imagico has commented on the following diary entries

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How does the OpenStreetMap community perceive gender equality? 1 day ago

You have correctly pointed out that those who participated in your survey are not representative for the OSM community but i am somewhat astonished about your comment regarding the nature of the selectivity. Could you point us to some examples where people have voiced in forums/lists the opinion that "gender inequality in the community is not a problem"? I understand this kind of depends on your definition of "gender inequality" and "problem" but my impression is that it is at least very rare that people think it would not be good if there were more women among mappers than there are at the moment. I do not remember any case where on forums or mailing lists such an opinion was voiced, especially no case where this was not quickly met with strong disagreement.

A more methodological comment - like often with surveys you probably have the problem of separating indirect influences from what you actually want to find out (i.e. the differences between men and women how they experience certain things). It is for example not unlikely that the women and men who participated in your survey are on average of different age, different socio-economic background or have a different level of experience with OSM. If such differences are large they could significantly affect the results in ways that are unrelated to what you actually want to determine (the differences between men and women). Have you included questions in your survey that allow assessment of such indirect influences?

In case of the hostility related questions i am missing the symmetric counterparts of the questions you listed results for. In particular the percentage of men who have felt hostility from other men in their community. That would provide important reference points to the numbers you give.

The apparent higher 'sensitivity' of men to the unbalanced gender representation is an interesting observation but could be due to the indirect influences i mentioned above.

RoboSat — robots at the edge of space! 12 days ago

Glad to see you are following the first of my list of suggestions here - i hope you will also work on the other points.

I am also glad to read that you consider the main application of this not to be generating geometries for mapping (for which the examples you showed also quite clearly would not be the most suitable use cases). So i would scratch the "polygon recommendations for them" part of your scenarios. In particular for buildings this will likely fail miserably when done based on AI methods alone in many cases - in particular when you train not for exactly the same image (same viewing angle and same sun position) as you run it on. And in practical mapping fixing a bad geometry is often more time consuming than drawing a correct one from scratch.

I also have my doubts that post-mapping QA and remote sensing data assessment use cases as you described can much profit from this kind of method because you might end up with mostly evaluating your algorithm and its shortcomings rather than the data you want to evaluate. But this will remain to be seen.

What i can imagine to be a suitable application is some needle-in-a-haystack problems we have in mapping. Like: We have a city with 250 amenity=parking mapped - find the five ones that are missing and the five other ones that have significantly changed in size. This is a type of problem that will become increasingly important as OSM matures and reaches a high level of completeness in some aspects.

Updates to New Turkmenbashy International Seaport and New Turkmenbashy Wiki Page 27 days ago

Coastline editing is actually not that difficult, especially if you only move and add nodes. What can be irritating is that you do not get an immediate update in the map (and in the past two months the coastline updates were completely stuck).

So the main rules for coastline editing are: Don't break it and ignore how it looks on the map. Useful visual feedback you can get from the OSM Inspector water view (with 1-2 days delay):

Updates to New Turkmenbashy International Seaport and New Turkmenbashy Wiki Page 28 days ago

By the way east of Turkmenbashy is one of the largest errors in the coastline data in OpenStreetMap at the moment with the position being off in parts more than 20km. The current mapping of the coastline in the area dates back about seven years ( and was nothing more than a quick sketch even back then.

Variable water levels of the Caspian Sea make mapping a bit tricky but there is plenty of interesting and severely undermapped geography there - like:

Mapbox Satellite for Machine Learning about 1 month ago

And the question of all questions which has been asked many times by the OSM community for many years remains: when will Mapbox provide metadata for their satellite images?

It is after all not that automated analysis would not profit from knowing about date and time of acquisition (and preferably also sun and viewing direction) to correctly interpret images.

Not Yours, OpenStreetMap about 1 month ago

@Mikel - you need to be more tolerant towards people you disagree with. Ilya is expressing his feelings about certain things here. There is nothing wrong with that no matter how baseless and insane you consider these feelings to be. If you disagree go ahead and argue on the point, write a piece on your own expressing how you think OSM is on a good path. And let people decide which arguments they find more convincing. But what you do here, trying to discredit Ilya's impressions and feelings with personal insults and without any arguments on the matter is neither productive nor appropriate.

