[OSM-talk] Facebook mapping highways using AI in collaboration with OpenStreetMap

Andy Townsend ajt1047 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 24 20:55:41 UTC 2019

On 24/07/2019 20:56, John Whelan wrote:
> https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-49091093
> I note "Martijn van Exel" is quoted. 

I'm sure if the BBC wanted to do some actual journalism they could ask 
some OSM contributors in Thailand what their view was (see e.g. 
https://forum.openstreetmap.org/viewtopic.php?id=65056 for a selection 
of opinions) rather than just regurgitating FB's press release without 
it touching the sides on either the way down or the way up.

I'm sure that there's someone at the BBC who's job it is to deal with 
complaints about non-news like this (in fact a couple of clicks from 
that "article" takes you straight to 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/complain-online/ ), just like the DWG 
have to deal with complaints about, shall we say, "sub optimal mapping" 
from the likes of Facebook et al.

To be fair to Facebook (speaking entirely as an outsider to that 
organisation here), their approach seems to have moved from being 
entirely "mechanical" to involving more humans.  Facebook's early 
attempts were, in a nutshell, dreadful: 
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17856687 is a write-up from someone 
who was apparently working there at the time; it's pretty much a 
textbook example of "how not to contribute to OSM". Latterly they have 
been much more communicative with the community, as you can see by 
reading the Thai forum threads.

Other large companies contributing to OSM have followed similar paths; 
although sometimes it does require a rather excessive number of 
changeset discussion comments, OSM messages that users have to read 
before continuing to edit, longer blocks and reverts before they give up 
and actually try communicating with other people*.

Best Regards,


(a member of the DWG, so I've of course had to "bucket and shovel" 
Facebook mechanical edits in the past, but writing here in an entirely 
personal capacity)

* for the avoidance of doubt this wasn't Facebook; it was a smaller 
company offering B2B services in a couple of countries.

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