[OSM-talk] Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

Steve Chilton S.L.Chilton at mdx.ac.uk
Wed Feb 24 19:04:00 GMT 2010

I have been very busy (and very put off) recently, so have not read EVERY posting on this topic but I would like to respond on the specific issue of an entry level editor.
I can understand where people are coming from (Steve C included), can understand where they might be going, but really don't like the road that is being travelled - viz language/tone/factions/points scoring etc.
And this next bit is directed specifically at Steve C:
Have you considered a different approach? Given that it is probably accepted that an entry level editor would be a "good thing" why not work towards it in a more positive way. It is quite possible that you are hearing from loads of people that Potlatch is a (considerable) barrier to entry to working on the data entry. I am not actually sure anyone has ever claimed that PL WAS the answer to this particular matter. I also would just say that for me and my way of working (and yes I know I have a particular level of knowledge that I already bring to bear so am not a good case study) Potlatch is a very comfortable editor to work with, and am pleased with the way it has been developed, and have confidence that PL2 will build on this.
It is evident that you have excellent networking abilities, credibility in the wider community, loads of energy, and (perhaps) an understanding of what is required. Why not ask these people you meet to help formulate a brief for said entry level system (even using the dreaded focus groups to do so). Why not then network with some folk who might be in a position to look at the brief and then approach someone (or more) to actually tackle the task, meanwhile acting as project manager to guide it through all the stages that will happen - concept, UI, testing, tweaking, etc (I am no project manager, so excuse ignorance here).
Come up with a good result and it will surely be adopted by the project. You will receive considerable kudos if you can help deliver that result, and we will have a better project for it, with hopefully more people data inputting also.
Think on it.

	-----Original Message----- 
	From: talk-bounces at openstreetmap.org on behalf of Michal Migurski 
	Sent: Wed 24/02/2010 15:47 
	To: Talk Openstreetmap 
	Subject: Re: [OSM-talk] Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

	On Feb 24, 2010, at 6:21 AM, SteveC wrote:
	>> You believe that feedback is a good thing, but, it seems, only if the
	>> feedback confirms your own ideas. You have railed against the UI,
	>> against hard-working volunteer contributors and against anyone who
	>> disagrees with you, who's left?
	> Oh that's easy - the vast majority of people out there who use the 
	> site every day.
	Steve, you keep saying some variation of this, but at some point 
	you're going to need to Show Us The Newbies. These disembodied, 
	confused masses have to be given their own voice, because I don't 
	think that the way you invoke their opinions here is particularly 
	credible. You're summarizing their opinions when I think a much more 
	effective way to make your point might be to come back with specific 
	things about the site they found confusing, and what they were trying 
	to do when they got confused, and *whether people who try to do those 
	things are the audience that OpenStreetMap is built to serve*.
	If you don't do this, it will continue to seem like you're 
	paraphrasing phantom newbies to support what's basically a turf war 
	here on the list.
	> And I don't think I particularly railed against the volunteers, it's 
	> almost exclusively about the crappy UI. And it is crappy. I don't 
	> know why everyone has such a hard time admitting that, the sooner we 
	> do, the sooner we can fix it.
	You're definitely railing against volunteers. I don't get involved on 
	this list much, but I read it when I can and I've honestly been 
	shocked at your combative and frankly rude tone. Fix it, get help, 
	whatever, but do it soon.
	On Feb 24, 2010, at 6:41 AM, SteveC wrote:
	> So, note everyone, Andy agrees but we just disagree on the 
	> implementation. I think we need a step change as PL1 has been 
	> sitting around for multiple years, things like a freeze to make sure 
	> it happens. Andy believes the softly softly approach.
	PL1 has visibly improved in the years that I've been using it. It's 
	got problems, sure, but the plain dumb fact of the matter is that 
	editing vectors and tending metadata is a *complicated and difficult 
	interface problem*. Adobe Illustrator has a similar basic feature set 
	to what a general purpose OSM editor needs, and it takes designers 
	months if not years to learn how to use it. OSM layers on the 
	additional complication of negotiated key/value metadata that's 
	frequently invisible. Vector editing is hard. Metadata is hard. OSM is 
	It seems clear to me that another general purpose editor is not going 
	to solve the newbie editing problem. It also seems clear to me that 
	Potlatch fills an important niche in the project, in that there's 
	nothing else at a comparable level of completeness that I can use in a 
	web browser.
	It also seems clear to me that segmenting the audience into consumers 
	of the map and producers of the map is worthwhile, so I appreciate 
	your work with the Peruvian designer who simplified the design of the 
	site. The reason people here are questioning that proposal is that 
	it's not exactly clear what specific deficiencies it's addressing - 
	it's just kinda simpler, closer in appearance to maps.google.com, maps.bing.com
	, and maps.yahoo.com.
	So, here's a constructive suggestion on how to move forward. You need 
	to expose the newbie voice directly, and you need to communicate which 
	newbie activities are the ones you would like for OSM to support. I 
	think there's a path in OSM, from using the map (e.g. Haiti), to 
	fixing a problem (e.g. bumping into Potlatch for the first time when 
	you see a street name is wrong), to proactive involvement.
	If you can articulate what it is that all these people get hung up on, 
	then you will engage specific feedback. Right now, all I'm hearing is 
	"Potlatch sucks" invoking the difficulty of the codebase and problems 
	getting Richard to work on what you want. This is all back office 
	stuff, nobody in the outside world cares and AS3 or version control! 
	Make a case for improvements to the UI of Potlatch.
	I'll close with this excerpt from a recent conversation I had with 
	Stamen's creative director Eric, about his time working on a mountain 
	climbing project at the late 90's sports website Quokka.com:
	        "We had people in for user testing, under two scenarios. The first, 
	the event was just getting started, we brought them in cold, showed 
	them the stuff, asked them what we could do better. They tore it 
	apart: the text was too small, the expectations weren't clear, they 
	didn't know what to click on. To a person all of them said they'd 
	never come back to visit.
	        The second scenario, we paid people $5/day to visit the site, the 
	event was already going on, and asked them to come in after a week. 
	After asking them a few basic questions to verify that they'd actually 
	visited the site, we asked them what we could do better. The 
	suggestions were constructive, delightful, helpful. When asked whether 
	they'd come back, basically all of them said yes that they'd be back 
	every day to check in until the summit had been reached."
	michal migurski- mike at stamen.com
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