Fortunately you are not representative for the OSM community but if you were i would probably agree with Ilya's assessment of the situation much more. Your reaction represents exactly the points of critique Ilya seems to refer to in his recent remarks.

If you don't give much on my opinion here take a cue from Andy or Blake who did the appropriate thing and expressed their views and feelings in a respectful form.

Map internationalization launched everywhere, AND embedded maps now live on 276 Wikipedias about 1 month ago

It is unfortunate that you choose not to use automatic transliterations (as suggested here) and thereby encourage your users to add non-verifiable transliterations to the OSM database.

Sven Geggus has done a lot of work in this field you could build on although i kind of suspect this is not primarily due to technical difficulties but due to the cultural differences between Wikipedia and OSM - in other words: That Wikipedia sees the addition of non-verifiable transliterations to the OSM database as a positive thing that is good to encourage.

Regarding map design - this might be of interest. I find it quite noticeable that although Wikipedia has a lot of competence and experience in map design for screen use - see for example

which gained it quite a bit of respect and recognition even outside the project i cannot really recognize much of this is the new interactive maps. Was there any substantial design discussion for this map regarding the embedded applications you introduce here?

Not Yours, OpenStreetMap about 2 months ago

@Mikel - not sure why you want to make this about me. This is about a broad educated discourse on key topics in the OSM community as a whole. If i individually can contribute something of value to that does not really make much of a difference in the grand scheme of things.

I don't think there is anything wrong with suggesting to corporations to exercise some humility. But i don't want to hijack this discussion with an unrelated topic. So i will leave it at that.

Not Yours, OpenStreetMap about 2 months ago

This is not something you can expect the corporate players in the OSM world to substantially contribute to.

Well that's uninformed. Corporate players are very interested in this and have a lot to bring to the table.

It might be a good idea to carefully read what i wrote and not just read what you want to read in order to be able to dismiss it.

I think the world wide track record of corporations in contributing to public education and intellectual discourse in their respective domains (and i am not talking about providing courses to use their product here, i am talking about discourse that questions and refines the foundations of the field and about substantial education instilling true competence in people) speaks for itself.

If you want a bit of advise what corporations could actually do towards contributing here: Practice some humility. Accepting and appreciating that others might be more competent and more qualified in communicating knowledge and abilities to others is hard for competitive corporations that maybe even aim to be a market leader. But it is an essential step towards substantially contributing to intellectual discourse and education.

Note this is absolutely no statement about the abilities of people working for corporations in the OSM context to individually contribute to this. No individual community member needs to feel criticized by my statement.

Not Yours, OpenStreetMap about 2 months ago

I don't agree with your analysis and conclusions in a lot of points but i none the less want to comment on a few things:

You are complaining about OSM sticking too much to the status quo but don't forget that successful corporations like Google have no more important goal than maintaining the status quo in the form of their success. New products, overhauls and stuff like this are not ends in themselves for such corporations, they are means to an end, namely to maintain the status quo.

You are complaining about the lack of control over various things. Have you actually thought through a scenario where some effective means of exercising power and control over these things is established? Does this scenario realistically lead to a positive development in the long term? I agree that a lot of people involved in the OSM community are often opposed to radical changes - but they often have good reasons for this. OSM is meanwhile a project where a lot of very massive economic as well as collective personal interests play in. A lot of these interests are articulated by people who - to put it in a friendly way - are not the most intelligent people who are often looking after their own short term gains rather than the long term common good. An experienced community member who sees this and therefore advises caution against suggestions to make major changes to satisfy perceived short term needs will more likely be swayed by arguments that are based on a realistic appraisal of the long term outcome than by a sweeping critique of being against change.

