[Talk-us] [OSM-talk] Taking a break and a call for help

Greg Troxel gdt at lexort.com
Sun Mar 22 16:46:43 UTC 2020

Dave F <davefoxfac63 at btinternet.com> writes:

> On 21/03/2020 20:59, Greg Troxel wrote:
>> This really seems unfair.
>> When someone maps for OSM because they want to, they have goals and a
>> typically a good attitude about community norms.
>> When someone is a a paid mapper, their goals come from the person who is
>> paying them, and they don't necessarily care about the overall health of
>> OSM.
>> So this "paid mapping is a bit scary" notion is 100% accurate.
> You've made a leap in logic there. From guessing to 100% true.

No leap, and no guessing.

I have made a logical conclusion about a situation with a structural
conflict of interest.

It is entirely normal in our greater society to recognize conflicts of
interest and to mitigate them.  In open source, we don't talk about it
much, but usually contributions come in chunks and are reviewed.  OSM
doesn't have a review process, really (not a complain - just that
review-before-merge isn't something that can address COI in OSM.

I did not say (and do not mean) any of

  all paid mappers are bad people

  all edits done by paid mappers are bad

My point is that when people are paid to map, there is a structural
conflict of interest between the good of OSM and the goals/incentives
impressed on the paid mapper.  Again, that doesn't mean it's always
misaligned - it means that the possibility is very real, and we
currently don't have a way to deal with this.  So I find the general
situation inherently fraught.

(There's also the issue of misalignment between the good of OSM and the
goals of the employer, but I'm assuming that the employer's goals flow
down to paid mappers goals, for a competent employer.)

>> That doesn't mean all paid apping is bad; were I to take money from
>> the local chamber of commerce to make sure all their businesses were
>> on the map with opening hours and other details, all of it would be
>> done in a way that other mappers would think is correct, or at least
>> just as correct as if I were doing it for fun.  But the idea that
>> people are hired into a position and given instructions might lead to
>> bad outcomes is quite sensible.  Really these edits are not so
>> different from mechanical edits, and I think the organizers need to
>> own the responsibilility for high quality, and the standard should be
>> quite a bit better than normal hand mapping norms.
> What's the betting you'd be the first to complain when your parcel is
> 30 minutes after it's allocated delivery time, because the driver
> couldn't find the right driveway.

Now you have crossed into ad hominem and strawmen.

Note that what you quoted from me said "might lead to bad outcomes", not
"always will".

I did not say that anybody, Amazon included, adding driveways following
existing norms was a bad thing.  Around me the average edit quality for
driveway additions has been good -- and I have not complained about
them.  There have been some with not quite right tagging, but mostly
they've been ok, and its been things like "highway=service" without
"service-driveway" -- not egregious, still better than before addition,
but too heavy on the render, as well as not quite right.

My belief is that a bunch of paid mappers with a narrow focus and
basically only adding missing things is quite likely to be mostly ok.
Once you get into changes with more nuance, I expect more trouble.

I did say that when someone pays a lot of people to map, then that
becomes a large scale edit.  Again I didn't say that was always bad --
but I did say that the company needs to be responsible for making the
problems that could happen not happen actually.  I really don't
understand why you consider that to be so offensive.

> This is all AL are doing, completing the final quarter of a mile of
> their journey in areas not easily accessible to the general public.
> It is *not* a mechanical* edit, but taken from on the ground surveys
> using GPS, in *exactly* the same way many voluntary contributors map.

Are you associated with AL in any way?  I'm guessing not, but your
reaction to pointing out a structural conflict of interest is remarkably

> Please don;t assume, go on the evidence of the contributions. I
> believe they're improving the quality of the OSM database.

My memory of which paid editor did which is blurred, and I think it
wasn't amazon, but in the last year or two I have had to clean up a
number of things where conservation land was touched and local-consenus
tags, put there by local mappers, were removed by far-awy paid mappers.
While I could talk via changeset comment to one paid mapper, another
paid mapper from the same company wwould do something similar; there was
obviously no coordination and no intent to respect local norms and to
interact with the local community.

This as I see it is part of Paul's point, that a group of people under
common direction has an obligation to cause mistakes (particularly
overwriting mistakes) to be at a much lower level than an individual new

> * Similarly the way 'mechanical edits' are perceived needs to
> change. They should be accesses on *quality*, not quantity.

I agree with you there - I am not anti mechanical edit, and not anti
import.  I do think our requirements to document and review are good
though.   I think it makes sense to have similar review of the
instructions to paid mappers.

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