[OSM-talk] Things People Say
frederik at remote.org
Wed Dec 28 10:21:22 GMT 2011
On 12/28/11 06:19, Michal Migurski wrote:
> Here are a few interesting snippets from that thread, and why I think
> they're worth calling out:
I'll comment on a few only.
>> According to the article, the Google "sales force" seems to leave
>> much to desire. They don't keep appointments, they can't explain
>> their product, they don't understand their client, and they
>> overprice their product.
> Google is deeply good at a lot of different things, but interaction
> with actual human beings isn't one of them. On the other hand, I've
> been snarked at on this list by influential OSMers enough times to
> acknowledge that our project isn't great at this, either. I view this
> as an opportunity for us to make a good impression, though.
Google has a sales force - people who are paid to make you use their
product. If Google brainwash their staff well enough, then it may even
be a personal goal for their staff to make you use their product; but
the second the employment contract ends, that's it.
I hope that we are all very clear on this issue - OSM does not want a
sales force. Advocates who come to like OSM and "sell" it to their
friends are of course fine!
I think that this is an attitude problem with some of the potential
users of OSM; they assume that it is our job to make them like us. "Show
me what you've got", they say. And if they're lucky there will indeed be
a local OSMer who is "on fire" and goes through some effort to show them
what is possible with OSM. But as a project, I don't think it is not our
job to reach out to users and "sell" ourselves to them.
> I believe it's time to
> remove a few fire hydrants and turning circles and bump up some font
> sizes in the service of a less-busy, more-comprehensible selection of
Doesn't MapQuest do that reasonably well, or were you thinking something
different? We already have their tiles on our www.openstreetmap.org
page, and we could easily switch the default style to use their tiles if
everyone believes they are nicer. Saves us a lot of traffic too.
But to be honest I'd prefer for tile-making to migrate more into the
hands of users so they can choose whatever style they like, rather than
everybody making (different) demands on our showcase cartography.
>> ETA: And as I go to OpenStreetMaps and see it struggle to serve me
>> a page showing my house (and showing exactly the same wrong place
>> for my house that Google Maps does, because it's using the exact
> This person is caught between the "it's a map" / "it's a project"
I think that this person is also caught between the "I'm in the USA" /
"I'm not in the USA" divide. It seems to me that while 90% of OSM
activity happens outside the US, 90% of activity in that thread comes
from inside the US, so I am not surprised at seeing a distorted image.
Nowhere in the world would someone claim that OSM was using the "exact
same data as Google", except maybe in the US. And in many European
countries a statement like "80% of my town is unmapped" would simply be
>> Also, I didn't see the option for satellite view.
This guy is clearly mistaking us for a map portal. Even if we had the
money to buy aerial imagery it would not be our mission to serve that to
the public; we're simply not interested. I'm a little tired of people
like that and I hope that by drastically reducing the amount of map on
our front page we will get rid of them. We are here to make good map
data; we're not here to indulge those who would like a map portal with
all the bells and whistles (and who, as someone else professed, cannot
be bothered to fix data in OSM when there are problems).
In my eyes, we are not aimed at "map consumers". We are, to borrow
business terms, a producer or maybe a distributor, but we're not a
retailer. Our product needs a bit of pretty packaging and customer
service added before it can compete with the consumer friendliness of
something like Google Maps; such pretty packaging and customer service
can be provided by enthusiastic individuals, or nonprofits, or
commercial entities - maybe even by other open projects. But I don't see
this on our plate.
> Setting up your own tile
> infrastructure is something that's easier now thanks to all the work
> that's gone into Mapnik, Planet replication and other tools. Can we
> make it easier in the eyes of a business, by showing how the costs
> too are predictable and doable?
I think we could, but then I don't think that we need to worry. I do
this as a business, and I am by far not the only person to do it. At the
moment the market is still small but it is only a question of time until
many other players big and small will start offering ready-made OSM tile
servers, and they will become a commodity with lots of competition.
Companies selling them will make sure that their advantages vis-a-vis a
GMaps service are well known and advertised - better, I like to think,
that we could do it ourselves. I don't think that we need to spend
valuable volunteer resources on making OSM fly commercially; we can
count on capitalism to do that for us.
More information about the talk