A few examples:

Tagging: The most powerful forces trying to influence tagging practice in OSM at the moment are the desire to cater very specific applications (in the sense not of tagging for rendering maps in general but for making life easy for a specific design idea in a specific map or for a specific geocoding or routing application) and the dissatisfaction with inconvenient overall rules in OSM (in particular the on-the-ground rule and verifiability) that prevent you from mapping the world as you subjectively see it rather than as it can be objectively observed. If you'd somehow establish a means to exercise more control over tagging these interests would most likely be the ones fighting over having this control and not the considerate voices in the community (which exist) who would like to establish sane and efficient tagging principles and would like to weed out unsuitable ideas and who at the moment also have difficulties achieving that. Many of these people see the status quo simply as the lesser of two evils.

Map styling: Note i am talking about just design here, not the underlying technological basis. What is needed here is not more control but less control. Having a single central map style for the whole project that is controlled by a small group of people (currently effectively two active ones + 2-3 who occasionally also make decisions) who are almost completely autonomous in their decisions is about the maximum of control you can have IMO. I cannot really imagine how you can have more control here - other than maybe giving those in decision making position the money to pay people for doing work - in other words: Going the Wikipedia way.

It is also not true that nobody knows where to go next in OSM map design. There are plenty of people who have good ideas, talent and vision in that regard. But like in case of tagging the most powerful interests acting in this field are not the most qualified ones. So giving control to those who most loudly ask for it would be extremely counterproductive. Those who would be best qualified for a role of leadership in map design are not the people who would ask for it.

What we desperately need in map styling is more diversity and more competition of ideas and concepts. And more appreciation for actual innovation instead of change for the sake of changing things.

So in summary: Yes, there are a lot of fields where some changes would be good but the tricky thing and the reason why many reasonable people are opposed to just changing things is that it is clear that it will be very difficult to make sure that the changes are actually going in a direction that benefits the project in the long term. The question therefore is not how we can change things but how we make sure change goes in a beneficial direction for the community in the long term.

I think your last paragraph has a lot of merit. OSM has grown massively in data and number of contributors over the last years but growth in competence of people, experience and knowledge of the broad community in what forms the basis of this project, tagging (i.e. data representation of geography), cartography and other things, has not kept up with this. We need a broad and open but ambitious and thoughtful discourse about these kind of topics (in contrast to the cacophony of spontaneous and not well thought through opinions that is all too frequent these days) and this depends on broad education. And to be clear: This is not something you can expect the corporate players in the OSM world to substantially contribute to.

OSM Awards as a thermometer on diversity in the mapping community 4 months ago

@Dzertanoj - a lack of diversity is not necessarily the result of concrete obstacles or conscious discrimination. The personal choice of people to contribute to OSM is not exclusively the result of personal preferences but also a matter of appearance of the project to the potential contributor. In other words: If women are on average less likely to be interested in mapping and open geodata no one should try to pressure any women to participate in OSM despite a lack of personal interest just to improve the numbers (although you can of course still try to incite such interest in general education in schools etc.). But if women who are in general interested in the matter do not find OSM appealing to participate in that is something we can and should work on.

OSM is in principle in a relatively good position here because of its decentralized nature and its focus on local mapping and local communities. People who do not feel represented by existing structures in OSM - because of cultural differences, language, gender or anything else - can create their own structures that better satisfy their needs and can still be an active part of the project. But people newly getting to know OSM are often not aware of this, we need to communicate it better and need to extend it outside the world of mapping (like tools development and maps) where OSM is in reality much more centralized and less open obviously.

Improving diversity is always primarily about increasing awareness. Despite OSM being a global project that tries to be open to anyone you can see every day in tagging discussions, map style development etc. that many community members are largely unaware what a global project really means in terms of diversity in cultural and social background etc.

OSM Awards as a thermometer on diversity in the mapping community 4 months ago

I think you are right that the OSM awards as they are implemented right now are not very good in supporting diversity but i would not focus this exclusively on gender equality since equal chances for different genders is not the most tricky thing to get right regarding diversity in such awards.

After the first OSM awards i pointed out that language and culture diversity is a big problem with those. While the gender diversity problem in the awards is mostly about structural discrimination in the process of nomination and voting (either conscious or not) the language and culture diversity problem is primarily about the lack of ability to assess contributions in nomination and voting across language and culture barriers.

