[Talk-us] Take another look at notes!

Toby Murray toby.murray at gmail.com
Fri May 31 03:25:01 UTC 2013

As I'm sure a lot of you are aware, osm.org has a new "notes" [1] feature
(new as of a month ago) that allows anonymous users to submit random
comments about our maps.

Some of them will of course be unhelpful or silly but there have been many
useful ones submitted since the feature went live. We actually have a bot
in the #osm-us IRC channel that announces whenever a new note is posted
anywhere in the US.

Recently I noticed a pattern on some of the notes and guessed (correctly as
it turns out) that Craigslist had added a feature to their OSM powered maps
to submit map problems back to OSM. At first things were a little chaotic
and we were getting notes about Craigslist page layout problems and such.
But they have tweaked some things and the reports coming in now have a
better signal-to-noise ratio. There does still seem to be a fairly common
problem of people reporting geocoding related problems that don't affect
OSM data. These usually say something about a city name being displayed
incorrectly when osm.org either has the correct city name or there isn't a
city label nearby. Not quite sure what is happening there.

You can tell a Craigslist note by the fact that they start with the text
"bounds:" followed by a pair of coordinates. This indicates the map view
that the user was looking at when the note was submitted. As of a few hours
ago they are also adding a URL that will open the map with a box on it to
graphically display this bounds information. This is just useful to see if
they were zoomed in really close or looking at a whole region. I think this
might be the first example of a bug sumitted after this was added:

But Craigslist isn't the only source of new notes and there are a lot of
them waiting for resolution. So please, if you haven't taken a look
recently, check the "Notes" box on the layer chooser on osm.org and see if
there is anything near you that needs some attention. They should start
showing up at zoom level 8 or 9, depending on the size of your browser
window (the query is limited by geographic area, not by zoom level) Even if
the note itself isn't entirely clear on what is wrong, a quick look at the
area in an editor may well point out missing roads or crazy TIGER problems
that might be easy to fix.

If stats are your thing, Pascal Neis has made some notes statistics that
are updated every hour: http://resultmaps.neis-one.org/osm-notes

Keep in mind that not all notes are submitted by anonymous users and if you
comment on a note that was submitted by an OSM user, they will be notified
of your response. This allows for some discussion of the issue if need be.

[1] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Notes

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