[OSM-talk] Automated edits code of conduct

Andy Townsend ajt1047 at gmail.com
Tue Jul 12 17:35:44 UTC 2016

On 12/07/2016 17:29, √Čric Gillet wrote:
> So at least one user should reach out to the contributor before 
> involving the DWG ? That would be great but that's not currently the 
> case in my experience.

The vast majority of my DWG interactions with other OSM users are "if 
you see something amiss, please comment on the changeset discussion so 
that the person making a mistake knows there's a problem".  It's 
actually rare for DWG members to see something and act immediately; most 
are reported to us directly, often by multiple users.

What might happen is that we jump fairly quickly on obvious sock-puppets 
(see for example the ones at the top of the 
http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/SomeoneElse/blocks_by list - but even 
in that case the recipient has a clear route to engage with the DWG to 
say "you made a mistake").

To my mind, the biggest and most important requirement in 
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Automated_Edits_code_of_conduct is 
"document and discuss".  It's important that large-scale edits 
(especially worldwide ones) catch the ear of those mappers and data 
consumers that they're going to affect.  Also, sometimes well-meaning 
tag-changers sometimes don't have as much domain knowledge as others 
about the things that they're proposing to change (the "trees" change 
mentioned upthread was a good example of this - most needleleaved 
(coniferous) trees are evergreen, but not all, and the person making the 
(undiscussed) change didn't know that).  Discussing proposed changes in 
the open means that everyone can benefit from that wider knowledge.

It's also important to remember that OSM is supposed to be something 
representing the real world, not a bunch of data that is semantically 
described by the wiki.  Essentially, it's a geography project, not a 
computer science one*.  There will be cases where the data that's in OSM 
is "a bit woolly", and doesn't quite get the sense of a real-world 
entity across (but without an on-the-ground survey it's difficult to say 
what the problem is).  Sometimes the fact that OSM mappers have captured 
something that "doesn't quite fit" OSM's frequently used categories is 
really useful, because it identifies something that we should categorise 
better - so it's important that the _sense_ of what the original mapper 
reported is kept, rather than their square peg being hammered down into 
a round hole**.

I've read through your posts in this thread, and while it's clear that 
you have an issue with the way that things work now, I can't see what 
that problem actually is.  Can you provide some specific examples of DWG 
actions that you think were inappropriate?  What do you think should 
have happened instead?

However do bear in mind that just like the vast majority of people in 
OSM everyone in the DWG's a volunteer.  Some volunteered; others were 
asked to join but everyone's unpaid.  Also bear in mind that everyone in 
OSM's a human being and deserves a basic level of respect - even new 
users creating invalid POIs simply because they don't realise they're 
editing a worldwide map.

Best Regards,

Andy (aka http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/SomeoneElse , member of the 
DWG but writing in a personal capacity).

* full disclosure - I'm part of the problem here, as I'm a computer 
scientist rather than a geographer by trade.

** part of my background was in statistical analysis of 
electromechanical data (while that was still a thing), and a key lesson 
from there is that you need to keep as much data as possible in order to 
be able to detect odd or expensive events as they occur - part of this 
has since been described as "black swan theory", but there's a bit more 
to it than that.

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