As you know there are no really reliable numbers of the percentage of women in the mapping community overall but it seems likely that by mere numbers there is not really much bias in the nomination process (which according to your numbers results in 10-11 percent women). You need to keep in mind however that the nomination process is already two stages - free nomination by the community and selection of the final five nominees by committee. The numbers for the winners are surely too small to be statistically significant but intuitively it seems likely that there is structural bias in that (i.e. on average male community members are less likely to vote for female nominees).

Another thing to keep in mind is that quite a few of the nominees in the OSM awards tend to be nominated for work they do as part of their jobs (something that has been a point of critique on its own as well) - and in many of these jobs there is a significant gender imbalance already outside of OSM. Limiting the awards to hobby mappers and other hobby community members could make it easier to create a balanced award system because it would be less tied to discrimination outside of OSM.

Why I need OpenStreetMap 4 months ago

Regarding 'bitrot' (or in other words: the problem of outdated information) - it seems that typically OSM has a significant advantage over official mapping institutions in this field in many areas. But this is to a significant part because OSM is simply as a whole much younger than these institutions. In the future managing the transit from initial data acquisition (where the majority of edits add new data) to data maintenance (where the majority of edits update or correct existing data) is one of the big challenges of the future for OSM. We know this is possible - primarily from a few mostly urban areas where this is happening right now already but we also know that OSM currently is much better at initial data acquisition than at data maintenance which is likely in the future going to lead to significant volumes of essentially unmaintained data.

How are you "supposed" to map landuse? 4 months ago

A few things to consider:

  • Anyone can create a page like on the wiki - such pages are not in any way authoritative.
  • There is no authority in OSM that tells you how to map things. The tag pages (like are meant for documenting use of tags but do not always do so accurately.
  • In OSM you should only map what is observable on the ground. This contrasts strongly with typical landuse or landcover classification systems elsewhere which are based on assigning the least unlikely class to every point on the earth surface. You should not do that in OSM because that would devalue information on landuse that has been positively identified by mappers on the ground.
  • If you have an area you can positively identify as a certain landuse but there is no existing tag in OSM to describe it you should invent a new tag and document it.
  • If there is an area you can not verifiably attribute in a uniform way there is no need to map it at all.

So specifically: If you have an area where grain or other non-permanent crops are grown you can map it as landuse=farmland. If you have an area with residential buildings you can map it landuse=residential. If you do so diligently (i.e. making sure there are no larger areas that are not farmland or residential within the area you map) the areas you can uniformly map this way are usually fairly small. If they are larger it makes sense to map them in smaller parts (split at sensible lines) for easy maintainance.

AI With Satellite Images for OpenStreetMap 4 months ago

Basically, anything that is visible in a satellite image is now going to be able to be identifiable via software at the same level of accuracy as an “armchair” mapper.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

At the same time this statement is fairly demeaning for OSM mappers who - in the majority - map with a high level of competence and consideration. Comparing this to the crude mechanically trained monkey style algorithms commonly advertised as 'AI' these days demonstrates either a severe misunderstanding of the work of mappers in OSM or a similarily wrong understanding of how these algorithms work.

Religious belief in AI as the solution to any and all problems of mapping will not make these algorithms work any better or make them more useful for mapping in OSM.

About another OSMF board meeting 5 months ago

You do state that you don't want to speculate, but then you do go on to speculate. You speculate "it is not clear if these are favours given in return for money". This is what led me to call you out for peddling conspiracy theories.

I think you are confusing speculation (in the sense of considering an unproven assumption to be true) with skepticism. Citing the paragraph in question as a whole:

Is delaying the announcement of a donation or inflating the importance of Missing Maps in OSM something that harms OSM? Maybe not. But because it is not clear if these are favours given in return for the money it certainly makes it less likely that people take things the OSMF board says at face value, i.e. it has a negative effect on credibility.

This argument does not hinge on the assumption that favours are given in return for the money (i.e. speculation), it is based on the uncertainty if they are (i.e. scepticism, not assuming something unproven to be true).

