[OSM-talk] Beware Pokemon users

Toby Murray toby.murray at gmail.com
Sat Dec 31 01:41:33 UTC 2016

As an update to my original message:

I have been active on /r/TheSilphRoad over the past couple of days
commenting and clarifying some things. I have seen a couple other
OSMers there too. Yesterday someone started a discussion titled "Our
impact on OSM, might be bad" so at least the POGO community is aware
of the problem now.

I've seen a couple of people complain that their valid edits have been
reverted. I'm not sure if that might just be browser caching making it
look like their edits weren't applied or if someone did actually
revert their changes. I have been asking for links to changesets to
investigate but haven't gotten a ping back yet. But please do be
careful to not revert too much.

And if you do revert a changeset, please leave a changeset comment on
the original edit. I reverted one changeset that looked very much like
vandalism but after some discussion with the user it turned out to not
be intentional vandalism, just lack of knowledge.

I do think the bad edits are slowing down though and overall we did
gain some good new users. There are a fair number of people who first
learned about OSM through these posts and there are several posts
about people seeing empty maps of their cities and getting the urge to
fill them in, regardless of Pokemon activity!


On Sun, Dec 25, 2016 at 11:17 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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