A look into a sample of edits from MAPS.ME contributors

Posted by manoharuss on 14 July 2016 in English (English).

TLDR: Most contributions from MAPS.ME editor are constructive and has significantly increased new contributors to the map. With any new tool, there are common mistakes that is made, many of which could be easily prevented by simple improvements to the editor and awareness for the users. __________________________________________

MAPS.ME is quickly becoming a popular way to contribute to OpenStreetMap, with over 250,000 changes within 3 months of launching the map editing feature.

Following recent reports of bad edits, we decided to review a random sample of changesets in detail last week to understand the quality of contributions from this new editor.


  • Changesets reviewed: 215
  • Problematic changesets: 8
  • Minor issues: 19 (Raw notes)
  • No obvious issues: 188

Problematic changesets

Looking at these changesets in detail can give some insights on what improvements could be made to help new mappers contribute constructively to the map:

  1. User added a castle that do not exist which was later deleted by another user.
  2. User added a lot “artworks”. A community member commented on the changeset but the user did not reply yet.
  3. User added 211 hardware shops. I have commented on the changeset but did not get a reply.
  4. User added a duplicate POI. A community member commented but did not get a reply.
  5. User added 29 tourism=viewpoint tags to all kinds of things. I commented on the changeset.
  6. Department stores everywhere looked like this. I commented on this changeset. screenshot 2016-07-08 11 50 19

  7. User added tourism=viewpoint tags to 23 nodes in one area. I commented on this.
  8. User added 40 tourism=caravan_site tags to nodes along the roads. So when I opened it, it looked like this. screenshot 2016-07-08 21 04 54 This was captured in this Russian forum and was later cleaned-up.


For monitoring and reverting changes from MAPS.ME contributors, Ilya Zverev has made a convenient web tool , and a reverting tool to track and fix edits by country. In the monitoring tool, one can see the latest edits and tags edited, and also mass revert multiple changesets. The revert tool allows easy revertion of a list of changeset ids.

What are your thoughts on the editor?

From: Chetan, Krishna & Manohar

Comment from SomeoneElse on 14 July 2016 at 14:13

Thanks - it’s always useful to get some actual numbers and examples to look at rather than the “truthiness”-based opinions that have been expressed so far.

Comment from Piskvor on 14 July 2016 at 14:22

Thanks a lot - the situation is apparently much better than it appeared. Great work!

Comment from Glassman on 14 July 2016 at 15:20

New users not responding to changeset comments is pretty common, not just MAPS.ME users. I did have one recently respond. They were attempting to add a waterfall. Unfortunately MAPS.ME doesn’t have waterfall tags, so it was tagged as an attraction, and not as a node on the waterway.

They did respond, but never took the suggestion of using iD to fix their edit.

Which brings up the issue of tracking of open changeset comments. Would be nice if there were and easy way see changesets with discussions.

Comment from BushmanK on 14 July 2016 at 18:01

To be precise, intention of my diary entry you’ve mentioned wasn’t to report specific bad edits (in that case, I would do the same as you did - gather statistics and present it), but to address current fundamental issues, systematically leading to certain types of mistakes.

Comparing amount good edits with bad ones doesn’t disprove the fact of negative demotivating effect of large amount of bad edits on responsible contributors, which can’t be measured by analyzing OSM database statistics. Negative responses, including quite expressive ones, can be found in changeset comments, forum, mail list and diary postings. Which didn’t happen that often previously, because, thanks to its popularity, generates larger absolute amount of edits and proportionally large amount of bad ones.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 15 July 2016 at 06:31

Very small number of changesets for good analysis. Maybe that is the reason why results are so different than noted by experienced mappers. It could also be that you simply did not have experience to understand where the problems actually are. You did not present a list of “ok” changesets.

My results from >200 changesets in Lithuania:

  • 50% total rubbish - non existing points, adding russian names, adding addresses to names, adding artworks or castles for “my home” or “a place to meet”
  • 40% more or less clear idea of what was being mapped but it was mapped incorrectly: position hundreds of meters away, duplicate objects etc.
  • 10% more or less ok edits (tags have to be fixed, missing information added, but otherwise ok)

With only 10% of more or less good edits and 0% of edits which could go through without wasting any time of experienced mappers there is a big question if it is better to waste time fixing or it is more practical to simply revert mediocre changes.

Comment from GOwin on 15 July 2016 at 08:53

Are users notified of any private messages from their OSM accounts within the app? How about notifications about changeset comments?

I tried the app a few times, but not extensively. The good looking renderer is nice to have, but I prefer a different mobile app, so I don’t know the answer to the questions above.

Comment from SomeoneElse on 15 July 2016 at 11:00

@GOwin If their email in OSM is properly configured, they should see that. However if they used a throwaway email address to sign up, or one that they don’t check often, then they won’t. For lots of people today email isn’t the default communications mechanism.

If you want to suggest an explicit check for OSM messages within MAPS.ME, then you’ll need to suggest that to MAPS.ME (via github and/or email).

Personally I tend to use changeset discussion comments over PMs as they’re public, and other people can see what’s been commented on, but obviously that depends on working email.

Comment from BushmanK on 15 July 2016 at 14:39

@GOwin, no, the aren’t - if they don’t check that email, used for registration, there is no way to contact them. And it happens often - people, who prefer social networks over “traditional” communication methods, don’t really care about emails. But the problem is larger, since some of them don’t even have an idea that by editing something, they becoming a part of community. And comments with certain demands and suggestions seem strange and unwanted for them. Basically, they are unaware of community and not necessarily want to be a part of it, since is a navigation app they using, nothing more.

@SomeoneElse, that suggestions was given to Zverik several times.

Comment from Zverik on 15 July 2016 at 15:14

Tomas, there was 460 changesets made with in Lithuania. So you claim that nearly half of edits in your country are bad. The change stream looks okay, besides maybe some edits by ЮрийИ. If your problem with that particular user, or with all edits made with

GOwin, every user editing with is registered using their validated e-mail address. So they are definitely getting all messages. But as it is often the case with newbies, they may be a bit scared to answer, especially if they are met with a rude welcome.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 15 July 2016 at 16:05

ЮрийИ is one of few who have made numerous edits, but he is not the only one with problem edits. From those in the first page of change stream with clearly rubbish: Totmorgan, Tetukas007. (I’m not counting notes, those are ok anyway, because somebody will review them anyway). In previous two months I have deleted/reverted more than 100 changesets from mapsme users so it is clearly more than those 4% stated in this blog post.

Comment from dieterdreist on 22 July 2016 at 16:57

I agree with the analysis of Tomas Straupis, from my experience the edits with really nothing to criticize are more in the 5-10% range, while the rest has more or less severe issues, including changing name tags to localized names, creating duplicate features (for both, node and area features creating duplicate nodes is quite common), creating features without classification (just a name and maybe a tag that says nothing, like tourism=attraction), adding housenumbers to areas that are much bigger than to where the number actually applies, bad positioning of objects (in areas where buildings are mapped and displayed in you shouldn’t put the features (like hotels and restaurants) right between 2 buildings or in the middle of the road), or bad classification (e.g. B&B added as hotel or hostel), and bad formatting (of phone numbers, website urls, addresses, etc.). Very few of them are actual vandalism, most of them seem to stem from little knowledge how stuff works in OSM and little time dedicated to perform the edit.

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