[Imports-us] OSM US Import Document Draft

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Mon Nov 4 22:53:19 UTC 2013


> Does OSM want people outside of your current import
> group circle to do imports?

In fact, most people who ever did any imports in OSM were not part of
any "current import group circle".

Most imports were actually wanted by someone in OSM, often a group of
people. A potential data source sought and discovered, existing mappers
thought about whether and how to import it, and went ahead. The
"existing mappers" were occasionally just a few local people if the
import was very local, or mappers from all over a country.

The important thing is that the data has some anchor point in OSM. We
can't use data that is dumped on us by someone who then goes away again
and doesn't care what happens. If there's a local group who makes the
import happen then there's at least a hope that they will continue to
work with the data. Hit-and-run imports, on the other hand, lead to
bit-rot like the funny quadrupled borders in that other post on talk-us,
stuff that nobody cares about and that is, frankly, an embarrassment to
all of OSM.

Imports are, crucially, not driven by the availability of data but by
its desirability. So an import that starts with "hey people I have this
data set here that would look nice on tha OSM map" is bound for a rocky
ride (not *as* rocky as one where someone just imports without the "hey
people" part though!), whereas an import that starts with "the OSM
community in XYZ has been discussing the release of boundary data and
finally been given green light by the authorities" might have a better time.

> Does OSM want the support of the GIS community
> to not only help with imports but supply its data?

I think this cannot be answered wholesale. It is for the OSM community
to reach out to others - GIS community or elsewhere - and ask for
specific data sources in specific regions, or maybe even help with
importing. If the OSM community itself doesn't drive the import, if
there's no "human anchor" for the data that gets imported, then any
attempt at driving such an import from the outside will be frowned upon.

I think that the single biggest communication problem between the OSM
community and the GIS community is that many members of the GIS
community often don't see the dynamics - they believe that a certain
data set has a value and that OSM automatically benefits if this is
imported. Whereas OSM doesn't see the data, OSM sees the process, and
the process needs to be sustainable.

A "data drop" into OSM is just as useless a well-meaning aid
organisations in the 70s building a school and then leaving the place;
it creates a non-sustainable situation where people depend on others
coming in and building them a school. In international aid, this lesson
has long since been learned; in OSM, we still have a lot of teaching to
do, and we will certainly piss a few people off in the process ("What,
you don't wont this FREE GIFT?").


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

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