[Osmf-talk] Proposal: Welcome Wagon Working Group

Richard Weait richard at weait.com
Sun Sep 23 16:59:57 UTC 2012

Dear All,

I would like to suggest a "Welcome Wagon[1]" Working Group.  An OSMF
Working Group dedicated to learning, understanding and promoting best
practices relating to new mappers.  In this email I outline my
"vision" for this potential Working Group.  I seek your comments,
participation and ultimately, community and Foundation approval to


Many OSM accounts are created but never used to contribute data to
OpenStreetMap.  Many more accounts contribute a single changeset and
are not used again.  It seems logical, though it is unsupported by
data at this time, to suggest that "more mappers, mapping more often,
is better for the OSM project and data set."  It seems likely, though
again, unsupported by data, that these many new accounts are an
excellent group to study, with a goal of creating more and better


Test, record and learn what works best to encourage responsible
mapping in new mappers.  Test, record and learn what non-mapping
social interactions improve mappers and mapping.


Tasks of the WWWG are largely To Be Determined.  An example is,
"Contact a percentage of new mappers with one of a series of
semi-custom emails. measure the responses and differential responses
between the semi-custom emails and the mappers who were not contacted.
 There are many unanswered questions, and questions that have been
answered through experience but without hard data.  WWWG might be the
way to answer questions like, "For what reasons are n% accounts never
used?  What percentage of mappers are frustrated by their first
attempt at mapping and leave the project?  What series of tasks or
goals provide the easiest learning curve to new mappers?  Are there
different types of mappers?  If so, what are the differences? How do
we recognize them? How do we assist them in becoming reaching their

Working Group vs. Community

Some aspects of new user welcome and guidance are already ably
executed by individuals in the wider OSM community.  This should
continue.  I suggest that some aspects of new user welcome and
guidance are better suited to a formal OSMF Working Group.  i see the
benefits of a Working Group as:

Coordination - by using a uniform procedure and tools, a larger corpus
of response data can be collected and analyzed.

Institutional memory - individual community members who welcome others
may know what works and what does not, but that information is not
necessarily shared in the form of project wide best practices.

Privacy - While initial work may be performed using only public
information, the group may find that sensitive data provides
additional insights.  This data can only be accessed and evaluated
within the terms of OSMF privacy policies.

Efficiency - If tools are developed to assist in this research, having
the unified tools available within the working group is an advantage.

WWWG vs. other WGs

There is a small amount of overlap in interest between this proposed
WWWG and other Working Groups.  WWWG is primarily a communication
function, but to a more-restricted audience than the mandate of the
Communication Working Group.  I don't see and exact match in
responsibilities and so I suggest that this be a new group, rather
than an additional task for an existing group.

Next steps

I hope that this email will garner some measure of support in the form
of "that sounds good", and / or "perhaps this idea can be included"
and / or "yes, somebody should definitely do this" responses.  Even
better would be responses in the form of "Yes, I want to do some
specific tasks in this area" and / or "We are doing similar things in
our sub-community and want to participate on a broader scale".

So, let's hear it.  What do you think?

Best regards and happy mapping,

[1] Welcome Wagon is / was a business in USA and Canada from the
1920s. It greeted new home owners with samples, coupons and
advertisements for local participating businesses.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welcome_Wagon  I'm not suggesting that
OSMF start such a business.  I'm suggesting that we learn the best way
to welcome new users, then eventually, make recommendations to do a
better job of welcoming new users.

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