Another general remark regarding your style of communication in this discussion - i found your focus on specific words and use of language in contrast to focusing on the underlying reasoning and arguments which are independent of the specific words used (both in your replies to me and the analysis of Dale Kunce's remarks and context) problematic. Most people in the OSM community are not native English speakers and it is mostly a courtesy to you and other English speakers if they write in English. But there are many who feel deterred by the prospect of what they write being dissected into individual words and phrases which are then evaluated without giving consideration to the reasoning and arguments they are embedded in.

About another OSMF board meeting 5 months ago


I think i made it very clear that i do not want to speculate on matters i have no insight into.

If you want to ignore my advise that the way things have been handled is not good for the credibility of the board and how this can be improved that is your choice. I think i explained my reasoning well enough so that anyone with an open mind would either be able to follow my reasoning or point out where my reasoning is flawed (so we could have a productive discussion like i had for example with Peda and Kate).

But i am not sure what you are trying to achieve with diverting into baseless and unrelated accusations. If that is an attempt to bully me into not speaking my mind in the future - that is not going to work.

About another OSMF board meeting 5 months ago


I don't know the contractual details between the OSMF and the American Red Cross and i don't know what exactly is the chain of events that resulted in the timing of the announcement of the donation - nor why Martijn wrote the blog post in the form it was published. Therefore i don't want to speculate on these things. But the board should be aware that if they generally feel that they should aim to "give something back" for donations as long as it does not directly harm the goals of the OSMF people will look at actions of the board with that in mind and will wonder if things the board does are motivated by inherent interests of the OSM project and the community or of they are primarily in the interest of donors.

Is delaying the announcement of a donation or inflating the importance of Missing Maps in OSM something that harms OSM? Maybe not. But because it is not clear if these are favours given in return for the money it certainly makes it less likely that people take things the OSMF board says at face value, i.e. it has a negative effect on credibility.

Which i think brings us well back to the topic since credibility of the board was my main point regarding the subject in relation to which i mentioned the donation - i.e. the taking a stand agenda item.

Having clear policies on such matters, being transparent and avoiding organizational secrets as much as possible - and in this case: taking a clear stand on demeaning statements made in public by people with some connection to OSMF business are all ways to make it easier to maintain credibility.

About another OSMF board meeting 5 months ago

Thanks for the comment and the additional perspective.

I assume you are referring to me pointing out that Peda is the only real hobby mapper with no professional relationship to OSM on the board. This is being said in the context of cultural diversity. With that in mind i think this is still a valid assessment because IMO what primarily defines my cultural background is not what i am doing right now but what i have done in the past.

When you are currently looking for work you are probably primarily looking for something where your past professional experience (which includes OSM) can be valuable - even if the work is not directly OSM related - just like Paul and Frederik will do work for customers that is not related to OSM. Peda however (who as you probably know started a new job last year) has no such OSM related professional background. This IMO gives him a unique perspective among the current board members.

But my point ultimately is not to argue who of the board members is the one that can most meaningfully speak for the OSM community - this would inappropriately reduce a highly multi-dimensional question to an arbitrary single dimension. I wanted to point out that the bandwidth of cultural backgrounds on the board is small so that even the most 'off-band' member (be that Peda or anyone else) is still very much mainstream compared to the bandwidth of backgrounds that exist in the OSM community.

And i am sure most of the current board members do at least occasionally perform recreational mapping.

About another OSMF board meeting 5 months ago

I looked through the minutes and found the following face-to-face meetings:

  • 2010-01-23
  • 2010-12-11
  • 2011-06-11
  • 2011-11-04
  • 2015-02-16
  • 2016-05-28
  • 2016-09-25
  • 2017-05-20

I missed the 2015 one when writing this post but anyway there seems to be a distinct gap and therefore speaking of a regular feature does not seem quite right.

I think this also kind of relates to the matter of conservativism i mentioned in the end - if you do things out of tradition or of you do things because there are at the moment convincing arguments to do them.