[Imports-us] OSM US Import Document Draft

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Mon Nov 4 21:49:17 UTC 2013


> Start with a Google search and note how long it's going to take you to get
> to a place where 'consult on imports at osm.org' or similar are mentioned. In
> the middle of a novel-length document that says  'These guidelines are not
> definitive - they are not laws' in its intro :p

I have to disagree with your means of research here.

Importing data into OSM is a complex thing that requires familiarity
with the project, with the technology behind it, with the community, and
the established means of communication.

Not mastery - familiarity is enough. Ignorance isn't.

This is a bare minimum requirement that we cannot do away with. Even if
we could sell magic pills that would allow you to do an import ten
minutes after you've heard of OSM for the first time, we would not want
to do it.

You don't have to go to conferences *and* local meetings *and* read the
mailing lists *and* read help.osm.org *and* be familiar with the wiki to
do an import. But if you do *nothing* of all this then we certainly
don't want you importing.

I hope that so far this is noncontroversial.

Then, for someone who is at least *minimally* familiar with OSM, would
they really "start with a Google search" as you did in your example above?

I typed "import" in the help.openstreetmap.org search box and *every*
halfway relevant question (not counting "how do I importd addresses into
Nominatim" etc) had the right pointers in their answer section.

Type "import" in the Wiki search box and you get the same. Or look at
any "import" themed post on the mailing lists or the forums and again,
the same.

There's absolutely nothing to be said against improving the existing
documentation. (If the plan is not to create US-specific import
documentation but modifying what's there on the wiki, then I'd suggest
to coordinate that effort on the imports list instead of imports-us, to
avoid the impression that this was an effort to bring American import
rules to the masses.)

But frankly, even with the best documentation on the Wiki, you will
*still* have exactly the same cases as this - someone not spending
enough time (even if "enough" was only five minutes) to find it and
later crying foul for perceived unfair treatment and/or missing or
difficult-to-find documentation.

If our documentation is hard to find then we can improve that. If our
importers don't care to find it, that's something we will have
difficulty fixing.

We could potentially help the situation by detecting imports in the
editor (preferrable but not foolproof) or the API or some downstream
analysis tool (more difficult) and then rejecting an edit if it is
determined to be an import but doesn't come from a pre-authorised
source. But in the end the end that boils down to trying to solve a
social problem by technical means. People would probably still find ways
to import data without consultation and later claim that they couldn't
possibly have known because our documentation is a mess.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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