[OSM-talk] Beware Pokemon users

Clifford Snow clifford at snowandsnow.us
Sun Dec 25 17:46:42 UTC 2016

I've been seeing a number of new users adding paths and parks. I deleted
three "parks" in Tacoma Washington just this morning. One was covering a
residential area, another was a group of trees behind some houses and the
third was a vacant lot. The area with the trees might have been an attempt
to add a landcover feature. But they were all done by the same user. None
of the changeset comments mentioned pokemon.

One user did reply to my welcome message. I had asked him if he was mapping
as part of a school project. He replied "No, a game I play uses path
information to generate its data, so I'm uploading my common walk paths,
getting familiar with OSM and its toolset. Me adding those paths is just
filling in gaps in that data that others may find useful. Thank you for the
welcome email! Happy holidays!" His edits were good for a new user.

Since Dec 17th over 20 new people have started mapping in Washington State.
A good number of them have been adding footways and paths. Unfortunately I
haven't been keeping records on how many corrections I've had to make.

There is some good coming from Pokemon, however I worry about the increase
in vandalism.

On Sun, Dec 25, 2016 at 9:17 AM, Toby Murray <toby.murray at gmail.com> wrote:

> There was a video uploaded to YouTube a couple of days ago that claims to
> show some possible evidence that Pokemon Go uses data from OSM to determine
> good spawn locations for Pokemon. There are also several threads on reddit
> under /r/TheSilphRoad that have similar claims. It is amusing to see their
> speculation and methods of testing their "evidence" which include adding a
> footway to OSM and then going out and playing Pokemon Go a couple hours
> later so see if it affected anything.
> Anyway, the theory being proposed is that highway=footway features in OSM
> lead to increased Pokemon spawn activity. Also, nests are supposedly
> located inside of recreation type landuse areas (golf course, park, play
> ground, etc) This has led to some players attempting to influence the game
> mechanics by, for example, adding a bunch of footways around their house.
> While that is a relatively benign change, some others have taken to
> retagging paths, cycleways and even residential roads to highway=footway.
> I have been watching any changesets that come in with the word "pokemon"
> in the changeset comments and have reverted a bunch of them. However I am
> worried about users who may not be using changeset comments so I thought I
> would at least let the wider community know that this is happening and if
> you see any odd reclassification of features to highway=footway, this is
> probably why. I have also seen some legit and useful edits so it isn't all
> bad.
> Some places where these discussions are happening:
> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiJ000T8GbE
> https://www.reddit.com/r/TheSilphRoad/comments/5jfnrm/
> how_to_find_the_new_rural_spawn_points/
> https://www.reddit.com/r/TheSilphRoad/comments/50ni6g/
> osm_data_spawn_points_relation_confirmed/
> https://www.reddit.com/r/TheSilphRoad/comments/54sy36/
> osm_query_to_identify_possible_nests/
> https://www.reddit.com/r/TheSilphRoad/comments/5jw4ep/
> new_spawn_points_in_my_area_align_with_osm/
> I would call their evidence circumstantial at best.
> Toby
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