[OSM-dev] Am I alone here?

Sandor Seres sandors39 at gmail.com
Wed Mar 5 15:11:34 UTC 2014

I am afraid I am irritating you folks with my focus on errors in the OSM
source data. If so, I just apologize for that in advance. Of course, as in
the science and research generally, it is much more attractive to work on
something new than working on something already done. OSM community is no
exception and maybe therefore there is very little effort dedicated to
errors, especially to systematic errors. Systematic errors are having same,
or similar causes. They are present in a huge number and distributed all
over the World. It is difficult to see them, detect them and correct/repair
them. Usual editors based one-by-one correction is meaningless. The
"DO-ocracy" principle does not work here and "diff"s based maintenance does
not help either. These errors are accumulating, and (probably) permanently
there and reflected in any publicly available OSM based mapping systems. 

One could say - he must be wrong, he is using wrong source data
interpretation and the like. But careful. What if I am right? What if these
systematic errors really exist and accumulate. Well, we do not need to be
scientists to understand where this leads in the long term. And this is my
concern. But I feel I am pretty alone here. When I try to move the attention
to these systematic error issues by discussing and asking questions, people
are irritated and, eventually, formally answering them. Even if I attach
obvious and unbeatable arguments I receive answers like: "I don't see the
problem", "I don't understand what are you trying to achieve", "I am not
here to argue with you", "Well, take an editor an correct the errors" and so
on. Of course all these does not help the (OSM) community. Systematic errors
should be prevented by eliminating their causes instead of curing the
consequences. Let me give an example. Some days ago a mapper sked an the
Help Forum the following question: "How to make a hole in an area, eg
woodland.". There were given 6 to 8 answers all incomplete (strictly taken -
wrong) as how to upload a (new) complex area instead of how to convert an
existing simple area into a complex area. Any of the instructions leads to
existence of two almost overlapping areas one as a simple and one as a
complex area (with a hole). The outer border polygons will lie in a thin
corridor belt of each other (note, not overlapping) and the hole will never
be visible. There is a huge number of these area error cases.

The number of systematic error classes, volume of each, the permanent nature
of them. indicates to me that I am pretty alone here. So, if you share/have
the same concern let us cope jointly. Even better, if already vi have a
forum/list that should work on systematic errors, let us know which one is
that and join them.

Regards, Sandor.

PS. More about systematic errors, their causes, examples, illustration. you
may find (download from) here:







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