Mind your language

Posted by netman55 on 14 July 2011 in English (English)

I had a local primary interested in using OSM for part of a summer school project, but this idea has been abandoned due to foul language appearing on OSM, - OSM was deemed unsuitable for young children

Comment from Andy Allan on 14 July 2011 at 09:24

Appearing where?

Comment from Roman Fischer on 14 July 2011 at 11:27

Yeah, its hard to teach children that there are good people (aka people doing volunteer work for the society) using bad words.

And things that are hard to teach should not be tought at all... :)


Comment from Pieren on 14 July 2011 at 11:54

It's a wiki ! I fixed 3 of your list in 3 minutes. It's easy to find replacements or hide the bad words yourself...

Comment from iandees on 14 July 2011 at 11:54

It sounds like you performed searches on our wiki for words that you feel might be offensive. The pages you linked to are difficult to find and would most definitely not be touched by any students in a Summer mapping project.

The beauty of OpenStreetMap is that you can map using our tools without even looking at the wiki. I looked through our editing tools and was unable to find any potentially offensive words. If you're not comfortable with that, you don't even need to have the kids directly edit: they can draw maps on printed maps and add the data later.

Comment from iandees on 14 July 2011 at 12:39

Ah, sorry. It looks like Pink Duck did the searching. I'd be interested in hearing from the original poster where they saw offensive words. I don't think we should completely "cleanse" the project of potentially offensive words, but I do think people should feel comfortable showing OSM to kids.

Comment from netman55 on 14 July 2011 at 12:51

Comment on the User diary entry "Riga is flooded" set the alarm bells off for the teacher looking who was curious about the title. At the time the entry was near the top of the page of the user diary listing. The person involved started looking around and found more problems.
I suspect if a secondary school was involved it may not have been much of a problem but for a Church of England primary it was too much.

Comment from craigloftus on 14 July 2011 at 14:30

I'd rather hoped it was going to be someone complaining about rude place names. The reality is slightly disappointing. I've often thought that schools would be great places to run local mapping parties. For example, there were hundreds of teenagers out surveying in the southern Lake District last week as part of their GCSE coursework.

I think the only vaguely long term approach is to use the same method as with 'offensive' mappers? E.g. Contact each one and politely suggest that we're trying to foster a broad community and some people will be rightly or wrongly put off by causal swearing.

I swear casually all the time, but I don't think I would in a comment or mailing list, and never in documentation! ;)

Comment from Richard on 14 July 2011 at 16:50

Slightly surprised that, if the school is that fussed about such content in what is, after all, a fairly obscure area of the site, it hasn't installed competent filtering software. (I write as the husband of a primary school ICT subject co-ordinator and former LA primary ICT advisor!)

But language aside, I wouldn't say is particularly suitable for primary kids anyway, other than the most gifted. It's simply too complex a site. Anna tried it at a couple of schools a few years back, and effectively the only way it could work was by involving the kids heavily in the survey aspect, but for the actual editing to be strongly teacher-led.

Ideally one would build a separate app/site that talked to the API, with the kids' edits going through moderation (and change merging) before upload. That would also make it feasible to have one single account rather than one per child.

Comment from Skippern on 15 July 2011 at 00:53

Interesting/offensive place names, should that be sensured? Will it be fair to the few houndred people living in Hell to erase that name off the map? Hell have a train station with regular services, and there are an international airport next to Hell. I guess there are thousand more examples like this, I am unfortienately not able to give you a link, but guess a nominatim search would give you many interesting results.

Comment from Zartbitter on 15 July 2011 at 09:21

Please don't do any censorship based on your language and based on a limited understanding of the world! There are legal and not offensive uses of words which might appear offensive to English speaking people. E.g. or

Comment from Marc Sch├╝tz on 15 July 2011 at 12:09

The idea that swearing is in any way bad for children is not supported by empirical evidence, just as the general notion of "good" and "bad" words is completely irrational.

Some people just seem to have an obsession to push their absurd ideas on other people. If they don't like places where swearing takes place, they should go elsewhere. I'd prefer a community without bigots over one without swearing.

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