[Osmf-talk] Anonymous notes on osm.org

Roman Fischer roman at mybabey.ch
Tue Nov 13 06:37:40 UTC 2012

Dear Mappers,

I strongly suggest that we learn from other bug-reporting systems.

My experience with the "bugs" reported via Mapdust (Skobbler-App on  
the iPhone) is: Only 1-2 out of 10 reported "bugs", are useful. Useful  
in the sense that they lead to a map-correction.
The rest of the reports is unclear, irreproducible or duplicates. :-\

While I agree that it should be simple and easy to report bugs, there  
should be a way to contact the reporter in case more explanation is  
needed... Maybe a "login" should not be required but at least an  
optional email address for feedback/questions would certainly help.


Quoting Harry Wood <mail at harrywood.co.uk>:

> I feel quite strongly that we should allow anonymous notes. The  
> exciting thing about OpenStreetBugs was always the simplicity of the  
> user experience, particularly for non-registered fly-by  
> contributors. Close your eyes and think back to a time when you  
> weren't obsessed with OpenStreetMap. Imagine you're this  
> guy: https://forums.craigslist.org/?ID=221103972   Looks like I  
> failed to persuade him/her to add a bug, and that's without  
> requiring sign in. It's a user experience thing. For me this  
> massively outweighs the other considerations you've mentioned.
> But a period of a few months of lockdown might be a good idea ("soft  
> launch")  Discussed here already:
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/rails-dev/2012-October/001138.html
> Harry
> ________________________________
>  From: Kai Krueger <kakrueger at gmail.com>
> To: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> Sent: Tuesday, 13 November 2012, 2:01
> Subject: [Osmf-talk] Anonymous notes on osm.org
> Hello everyone,
> I presume you are all familiar with OpenStreetBugs and I suspect you  
> also have heard that there are efforts underway to bring a similar  
> concept to the front page of osm.org to increase the exposure of map  
> bugs and notes to a wider audience of mappers and problem reporters.
> The current efforts can be seen at
> http://notes.apis.dev.openstreetmap.org/
> One of the outstanding issues needing to be addressed before  
> deployment is whether to allow anonymous (i.e. non logged in users)  
> notes and comments. Although part of the issue is technical, it is  
> equally a question of policy and if OSM wants to allow it or not.  
> That is the reason I bring it up here on this list to see if a  
> consensus can be found.
> The question has already to a degree been discussed on the rails-dev  
> list [1] and on talk-de [2] (probably amongst other places).
> I'll try and summarize the points raised pro and contra so far:
> - A question of legality: Some people have raised the concern of  
> legal issues. One hope for the notes system is that people provide  
> good enough bug reports for (experienced) mappers to enact on these  
> bug reports without needing to have own local knowledge of the  
> issue. However, with anonymous reports, the knowledge of the issues  
> (e.g. the name of a road) might be copied from proprietary sources  
> like Google maps. As a non logged-in user will not have confirmed  
> the contributor terms and therefore has not vouched for non  
> infringement of third party rights of their contributions, can this  
> information be used directly?
> - A question of spam: Having an open API to create notes on a (sort  
> of) high profile page like osm.org probably invites the miss use of  
> the feature in particular in form of spam. Obviously requiring a  
> log-in won't completely prevent spam, but it might reduce its  
> volume? An alternative would be to add e.g. captcha's to the posting  
> process of notes. However, once you do that, is it really much  
> easier than to create an account? Especially with the simplified  
> sign-up process via third party authentication of e.g. "login with  
> gmail"? It might however be a significantly higher psychological  
> barrier though.
> - A question of communication: A key component of OSM is the  
> community and the discussions of local knowledge and how best to map  
> it. With anonymous users it might be more likely that a two way  
> communication is not possible, as a bug reporter may not respond to  
> clarifying questions. This might leave a lot more bug reports open  
> that could be solved with a quick answer to a short question of  
> clarification.
> This also brings up a secondary question, assuming the decision is  
> to support anonymous users. Should the system allow people to add an  
> arbitrary name to their report / comment or should they just be  
> listed as "by anonymous"?
> - A question of simplicity of use: The main argument for anonymous  
> users is obviously the simplicity of use. One of the key points of  
> the notes system is to make it as simple as possible for people to  
> contribute their local knowledge even if they find actually editing  
> OSM data to challenging or daunting and don't want to put in the  
> effort to learn the complexities of OSM and its tagging schemata.  
> Adding a signup / login process before being able to contribute  
> valuable knowledge might be too high of a hurdle, scaring away  
> people who might other wise contribute.
> - A question of third party use: A number of third party sites using  
> data and showing maps of OSM have included interfaces to add "report  
> a problem" links to the old OpenStreetBugs. It would obviously be  
> encouraged to do the same again with the new system. However, how  
> would a login requirement to OSM interact with this third party use  
> of OSM (whereby third party might be an editor like JOSM)? On the  
> one hand it would probably make implementing this on third party  
> sites more complicated as the site would possibly have to implement  
> something like OAuth to osm.org. On the other hand it might increase  
> the awareness of users of what osm is and what they are actually  
> commenting on. For example one major flaw with the other wise nicely  
> done bug reporting system of the navigation app Skobbler (MapDust)  
> was the far to low signal to noise ratio. Quite a number of reports  
> were of the form that e.g sound in skobbler didn't work or other  
> software interface issues
>  that had nothing to do with OSM's map quality data. Will requiring  
> a signup to an openstreetmap account help educate people about what  
> OSM is if they click the "report a bug" link on some unrelated third  
> party site?
> - A question of capacity: From  a more practical point of view, some  
> have raised the issue of whether the mapping community has the  
> capacity to deal with a larger influx of bug reports. If a lot more  
> reports get submitted than the community can deal with, the notes  
> system will perhaps cause more frustration than actually help solve  
> problems. Requiring a log-in (at least initially until the capacity  
> of the system and community is better understood) might reduce the  
> volume to more manageable levels and favor those committed enough to  
> be willing to sign up to an account, increasing the chance of  
> providing enough information to solve the bug. But that is somewhat  
> speculative at the moment.
> As I am sure the discussion will show, there are many more pro and  
> contra points for anonymous notes. But perhaps the more important  
> point is to come to a workable conclusion to be able move forward on  
> finally deploying the notes branch and not let the perfect be the  
> enemy of the good. After all things aren't set in stone in the first  
> iteration of deployment.
> Kai
> [1]  
> http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/rails-dev/2012-October/001080.html
> [2] http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk-de/2012-October/099091.html
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