving and I can restart the video when the app invariably either crashes or locks up at some point. Since retiring from the ambassadorship, I am now my own chauffeur and no longer enjoy the luxury of being a passenger who can serve as the photographer. Mrs. Mustard kindly granted permission to splurge on a dedicated camera for collecting ground-level imagery.

The OSMF Board decided in August to bite another bullet and resolved to finance a full-time developer of iD, the OSM default editor, plus a full-time system reliability engineer position to ensure maximum reliability of the hardware. The Potlatch maintainer also received a grant for porting Potlatch, since Flash is soon to be deprecated, and some mappers are still using Potlatch very heavily. The Board expressed a strong desire to maintain diversity in the editor ecosystem despite the dominance of JOSM and iD. JOSM maintainers were pinged but indicated that financial support for JOSM is not needed. These decisions were not taken lightly, were discussed with the community, debated within the Board itself, and in the end adopted unanimously because maintenance and support of core infrastructure are crucial to the OSM project, and demands on that infrastructure are only growing.

Bringing History to Life

Posted by apm-wa on 30 August 2020 in English (English).

Today as the remnants of Hurricane Laura dumped rain on my house, I chose to stay indoors and resume reading “Land of the Turkomans”, an anthology of reports delivered in the 1800s to the Royal Geographic Society of expeditions and explorations of what is today Turkmenistan. As I delved into the reports, I realized that I had been in many of the places described, and if not, at least knew where they were. Out came the Soviet military maps, and I began trying to plot the routes of the explorers.

One noted the names of water wells as he crossed the Karakum Desert led by a local guide. It struck me. Of course, a semi-nomadic people like the 19th-century Turkmen tended not to reside in villages out in the middle of the desert, but to move their flocks of sheep and herds of camels from pasture to pasture, always bearing in mind the locations of wells for watering themselves as well as their animals. Thus the wells have names! A review of the Soviet military maps revealed that some of those wells existed at least as late as the 1980s (and probably still do). I’d never thought of that…where there are few to no villages, names are assigned to water wells.

A trip from Gokdepe to Khiva, which today might take perhaps 10- to 12 hours by automobile (including up to two hours to clear Customs at the border), back then involved a minimum of two weeks’ “march” across the desert, including one five-day stretch without water, and was only possible in practice during spring and fall, when temperate weather was somewhat assured.

Location: Ahal Region, Turkmenistan

Busy with Board Business

Posted by apm-wa on 4 August 2020 in English (English). Last updated on 5 August 2020.

(Guillaume and Allan wrote this together, and will therefore share the verbal abuse it will generate)

In its first seven months, the ‘new’ (well, no longer all that new) OSM Foundation Board of Directors has made progress on issues facing OSM and the OSM community:

  • Conducted a SWOT analysis of OSM;
  • Adopted a diversity statement and created the Diversity and Inclusion Special Committee;
  • Adopted a conflict of interest policy;
  • Initiated a review of our software landscape according to the FOSS Policy;
  • Launched the microgrant program, and approved the first 12 microgrants;
  • Adopted the Membership Working Group’s proposal for new membership criteria, consisting of a set number of mapping days or equivalent voluntary contribution;
  • Moved to a new bank (our previous bank, Barclays, decided to terminate its business relationship with us, and after a long search for a new bank, we moved our savings to Triodos Bank and our everyday movements to TransferWise);
  • Started using and stopped using Mollie for membership credit card payments;
  • Initiated monthly consultations with the Advisory Board;
  • Started inviting local chapters to give presentations at OSMF Board meetings in order to improve communication. OpenStreetMap á Íslandi is historically the first local chapter, and gave the first presentation;
  • Adopted the new local chapter agreement template after community consultation;
  • Laid a foundation for responsible employment by adopting a hiring framework;
  • Restarted regular online meetings of the Operations Working Group;
  • Subscribed to the DeepL translation API to address the English-language dominance in OSM, and made it available to the Communications Working Group and the weeklyOSM;
  • Shifted our official open board meetings from Mumble to video conferencing via FOSS solution Big Blue Button, and supported the OSM community by making BBB available to others. We still chat on the board IRC channel every day, but also have informal midmonth chats on BBB;
  • Adopted LWG’s recommendation for the standard style tile licence;
  • Updated the Board’s Rules of Order to cover Working Groups and Special Committees;
  • Reaffirmed our support for the existing core values;
  • Voted on 17 membership fee waiver applications under the ‘old’ fee waiver policy and approved 13 of them;
  • Welcomed OpenStreetMap Česká republika as the OSMF Local Chapter for Czechia;
  • Granted Cesium permission to use our trademark in their product “Cesium OSM Buildings”. Please note that a community project called “OSM buildings” exists since 2012.

