[Talk-us] Spammy-sounding survey sent to my OSM inbox today.

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Sun Jul 28 15:51:03 UTC 2013

Bryce Nesbitt writes:
>But demographic information (the bulk of padeshahekhoban's survey) 
>is not recorded by OSM.  We have no idea who most mappers are.  For 
>example: people doing gender analysis of OSM users use name analysis 
>(e.g. "Jane" is female).   Education level is relevant, but not 
>recoverable.  Home country (for expats) is not recoverable either, 
>but of interest in marking the participation level of local 
>residents.  Human languages spoken would also be of interest.
>If osmf collects just a bit more demographic data, the vast bulk of 
>public data becomes more useful to research.

I might be the nicest person you have ever met, I hope I am a good 
OSM mapper, and I am kind to children and animals.  However, I 
vehemently oppose OSM collecting any additional 
personally-identifiable data.  My birth year, employment status, 
gender and other such data are nobody's business but mine.  And you 
might call me a privacy nut if you know me, but I have given more 
(and more personally-identifiable information) about myself to OSM 
than I have to any other volunteer project in my life.  I have done 
so knowing what OSM's existing "privacy policies" are:  nothing 
specific except those specified and implied by the License Terms, and 
I like it that way.  So, I continue to contribute.  Asking me for 
demographics directly threatens my willingness to contribute in the 

>There are privacy issues, for those accounts who provide 
>demographics "only to researchers".
>If demographics are included with editing stats, it becomes probable 
>someone could work the data in reverse to reveal the member ID.

You are darn right there are privacy issues.  As OSM has absolutely 
no Privacy Policy (that I am aware of) that isn't already included in 
the License Terms I (and thousands of others) have agreed to, the 
privacy issues are "what is out there is out there and what is not 
out there is not available."  Any attempt to change this ex post 
facto is going to inflame the same sort of ugly backlash that 
changing the License Terms from CC-BY-SA to ODBL did:  a nasty 
feeling of betrayal by OSM contributors (which still has not 
completely gone away, even for many who have agreed to the new 
terms).  Who wants to go first with THAT?!

>Beyond that I think it reasonable to ask more of mappers.  Wikipedia 
>has a good argument for anonymous editing.  OpenStreetMap?  I think 
>not so much.

No, it is not reasonable to ask more of mappers.  OpenStreetMap 
absolutely has the same good arguments for the sort of semi-anonymous 
mapping it enjoys right now.  Do you want to chill new mappers as 
well as dyed-in-the-wool contributors to what is a great project? 
OK, then start talking about "asking more" of us in the direction of 
privacy-invading demographic information.

This "knowing everything about everybody" has gone too far.  You 
don't know about padeshahekhoban?  Neither do I.  And I really don't 
care to:  I'm busy mapping.

OSM contributor of over 8000 edits since 2009 (so leave me alone so I 
may continue mapping)
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