[OSM-talk] stop deleting abandoned railroads

Greg Troxel gdt at ir.bbn.com
Fri Aug 14 13:42:31 UTC 2015

Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com> writes:

> sent from a phone
>> Am 14.08.2015 um 10:48 schrieb Serge Wroclawski <emacsen at gmail.com>:
>> These discussions are nuanced. Are there going to be things one
>> person can identify that another can't- yes. But at the same time, I
>> still think that as a project, we've collectively made a decision
>> here that we don't require any special external knowledge or
>> equipment to modify data.

> We have underlined repeatedly in the past that OSM should be a home
> for special interest groups as well as for occasional generic
> mappers. I believe we as a project do require from our contributors
> some respect towards the previous contributions aka the map data the
> find when they start contributing. For example we do not tolerate to
> delete a way and then redraw it, even if it's done better, but rather
> we ask people to improve what is there by iterating over the existing
> data. This respect towards the others that we expect from all
> contributors leads to a situation where people without special
> knowledge and or equipment go one step back and refrain voluntarily
> from editing/deleting stuff they find and recognize as special
> interest data.

This is an excellent expression of a thought I have had during this
discussion but haven't felt coherent enough to post.

For deleting something that I think isn't there - that some other mapper
added, I make sure that:

  I've actually been there on the ground, on foot.

  I have some idea what the thing is that was mapped, and thus how to
  tell if it's there.

Being careless about this is rude, and deleting things without in-person
looking with due care veers into vandalism.   That's especially true when
the deletion is associated with an "X shouldn't be in the db".

Note that I'm not arguing that someone on the ground who knows what old
railroads look like and makes a good-faith effort to see if there are
ground features of railway=razed, and doesn't find them, is being rude.
Basically, if USGS would have put "old railway grade" on their map, we
should definitely have railway=razed.

For deletions, if I'm not local, and I'm not sure, I add a note or send
a message instead.

So I think the basic issue is that there is more-than-occasional
inadequate care towards the work of people who care about railways, to
the point where it's a project-wide issue cluster, rather than the
occasional spot mistake.

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