Further tasks are currently in progress; the most significant ones are:

The common threads running through these Board actions have been

  1. consultation with the OSM community on issues of policy or expenditure of significant sums of money,
  2. focus on broadening the Foundation’s membership base and the active participation of members, and
  3. stabilising and enhancing our infrastructure.

With regard to that last point, since what is and isn’t ‘infrastructure’ has yet to be defined clearly, community consultation is very important. At present, opinions about what is included vary, and thus informed points of view from knowledgeable community members are of enormous value and are taken quite seriously.

At the same time, all of us on the Board are also mappers. Just before the end of July, Allan hit 15,500 changesets, up from 15,000 as of June 7. Guillaume is mapping less often, but is slowly approaching a million map changes. So the Board work is keeping us busy, but not so busy we cannot do some of the fun stuff, too.

I have completed an overhaul of Turkmenistan’s municipalities in the OpenStreetMap database. All cities are identified, plus all but four towns (those pesky four are still hiding), and 256 out of 481 “village councils” are now on the map, as well as 504 out of 1,717 “villages” known to exist. If anybody knows offhand where the four missing towns (şäherçeler) are located, please drop me a line.

Each geolocated village now also has addr:city tags so we know to which municipality it is subordinate (this is important because so many village names are used over and over again), as well as addr:district tags to aid in identification.

Misnamed municipalities or those with obsolete names have been corrected or updated, and old_name tags have been added where appropriate. Mapillary key numbers for images of signs have been added in several cases to assure positive identification.

On the wiki, the “Turkmenistan Geoname Changes” page features a list of cities and towns with hyperlinks to their respective nodes and ways on, and “Districts in Turkmenistan” features a list of villages with the same for them, wherever a village has been geolocated. This will ease finding specific municipalities by province and district.

I spent a bit more than four years mapping Turkmenistan en situ and did not want the accumulated knowledge to go unused, hence this effort to get everything I learned into the database..There is still more to do: 1,213 villages remain unidentified, and those four towns are out there somewhere. But this is a good start, and the map is in much better shape than it was in 2015.

Location: Ahal Region, Turkmenistan

As of this morning I hit 15,000 edits. I am methodically plowing through the wiki’s “Districts in Turkmenistan” list of villages, identifying them on the map wherever they are, and adding a link to the node or way of the village on OSM. That will make it easier for me to identify which villages remain to be mapped as I seek to complete the map of Turkmenistan from my armchair.

I Hope I Did This Right

Posted by apm-wa on 23 May 2020 in English (English).

Last evening I created for the first time a multilingual (Russian, in this case) version of a wiki page. I pulled up the instructions and drew on some experience editing Wikipedia to create a RU: version, then used DeepL to create a rough draft translation in a word processor. Next I plowed through the machine translation and edited it as best my command of the Russian language could permit. Along the way I discovered I do not know certain terms of art, such as how to say “ground truth” in Russian. At some point I will have to ask a native speaker of Russian to take a look at it and do some cleanup.

You can find the interim result of this work here. I surely do hope I followed the instructions correctly!

Given the COVID-19 pandemic, even though Turkmenistan has reported no cases, I spent part of this week checking the tags of hospitals and clinics in that country to make sure anyone using OSM data could find the nearest hospital or clinic, if it is in the OSM database. Overpass Turbo came in very handy for this exercise.

After completing that task, I started tinkering with Overpass Turbo and pulled up the hotels in Turkmenistan. In Mary I discovered four different locations had been entered in the OSM database for the Soviet-era Sanjar Hotel. Only one could be correct. Fortunately I found a ground-level photo of both the hotel and its associated cafe among the Mapillary images I had collected in years past, and so was able to identify the correct buildings for hotel and cafe, and delete incorrect tags from the others (one of them is the Mary province tax office–hardly a good place to spend the night).

Location: J. Atajanow adyndaky geňeşlik, Mary Region, 745400, Turkmenistan