OpenStreetMap logo OpenStreetMap

managing an OSM-related Telegram group

Posted by mariotomo on 15 May 2021 in English. Last updated on 16 May 2021.

why this page

I’ve found myself presenting my schema for scan/spam containment on Telegram to different people, writing more or less each time the same stuff. this page summarizes the policy I developed.

why a Telegram group?

it was the path of least resistance, I started simultaneously exploring the official Wiki pages, and the official forum for Panamá, and we missed a mailing list. after a fruitless attempt at creating one, I made a “temporary” Telegram group, which is still there while I don’t think a mailing list would be of any extra value, in particular considering the activity on the talk-latam mailing list, kept alive by the weekly link to the newsletter.

where do I use this?

the Comunidad OSM Panamá and the OpenStreetMapOffTopic are the two groups I manage thanks to a @MissRose_bot administrator, with similar settings.

what is the user experience?

a new user is offered a text telling them what is the group, where they need to click on a button within a short period of time, and inviting them to provide a short message for the people already in the group. in my experience, scammers tend to join several groups at the same time, and will not care to read this invitation, so they can be kicked from the group before they come back to it.

welcome text will disappear after they have been acknowledged by the new user, or when the new user is kicked from the group. the idea is not to clutter the group with technical messages. the bot will also delete all joining and leaving notifications, which I also consider cluttering.

join and leave notifications will be logged to a parallel channel, meant for administrators or for anybody wondering about how much work it is, to administer a Telegram group.

any administrative action like banning users will be taken in a parallel group, only meant to receive commands to the bot, again reducing clutter in the group.

what tasks for the administrator?

not much.
- when a person sends an undesired PM to a group member, the group member will ask the admin to remove the person. that will happen from time to time.
- when a person does click on the “got-it” button, but obviously did not get the idea, they should be removed as well, possibly after a short PM interaction.

how to remove a person? enter the parallel “ban” group and issue an /fban message, using the id logged in the log channel.

what are the settings?


/captcha on
/captchamode button
/captcharules yes
/captchatime 2m
/captchakick yes
/setcaptchatext Got it!

goodbye & service

/cleanservice on
/goodbye off

welcome & rules

/setrules Assume and practice good faith, that should be enough. A few hints: use PM sparingly; English is customary, not mandatory; try to be nice to each other.
/setwelcome Welcome {username} to this informal unofficial OSM lounge. Talk about anything you want, join the current subject, or start a new one.
This is an automatic welcome message, however humans in this group will appreciate if you would introduce yourself. {rules}
/welcome on
/cleanwelcome on

la versión española?

/setcaptchatext Listo
/setrules Asuma y practique buena fe, no hay más reglas, y trate de ser amable el uno con el otro.
/setwelcome Hola {username}, gracias por unirte al grupo {chatname}. Como medida anti-spam, por favor contesta a este mensaje con tu nombre de usuario OSM. — Yes, we speak English! Please do reply to this message with your OSM username, it's a simple anti-spam measure.
Buen Mapeo, y ¡aquí está tu nuevo grupo!


Comment from Zverik on 16 May 2021 at 07:54

This feels really complex. Why just not people sort it out themselves? I manage @ruosm with 1200 members, no captcha and no admin bots. The key was to grant admin permissions to 2-4 more people, so that the group is always watched. We also use @mark_spam_bot, so that anybody can notify admins of spam posts.

Comment from mariotomo on 16 May 2021 at 17:47

Hi Zverik, thank you for spending time on my writing.

feels really complex

I’m happy you use the word “complex” and not “complicated”. I agree it takes a bit of setting up and getting used to. once done, I find that it flows smoothly and saves me time.

Why just not people sort it out themselves?

that’s a valid question, but it is a question to which I have no answer.

I have noticed that this won’t happen, I’ve seen several groups (ex1 - ex2 - ex3) where the presence of sleeping scammers is or was accepted by admins as a matter of fact (the one in ex3 I’m now managing with the above logic). in my personal opinion, in some cases the noise produced by scammers joining, leaving, and the administrative actions related to cleaning is so high that you have to scan deep in the group, to find the desired signal. I like the options offered by miss Rose, a bot which will stay in the background most of the time, and does not leave any permanent trace in the group unless explicitly asked for.

Log in to leave a comment