This is story is based on real stories. It is not my story as a newbie, but I decided to write in the first person to avoid she/he discussions. Also, since English is not my native language, so I apologise upfront for mistakes.
I love to ride by bicycle and for plannng my trips I found those great free maps offered by OpenFietsMap. I used them during my vacation in The Netherlands and now I want to improve the map for cyclists in my hometown in Belgium.
I created an account on OpenStreetMap and quickly found out how I could launch the iD-editor. It seems pretty simple to add a separate cycleway, just as I saw on the map in The Netherlands. I think it is important to see the difference between street with and without those separate cycleways. So let's try to add them.
O great, there are arial images that I can use, so I do not have to upload tracks that I recorded with my GPS. OK, let's see, the cycleway starts here, in front of those houses. So I start drawing the line there and continue here, cross the street and it ends here in front of this parking lot. Now add some tags to it...mmm .. a name... mmm maybe "fietspad" (Cycleway in Dutch).
Ok, now the other side. Mmm, the houses that the previous mapper placed are on top of the cycleway. I'll move them so I can draw the cycleway in the correct place.
Hey, that was easy, let's save this so the others can enjoy my work. O, do I need to add a comment... mmm ... "Fietspad" will be ok I hope.
So far the first editing session from an newbie user as I see it. The user honestly tried to improve the map. But could you spot some mistakes ? Here are some
- the cycleway is not connected at start or end
- The cycleway has no intersection with the street that it crosses
- It's tagged with a name that indicates its function
- the user did not put bicycle=use_sidepath on the main street
- the user did not remove any cycleway= from the main street
- the user is unaware of relations for cycle routes on the main street that have to be placed (and splitted for the different directions) on the cycleways
- the user did not add oneway=yes on the cycleway
- using Bing images which have an offset, in Flandres we can use AGIV, much better
Not all of those mistakes are made by all newbies and maybe they make some I forgot to mention here. But that is not important for the message I want to bring. One can make many mistakes and none of the editors protect you from making no errors. Some editors protect you from some of the above errors, but many mistakes pass unnoticed.
But now dear experienced mapper,
How do you react when this happens in your neighborhood ?
- yell "vandalism" ?
- contact the DWG ?
- start complaining on a local maling list about this user that destroys all this hard work ?
- send a angry private message or changeset comment ?
- do you ally with your friends to send multiple scaring changeset comments ?
or do you take a deep breath, relax and try to write a friendly, polite message to help this newbie navigate through all the pitfalls and unwritten rules from which the editors do not protect you ? Even if you have to do this for the tenth time ?
So think for a moment how it feels to be a newbie and receive a message from some stranger about something you honestly thought was a good addition to OpenStreetMap, next time you write a comment about someone else work. Heck, even when that person is a more advanced mapper.
Happy mapping & communicating
p.s. I fear that the real story that was the basis for this one does not have an happy ending