[OSM-talk] spammy "survey" questions.

Richard Weait richard at weait.com
Mon Mar 2 23:38:11 UTC 2015

I'm no fan researchers sending messages to OpenStreetMap users via the
messaging system.  I consider them an intrusion.  And I've complained
about them here, before.  There is another one making the rounds.
Seems like there are more of these every time I turn around.

I'd like to recommend that you "hack" any such attempts to survey the
membership, unless the survey is organized by the OpenStreetMap
Foundation. Hack them so that the "researcher" is  loaded with bad
data and so that future "researchers" are dis-incentivized from
abusing the community.

So how do we best hack research?

You could ignore the survey and surveyor.
Report them to DWG. They are spamming, after all.  And we hate spammers.
Report them to their university research ethics office.
I earlier suggested that we retag their university as a day care or
kindergarten. Or public toilet.  But that would be wrong.  Don't hack
OpenStreetMap; hack the survey.

Take the survey and give nonsense data.
Be sure to use a proxy or TOR so they don't even get meta-data.
Remove any identifying data if they provide a tracking link to the survey.
Give a nonsense user name if they ask for it, some fictional character
like like Dr. Liz or JohnSmith.
Reply to all geographic related questions with "Null Island" or the
equivalent in your national mapping scheme.
Answer all quantity related questions with prime numbers.

To be clear, there is great opportunity for OpenStreetMap to learn
about itself through research.  But that will have to be done in
coordination with the Foundation and under our terms.  This nonsense
of some half-baked, clueless, noob[1], collecting data that they then
keep secret, or monetize via one of their corporate overlords, just
doesn't fly.  Publishing results in a closed journal, just doesn't
fly.  They don't have to demonstrate the ignorance that they
demonstrate.  They could be following Muki's excellent code of
engagement[2] but no.  They never do.

But hey, if you like pointless surveys, go ahead and answer them.

If you like effective surveys, then go out and do a foot survey in
your neighbourhood and improve OpenStreetMap data.  See what I did
there?  "Survey", get it?  :-)

Best regards and happy mapping,

[1] full of good intentions, I'm sure.
[2] https://povesham.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/observing-from-afar-or-joining-the-action-osm-and-giscience-research/

More information about the talk mailing list