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

Vic Morgan vic.morgan at ntlworld.com
Wed Feb 24 23:31:05 GMT 2010

I just thought that you'd like the opinion of a (not so) newbie in this
intense discussion. 
In order to attract people (potential mappers) to the site it has to
offer something back - it has to have functionality. Not functionality
to the mapper - Potlatch is quite adequate for my level of expertise -
but both a reason and a reward for taking an interest in OSM. I'd
suggest that some of this functionality could be provided by links to a
couple of recently mentioned sites, and probably others;
1. Openrouteservice.org
This is a clear demonstration of how the OSM data can be used to provide
a useful service to the user. It's a usable and useful tool, and as an
added bonus readily demonstrates any weaknesses in local OSM data. 
2. Maposmatic.org
Anyone visiting OSM will have an interest in getting a map of some
description. Ordinary punters will have no interest whatsoever in
rendering - all they want is a map. Maposmatic provides just that,
without bogging the user down in technical detail. 
Between them these two sites offer the rewards that might just tempt
people into contributing to the OSM project because they can connect
data gathering with an end-product, without inviting the user to
undertake an instant course in half-a-dozen arcane IT subjects.
So my message is - add functionality and usability to the OSM entry
point by linking to usable, useful sites. Why else would they want to
visit the site? If the site is genuinely useful, and perhaps inspiring,
they'll come again and may start to contribute.
Once they are 'hooked' you can expose them to appalling mire of the OSM
Wiki and so-called help pages. By then they may have the inspiration to
plough through it all to satisfy their own particular needs.

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