[Talk-GB] Deletions and newbie editors (was: Vandalism in London)

SomeoneElse lists at mail.atownsend.org.uk
Sun Oct 5 22:07:36 UTC 2014

With new editors though I sometimes think we forget how hard it is for 
someone to start editing now in e.g. the centre of London compared to 
when we "experienced mappers" started.  Here, for example (courtesy of 
Martijn Van Exel's "OSM Then and Now") is what the area I started 
mapping in looked like at around the time that I started:

I went through at least three iterations of how the paths there should 
be tagged, committed numerous "X not joined properly to Y" sins and on 
at least one occasion managed to duplicate all the minor roads in the area.

Many new mappers are just "hit and run" mappers and often it's easy to 
tidy up their contributions after they've long disappeared**. The ones 
who do stick around do need to be given a bit of time to get the hang of 
things - there are a lot of concepts to understand that really aren't 
obvious (the fact that the "map data" is more than just "the standard 
map style as seen at osm.org" is one of those).  However often a polite 
message helps - not a "you broke the map!" one, but more like "oh dear, 
something appears to have gone a bit wrong", together with an offer to 
assist and answer any other questions.

As has been said earlier in previous thread, it doesn't make sense to 
restrict the ability to edit OSM data to people who understand what e.g. 
relations are.

I'm certainly not the biggest fan of the way that iD does some things, 
but sometimes it seems to be being suggested that the people who wrote 
iD somehow "don't care" about OSM data quality and "if only it were more 
like JOSM" a number of these issues would go away.  The problem is that 
the task that iD sets itself is fundamentally different from the one 
that JOSM has.  The quickest scan of the discussions on 
https://github.com/openstreetmap/iD/issues would show that the balancing 
of "how to stop new editors from causing problems" with "how to allow 
new editors to contribute at all" is taken very seriously indeed***.

I did try and do some systematic analysis to compare editors back in 
September last year 
and in that the "newbie error rate" in iD was lower than in P2 (and 
other editors including JOSM, although the numbers are a bit too low to 
reliably draw conclusions there).

This isn't so much an "iD" problem as a "new mappers" one (and we don't 
have so many new mappers coming forward that we can afford to shoo them 
away).  We do have ways of seeing new mappers when they start 
(http://resultmaps.neis-one.org/newestosm.php and the IRC country bot 
feeds).  We have ways of being informed about changesets in an area that 
might be problematical (WhoDidIt among others), ways to collaborate (IRC 
country channels, forums, mailing lists, etc.) and everyone has the 
ability to contact new mappers near them and offer to help.



** Of course, people who delete lots of things because they think 
they're editing _their own personal copy_ of the map data need to be 
addressed immediately - but those edits are easy to spot.

*** Some of what it feels like from the other end of "the iD debate" was 
written up at 
(obviously read the thread and links to get the full context of that, 
but suffice to say that the reason that iD isn't perfect is because it 
is trying to solve a Very Hard Problem).

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