[OSM-talk] Organised Editing Guidelines now officially live

Guillaume Rischard openstreetmap at stereo.lu
Thu Jan 10 15:26:02 UTC 2019

The Data Working Group is happy to announce that our new Organised Editing Guidelines have now been officially put online on the wiki at https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Organised_Editing_Guidelines

I'm happy to answer any questions here. In the meanwhile, here's my updated report.

We at DWG are, first of all, thankful for all the constructive input we have received, from the advisory board, the humanitarian mapping initiatives and the mapping community.

The organised editing guidelines took a lot of work to prepare. We received and integrated a lot of feedback to reflect consensus and existing good practice.

We looked at what similar policies would exist, on OSM or in other organisations. I believe that no other project, open or proprietary, has faced this exact issue before. On OSM, contributors generally understand the current policies on automated edits and imports. We wrote the organised editing guidelines in a similar way, while adopting a slightly softer approach – not following the organised editing guidelines isn’t an offence per se. Elsewhere, Wikipedia has numerous policies some vaguely similar, but the problems they face are quite different, and their policies tend to be a lot more complex.

Internally, we looked back at past problematic edits. We carefully wrote the guidelines and defined the scope to prevent those problems without creating loopholes or negative incentives like encouraging salami tactics. They are not meant to apply to community activities like mapping parties between friends or making a presentation on OSM at a local club, but only to ‘sizeable, substantial’ activities. We wanted something that doesn’t scare casual events off while letting us regulate a geography class gone berserk or a misguided volunteer mapathon.

We also didn’t want to set hard limits in stone since they would have to go back to the Board constantly if we need to refine exactly what falls under the guidelines.

Humanitarian activities deserve our fullest support. We therefore adapted the guidelines for them, both implicitly, by requiring only a best-effort approach, and explicitly, by exempting emergencies from the two-week discussion period. Some humanitarian edits have been problematic before, and the guidelines are easy to follow; a blanket exemption would send the wrong signal.

We saw the amount of corporate good will at SotM, the tensions in the community, and the (dis)organised edits that mappers have referred to us. It is good for everyone that those guidelines are now online on the wiki. Good actors, existing and new, will be able to trust clear expectations. The community will be confident that this is the consensus that will be respected. Confused newcomers will get a blueprint for a successful organised edit.

We wrote guidelines that are easy to read and follow and provide clarity on how good organised edits should run without having a chilling effect on them.

I’m glad that this project is now concluded, and am convinced that it will be a good thing both for OSM and for the OSM community.


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