[Osmf-talk] Paid Mapping / WikiPR like issues in OSM?

Jonathan bigfatfrog67 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 5 14:09:28 UTC 2013

I know this topic has died but I just wanted to say that I've noticed 
quite an increase in the number of businesses registering as OSM Users 
and adding themselves.

Here's another case in point:


I don't know how accurate the entry is but I'm impressed with the detail 
they've added and the quality of the tagging for a new user.  Clearly 
all the help guides etc are working well.

Personally, I think this is a good thing.



On 27/11/2013 14:54, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> Hi,
>     some of you may have read the recent brouhaha about a PR firm
> offering to edit Wikpedia to brush up their client's images or advertise
> their products.
> Wikimedia Foundation sent them a cease and desist letter
> (http://blog.wikimedia.org/2013/11/19/wikimedia-foundation-sends-cease-and-desist-letter-to-wikipr/).
> The main problem, from Wikipedia's point of view, is not so much that
> someone receives money for editing Wikipedia, but that
> * content added by the PR firm lacked neutrality and verifiability;
> * there were undisclosed conflicts of interest
> * a ton of sock puppet accounts had been created by the PR firm.
> Hundreds, likely thousands, of person-hours have been spent by the
> Wikipedia community to analyse the problem.
> At OpenStreetMap, we haven't yet had such problems or at least we aren't
> aware of them. There have been a couple of "SEO" spammers, and a couple
> of people who too prominently added their own business name, but that's
> about all. I know of a couple self-employed people who offer to "add
> your place to OpenStreetMap" but I don't have reason to believe that
> anything improper is going on there.
> Basically, our own rules of verifiablity mean that there's not so much
> where a commercial PR firm could put a "spin" on things and thereby
> damage our project or reputation. You might say: as long as what they
> add is correct, why bother?
> I think it is perhaps not as easy as that, and it is a matter worth
> discussing and thinking about.
> One of the reasons for OSM's success is the strong community of people
> who care for the data. That's why we have strict rules on imports - we
> can't allow an area being plastered with data that would swamp and
> discourage the mapping community, *even* *if* the data itself is of high
> quality.
> The same caveat might apply to paid editing. Someone who adds data not
> because they're passionate but because they're paid, will be lost to us
> immediately when their boss decides that attention should be shifted
> elsewhere. In paid mapping, it is totally conceivable that some
> individual maps from 9 to 5 for a month, and then never again. It is
> totally conceivable that that individual isn't at all interested in OSM
> or the data, and that they simply do what they're told. It is totally
> conceivable that, when asked a few months later, that person will reply
> "uh, I don't quite remember, it was just a job I was doing".
> Is that a problem, or could it become one?
> Also, we're giving mappers a huge amount of freedom in tagging and in
> deciding what they map. We might shrug if we see that someone
> meticuously draws every single tree in their garden, or every patch of
> grass, but we'll not usually do something about it and leave the quirky
> individual their fun. After all, we want to support "unexpected uses".
> If the same were to be done by an organisation with lots of resources,
> and we would have to fear that they would neatly "paint" every single
> garden of the properties they manage or so, would we still say "ah, give
> the individual some leeway in how they contribute to OSM"? Or would we,
> when faced with an organisation making cold business decisions rather
> than quirky hobbyist decisions, request that they adhere to other standards?
> In the Wikipedia case, one of the issues was that the PR company was not
> being open about who they were, what they were editing and why, hiding
> behind "sock puppet" accounts. In OSM much as in Wikipedia, we don't
> normally expect people to reveal their identity, or tell us why they're
> mapping something. Is it different when dealing with a corporate entity?
> Would we expect to be told which accounts belong to employees and what
> their current goal is (e.g. "we have been asked to improve cycleway
> mapping in Frankfurt for a client and expect to spend 3-4 person weeks
> on that, and the mapping will be done by our team members A, B, and C")?
> I'm not offering any answers - just questions right now.
> Bye
> Frederik

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