The issue of motivation of mappers has come up a lot lately in different contexts, be it commercial interests and imports, adding specific POIs because they share a common payment form, adding notes that advertise a business, etc.
Ideally, we wouldn’t care about why someone is motivated to contribute to OSM- if the data is good, we accept it, and if the data is not good, we don’t. Unfortunately the reality is more nuanced than this. The reason that someone wants to add data to OSM can significantly influence the way that they enter the data.
Let’s take the extreme example first about notes that are meant to advertise a product, this note here: http://www.openstreetmap.org/note/78163
That note simply says:
We are proud to present our new Search engine http://www.1search.info
Now, I don’t think the motivation of this person is very good, and in the meantime the account has been deleted for spam.
But we have more subtle examples of adding businesses to OSM, as shown by our discussion about addresses of offices vs mailboxes.
In regards to imports, there have been concerns that importers may be responding to commercial pressure to get a certain dataset into OSM. So far those concerns have not been validated by facts, but the concerns are real.
I think this question of motivation is at the heart of many of the recent disagreements. Two mappers may have a disupute and that’s acceptable. It’s also acceptable for a new mapper to come in and make mistakes (I certainly made plenty in my first few months in OSM). But where our community is less tolerant of error is where they feel the motivation of the mapper is poor.
The other reason this is important is that poorly motivated efforts shift the work back to the community. The community is build on improving others work, but when the work is done without caring about the end result, the burden on the OSM community is shifted and the community has to “take up the slack”, which moves us from being contributors to cleaning up others’ messes.
What can be done about bad user motivation? Or is there anything that can be done? Do we need to raise the bar on new user contributions, or is this just a cost of being a successful project?