[OSM-talk] Response to A critique of OpenStreetMap

Milo van der Linden milo at dogodigi.net
Thu Oct 14 13:07:56 BST 2010

Dear 41latitude,

I came accross your blog on "critique of OpenStreetMap".
http://www.41latitude.com/post/1310985699/openstreetmap-critique and read it
with interest. Some points are true, others need better explaination and I
think you misinterpreted some things.

Basically your critique can be drilled down to 3 main components:

*The website*
The issues for mapkey/legend and the different maptypes are noticed by the
community. These points are indeed not always obvious to "newbies" and might
be better understandable by simply changing text and labels.

There is a huge misunderstanding with the rendering done on the map at
www.openstreetmap.org. www.openstreetmap.org is maintained by the
Openstreetmap foundation. Their mission goals are clearly stated here:

"Making the perfectly rendered map available to the world" is *not* a
mission goal for the OSMF. The OSMF is primarily responsible for maintaining
the database and the services related to it.
Everybody in the world is free to make their own online-map, but it is
impossible for the OSMF to fund the hours that would need to be spent to
have the perfect map available from their website for all the different
wishes on maps that exist in the world today.

To get a good idea of what is possible with rendering, you would need to
investigate further. For instance, look at what Geofabrik:
http://www.geofabrik.de/maps/tiles.html and Cloudmade:
http://cloudmade.com/products/web-maps-studio have to offer, or look at open
mapquest is also busy: http://open.mapquest.co.uk/

Please compare those rendering possibilities and see if you would need to
rephrase your conclusions on the rendering part.

I agree that the rendering issues could be removed from your critique if the
OSMF mission statement was better proclaimed at the "main openstreetmap map"
since it's primary goal is to showcase what might be possible. It is up to
map developers all over the world to make beautiful, fit for purpose, maps.

*Data quality*
OpenStreetMap is a young project, with a extremely fast momentum, unrivaled
anywhere in the world of mapdata. Data is entered by volunteers all over the
world and there is NO restriction as to what data can be entered or how it
can be entered. This is the great power of openstreetmap, you are in
control! If you feel that labels like “Departamento de Santa Cruz” are no
good idea; suggest a new key-mapping, or fix the labels by changing the
tag/value pairs for the particular departemento to name=Santa Cruz
admin_level=6 and  so fort. OpenStreetMap as a whole is not responsible for
incorrect labeling, we as volunteers are. If we come across data that is
wrong, and we KNOW what is right, fix it.

I hope this give you some new insight. Please feel free to sign up for an
OpenStreetMap account and join the process of correcting what in your
opinion is not completely right. And when you are in doubt on how to correct
things, drop by on the mailing-lists and ask for review of your ideas. That
is the true beauty of the structure at OSM.

Kind regards,

Milo van der Linden
Open Source Geospatial consultant
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