[OSM-talk] Responding to vandalism

Manohar Erikipati manohar at mapbox.com
Thu Mar 16 13:47:25 UTC 2017

Hi all,

Last saturday, Central park in New York City was vandalized by a new
OSM user `Meowthreetimes` in all the map edits:

- 46756622 introduced a fictional lake inside Central park
- 46756461 renamed Central park in
- 46756506 introduced a fictional lake near Fort worth Dallas

It took 2 days for the edits to be noticed and reverted on one of the
most popular locations in the world.

This was possibly preventable with a more active mapping community,
but a previous incident [1] highlights how simple cases like dragged
ways can stay around the map for months under the eyes of local
mappers. The current strategy of leaving changeset comments to users
to prevent bad edits does not scale, especially if the mappers do not
read messages like Maps.me editors [2], or if there are no expert
mappers in the area who are knowledgeable in reporting and reverting

Thinking out loud on how we could better improve the current process
to act on bad edits:

- DWG currently acts promptly on incidents reported via email, but we
need a more accessible mechanism that allows new users to report such
incidents directly from the website or editors. The email details and
existence of DWG, is only available currently in the wiki [3]
- Auto-blocking known vandals to prevent repeated attacks [4]
- An organised repository to report and learn from previous attacks.
There seems to have been an effort to do this many years ago on the
wiki [5]
- More visibility, awareness of QA tools and history tab on the OSM
homepage. Most of the really powerful QA tools like osmhv and osmose
are only known to advanced users.

It would be great to hear more approaches that could protect the map
against common mistakes and intentional attacks. Much of the world
lacks an active mapping community, so it is up to a small set of power
mappers to catch and revert most of the bad edits [6]. Building better
support systems to respond to bad edits could help more experienced
mappers focus on community building activities.

[1] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/PlaneMad/diary/40491
[2] https://github.com/mapsme/omim/issues/4188
[3] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Vandalism
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Autoblock
[5] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/List_of_Vandalism_Changesets
[6] http://osmcha.mapbox.com/?usernames=woodpeck_repair%2C+zool%2C+SomeoneElse_Revert%2C+mavl%2C+pnorman_mechanical%2C+_sev%2C+OSMF+Data+Working+Group%2C+Peda%2C+FTA_dwg%2C+Deanna+Earley%2C+Firefishy_repair%2C+drolbr%2C+emacsen_dwg%2C+sly&is_suspect=False&is_whitelisted=All&checked=False


Manohar Erikipati

osm : manoharuss
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