[Talk-GB] Adding a further 250, 000 UK roads quickly using a Bot?

Ed Avis eda at waniasset.com
Thu Feb 3 12:26:45 GMT 2011

Dair Grant <dair at ...> writes:

>>Lastly, I don't believe that adding data from external sources discourages
>>contributors.  Quite the opposite.  It is a blank canvas that puts people off.
>>The way to bring in contributors is to show a map with a few missing details
>>that are so tempting to fix 'just one thing'...
>Is there an example of a road import that has led to an increase in
>contributors? I thought that in most cases it had the exact opposite effect.

I was thinking in particular of the Yahoo tracing.  In the beginning OSM was
largely blank and the only way to add new ways was to go out and make GPS
tracks.  I suggest, but cannot prove, that seeing an entirely blank canvas
doesn't entice you to start adding to the map, which must necessarily involve
adding small bits at a time.

Once the Yahoo aerial photos became available and many OSM contributors traced
large areas from them (yes, even though they had not visited those areas
on the ground!) then anyone could contribute small bits and pieces such as
the name of their local street or the pub on the corner.  This is how I got

Now importing ways from OS data is not quite the same as tracing from an
aerial photo but I suggest a similar principle applies.

>IMO the blank canvas is what pulls people in: an area that's 90% already
>there finds it harder to attract new mappers as it already "looks done"
>(filling in all the footpaths, post boxes, pubs, etc, is something you tend
>to do once you're already hooked).

On the other hand what you say here sounds plausible too.

However, we do have some real-world evidence.  There are towns which have been
blank for a long time on OSM.  If a blank canvas were a good way to encourage
contributors, they would have been filled in by now.  The fact that they are
still missing suggests that the strategy of deliberately leaving an area blank
and hoping for somebody to go out and survey it from scratch is not always

The way the OSM project has grown is by the principle of 'do what you can'.
Map something roughly using the best of your knowledge, which is still better
than leaving it entirely unmapped.  Then somebody can come along and improve
it later.
>If you want a 1:1 copy of the OS data, why not just use the OS data?

What I want (and I think what others want) is a map in machine-readable form
which corresponds to the real world.  The source it originally came from does
not matter.

Ed Avis <eda at waniasset.com>

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