[Talk-us] Difficult USA mapper(s)

Martijn van Exel m at rtijn.org
Wed Oct 31 21:18:27 GMT 2012

It's hard to come up with guidelines when you don't know the
specifics, but let me throw in some thoughts based on what I read:
1) If you were to take administrative action on an account, blocking
it either temporarily or permanently, how do you prevent the same
person (or group of people, or bot, using the account) from starting
fresh under a new guise? My limited knowledge of these matters
suggests that this would be a Hard Problem. If it is, blocking
accounts is a toothless measure that doesn't even deserve all that
much consideration. If it isn't, I'm curious to know how it works, but
that's possibly for another thread.
2) From past discussions about this I gathered that these particular
accounts that inspire a lot of controversy and complaints usually show
a high prolificness - higher than reasonable for a human mapper.
Possibly, there are also particular discernible patterns to their
edits? Is this something that can be quantified into editing
thresholds above which the account would be red flagged and possibly
blocked? For example more than 10,000 Again, of course, this leads
back to the issue mentioned above.
3) Does this not in the end come down to some fundamental choices we
make as an OSM community regarding accountability and lineage? All you
need to sign up for an OSM account is a valid email address, a self
assigned username and password, and agreement with the CT. I am all
for respecting people's privacy and not gathering any more personal
information than strictly necessary, but when there are so few
limitations as to what you can do immediately after you sign up, is
that really sustainable? Should we not be move to a system where
newcomers have stricter limits imposed on what they can do (number of
edits, geographical scope of their edits..), and lift those
limitations gradually when they it becomes apparent (through peer
validation, a buddy system - I am not saying this is easy...) that
their contributions meet some quality standards? I realize full well
that this brings us no further to a solution for these current cases,
I just wanted to reflect on how these situations can come to exist in
the first place: being able to sign up to OSM, start changing stuff at
scale (even scripted) because you know better, without meeting much
technical resistance - and moreover being able to do so without ever
talking to anyone. We're only talking about a few (how many?) cases
now, and looking for ways to deal with them, but there will be more
and we need to think about how we can be prepared for them.


On Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 1:28 PM, Richard Weait <richard at weait.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 11:24 AM, Ian Dees <ian.dees at gmail.com> wrote:
>> We need to stop talking in nebulous terms. "the complaints here" are
>> apparently unknown to everyone. If it's not appropriate to describe the
>> specific issues, then perhaps we shouldn't be having this conversation on
>> the mailing list.
> I would prefer to discuss this in general, and in the open.  Firstly,
> open is good.  Secondly, we're seeking guidelines for use now and in
> the future.
> I do understand where you are coming from though.  Yes, I think
> "praise in public, criticize in private" is the way to go in general.
> However, that hasn't worked in these current cases.  Again, we've had
> _many_ complaints about these very few accounts.  If you haven't seen
> something like this?  Good.  You are better for it.
> As Dale suggests in his point 1), if one mapper takes the high road
> and decides not to change a disputed edit, but to discuss instead,
> then the other mapper can effectively "game the system".  They can not
> engage, or not change their mind and effectively get what they want,
> without consultation or collaborative mapping.  Rest assured that the
> difficult mappers would scream "edit war; bad touch!!!" were the high
> road mapper to respond by reverting or editing to their preference.
> But how do we distinguish between an idiosyncratic mapper who chooses
> to be less-engaged with the broader community from a mapping bully who
> will have it their way, regardless?  We[1] can discuss welcome and
> unwelcome behaviours.  We can establish guidelines. We can educate
> where required.  We can impose sanctions where the above don't work.
> Discussion comes first.  DWG have a pattern of complaints from mappers
> who feel that something must be done.  DWG is asking the US community
> at large what you would have DWG do on your behalf?  You could tell
> those mappers to "suck it up and stop whining."  That's what the
> difficult accounts have effectively said.  I think that we can do
> better than that.
> I won't suggest that every complaint DWG receives deserves equal
> weight after consideration of the matter.  And I won't suggest that
> some accounts are always wrong while other accounts are always right.
> But this is a giant flashing warning light.  With a klaxon.
> [1] We = "We as a community"
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martijn van exel

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