[OSM-talk] Quality (was: The point on the OSM Response to the DR Congo Nord Kivu Ebola outbreak)

Jean-Marc Liotier jm at liotier.org
Wed Dec 12 22:30:43 UTC 2018

On 12/12/18 2:16 AM, Ralph Aytoun wrote:
> I am also concerned about the quality of the mapping that is tying up 
> projects because it takes up so much validation time. [..]
This perception is (don't take it personally - I answer your message but 
I'm not singling you out) a symptom of a widespread problem: quality 
perceived as a separate activity, an extra cost tacked on the actual 
productive work.

Considering the quality assurance process as a distinct set of 
activities has the very unfortunate effect of creating an unnecessary 
conflict with production.

- Start with a clearly defined objective quality goal, just adequate for 
the planned purpose of the data
- Teach contributors that not meeting this goal is worse than doing 
nothing: negative value
- Monitor contributions in real time, to catch deviations before they 
snowball... I love Bjoern's idea, though OSMCHA works for me
- Reiterate !

Quality is the essence of the whole activity, not a distinct step.

Yes, it spoils the fun for new contributors thrilled to start mapping 
away and see their gamified metrics take off spectacularly in a rain of 
digital achievement awards. But it also helps them make sense of what 
they are doing instead of launching them on an open ended trip with a 
hazy purpose - and what is better than to find meaning in a task ?

Normative leadership may feel incompatible with a flat collaborative 
forum such as Openstreetmap, but it makes sense within a directed 
project with a declared purpose, to which contributors voluntarily 
participate. If they trust the project leadership enough to join as 
contributors, they may expect the normative guidance and even be 
disappointed not to feel it from the leadership.

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