[OSM-dev] finding OSM users by their home locations

Jochen Topf jochen at remote.org
Sun May 31 07:35:27 BST 2009

On Sun, May 31, 2009 at 01:41:39AM -0400, Russ Nelson wrote:
> The OSM webserver will tell you the ten people with home locations  
> closest to your home location.  It would be useful to be able to get  
> more than that, for the purpose of inviting people to attend mapping  
> parties so they can become more effective and enthusiastic OSM  
> contributors.  If you move your home location to the location of the  
> mapping party, you can get ten people, and if you move it around some  
> more, you can get more than just those ten.
> So, being intolerant of boring, repetitive activities, I've written a  
> program to find OSM users by their home location.  You give it a  
> lat,lon, and the radius in degrees of the circle in which you want to  
> find people, and it repeatedly changes your home location until it's  
> gotten everyone.
> Is this program a good thing or a bad thing?  If it's a good thing,  
> then great, I'll use it.  If it's a bad thing, then how do we stop  
> other people less cooperative than myself from writing the same program?

There are two issues here: First, the issue of server overload etc. This
could be solved simply by creating regular dumps of users with their home
locations. Kind of like the planet dumps. Its easier for users of the
data and easier on the database.

The other issue is privacy. Yes, people have willingly added a home
location, but it is different if you get bulk access to this. I don't
see this as a big issue considering that the home location is voluntary
and that much more information about users is available from the main
body of data itself, namely not only a home location but all the places
they have ever edited data. But some people may not like this.

And while we are on the topic: I think home location is a bit limiting.
How about giving users the option to add an (unlimited) number of
locations, maybe not as a point but as a bounding box and tag them.
And make it explicit that this information is public. Users can use this
to mark their home (location=home) or workplace (location=work). Or they
can express an interest in some area (interest=changes). Applications
external to the core can read this information and do things with it,
such as producing personalized feeds of changes.

Jochen Topf  jochen at remote.org  http://www.remote.org/jochen/  +49-721-388298

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