OSMF membership numbers by country 2019

Posted by imagico on 21 November 2019 in English.

Last year Joost provided some interesting statistics on the OSMF membership numbers by country and how these relate to mapping activity. In other words: How far the OSMF membership in their geographic distribution represents the active mapping community.

Since it is interesting to see how this changed since last year i asked the MWG to provide the data on this and Pascal was so nice to provide yearly statistics on the active mapper numbers

Two things that need to be stated in advance:

  • i asked for the numbers on members eligible for this year’s elections but this is of course still subject to change since quite a few memberships expire around this time of the year and possible participation of mappers depends on if they renew their membership or not.
  • Pascal’s numbers for active mappers per country are only semi-reliable of course. They only tell us about where mappers are active, not where they come from. And it does not tell if those mappers are part of a genuine local community or if they are just paid to map in that specific country.

So all this needs to be taken with a grain of salt but none the less how things have changed since last year is something interesting to look at.

In addition to the values Joost calculated last year i also added another column for the absolute member count mismatch - i.e. how many additional members or too few members come from a certain country compared to what would be a proportional representation of the active mapper community.

The numbers

Here are the numbers for the top 45 countries sorted by OSMF member count (first) and sorted by active mapper count (second, that is the equivalent to what Joost showed last year).

For explanation of the columns:

  • OSMF members number of OSMF members from that country (both normal and associate) according to data provided by the MWG
  • Mappers/day average number of mappers from that country active per day according to Pascal’s statistics
  • osmf rate OSMF members per mapper in percent
  • expected expected number of OSMF members from that country assuming proportional representation and same total member count
  • representation percentage of actual representation compared to expected (100 indicates proportional representation)
  • mismatch difference between expected and actual number of OSMF members, negative values indicate too few members for proportional representation

sorted by OSMF member count

sorted by mapper count

In the second table countries with only one or zero OSMF members don’t have the actual member count shown for privacy reasons (though i am not sure if that is necessary since the OSMF membership lists can be accessed on request anyway).

You can also get that in SocialCalc format (to be used on Ethercalc or Framacalc via clipboard) or in CSV format.

What can we see from this year’s numbers?

  • first the over-representation of the United States and the United Kingdom has slightly decreased while the over-representation of Germany, France and other continental European countries has slightly increased. This difference is fairly small though so considering the factors mentioned above this might not be that significant. Anyway - if this is actually a meaningful trend this would be positive because it reduces the over-representation of native English speakers.
  • What is more significant is that with India for the first time a country outside of Europe and North America has significantly closed the gap in proportional representation. The question is of course how many of the OSMF members from India have signed up for membership in connection with their professional career - but this is nothing you can determine from the data.
  • The under-representation of various countries with very active mapper communities has increased significantly. Last year i mentioned Russia, Poland and Japan. Russia’s representation has decreased from 29 percent to 11 percent. This is quite enormous, for proportional representation there would need to be 41 additional OSMF members from Russia - by far the largest value in the whole table. The full list of countries with more than 10 OSMF members too few is: Russia (41), Poland (23), Indonesia (21), Ukraine (14/15), Japan (13), Brazil (13), China (11/12) and Tanzania (10/11). In some of these countries (in particular China and Tanzania) the mapper numbers could of course contain a significant number of remote mappers from abroad.

Fee waiver members

I also got the numbers on members who made use of the fee waivers and their regional distribution. We have:

  • 12 from Europe (7 of these from Kosovo)
  • 10 from Africa
  • 9 from Asia
  • 3 from Latin America
  • 1 from North America

Overall it seems that the increase in relative numbers of both active mappers and OSMF members from regions outside Europe and North America is relatively similar overall so the dominance of Europe and North America in the OSMF w.r.t. proportional representation is not increasing. But it is still quite strong of course.

All of this does not consider how many of either mappers and OSMF members are hobbyists and how many have a professional connection to OSM. Likewise it is worth considering that also non-mapping community members should be included in the idea of proportional representation.

It is my hope that with the universal fee waiver for active mappers that hopefully will start next year (see my diary entry on the vote for that) and that will allow mappers to become OSMF members without paying a fee and without the need to claim to be needy that the significant under-representation of large local communities will decrease.


Comment from dieterdreist on 24 November 2019 at 15:48

very interesting, although I believe it would be more informative to have the total of different editing users per country and year put into relation with the OSMF membership, because it is a big difference if these 500 users a day are the same as those the next day, or are different ones.

Comment from joost schouppe on 24 November 2019 at 15:52

I live it when I don’t have to do the same thing twice. Thanks for picking this up Christoph. One note: MWG has the practice to censor small numbers of OSMF by country, because it becomes a bit too easy to quess which person could be behind that number. BTW, MWG member Thomas was also working on some similar stats, not sure when he’ll be able to publish them

Comment from imagico on 24 November 2019 at 16:27

I have not shown if a country accounts for zero or one OSMF members. I had a short exchange with Michael about that after publication and he mentioned that they would have liked to also anonymize up to two members but agreed that it makes little sense to remove the information after it has been published so i kept it. If that is made a general policy i have no problem with that.

By the way - the most work intensive part about this kind of data processing are different forms of country names and matching them. :-(

@dieterdreist - there are a lot of very interesting possibilities of other measures for the mapping community activities in a certain country. In particular i would like to see statistics that exclude all accounts that have less than something like five active mapping days to only consider serious mappers and exclude all the typical SEO spam throw away accounts.

Comment from joost schouppe on 24 November 2019 at 17:45

The “best” measure would be based on the home location I’d say. There’s only a few users that set that themselves, but Pascal’s hdyc profile makes a very good guess by way of the “main activity area”. I’d like to see some stats based on that. And as you suggest, only including users with at least a few mapping days would be good.

Comment from joost schouppe on 24 November 2019 at 18:01

Can’t help myself but play around with the numbers. I put your stats together with mine from last year. Here’s the growth rate of daily mappers by country for the top 20.


Comment from Heather Leson on 24 November 2019 at 18:37

Thanks for this. Is it possible to get the numbers of renews, churn (not renewed) and the rates by country?


Comment from imagico on 24 November 2019 at 19:12

I have only asked for and therefore only received numbers on current paid up memberships.

In general the more specific additional data is the more serious potential privacy concerns are. It is ultimately up to the MWG what to release but i would be a bit concerned about that.

Things that i would find interesting are:

  • the post election numbers for the same thing, i.e. who was actually ultimately eligible to vote.
  • data on the seniority of members (i.e. how long the members from the different countries have been member) - when rounded down to full years this would probably not be too problematic.

The last one would provide information on how large fluctuations in membership are in an integrated fashion which is less hairy than looking at the rates.

Comment from LivingWithDragons on 3 December 2019 at 18:04

So what are we doing “right” in Russia?

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