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

SteveC steve at asklater.com
Wed Feb 24 21:36:18 GMT 2010

On Feb 24, 2010, at 8:47, Michal Migurski <mike at stamen.com> wrote:

> 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.

Mike it seems obvious to me. I've run more mapping parties than anyone  
and been to more conferences. Through the CM ambassadors it was the  
same story.

It was as I recall your basic and longstandig set of complaints, do  
you remember?

But if it's really not credible then let's do it and get people just  
to add a big and you can see how hard it is.

>> 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.

Mike you conveniently concentrated on my responses, did you bother to  
read all the emails where I'm called a shit and a tosser etc? Are they  
ok? Or is that all soley my fault too? I'll happily point you at all  
the times I was flamed when not even doing anything bad, and then we  
can look at how people like dhh and linus have to communiate too.

> 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
> both.
> 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 think I've gone further in actually building something and  
sidestepping PL entirely. How you of all people can't see that a  
simple feedback form is a step forward I don't know.

> 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."

I guess I'm genuinely surprised we really need to go to such lengths,  
but hey.

> -mike.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> michal migurski- mike at stamen.com
>                  415.558.1610
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