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I recently found out that a huge amount of data has been deleted or changed in improper ways by the user 'OSMF Redaction Account' e.g. in Area around Wangjing Beijing. The map becomes useless.

Is there any change that it gets repaired?

asked 24 Jul '12, 04:29

MrBoot's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 24 Jul '12, 09:39

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦

The map becomes totally useless in Poland :( Almost all roads are gone in some cities (for example Gdansk)!

(27 Jul '12, 10:42) Paweł Paszczak

OpenStreetMap wants to change to a new license. Therefore, anybody who has contributed data under the old license must agree to the license change, or their data has to be removed. We have made a lot of effort in explaining this to everyone. The process has been going on for years, and we have contacted people through mailing lists, forums, on the Wiki page and so on. We have made it so that people who log in and haven't agreed yet get a big message asking them to agree; we have even stopped them from editing a while ago. We have later emailed everyone who had not yet agreed, and then emailed them again after a while. We had huge league tables where everyone in each country could see who the big contributors in their country were that had not yet agreed (for China, see here:

For over half a year now we have had visual presentations of data "in danger", asking mappers to help re-map the areas in question so that the non-relicensed data is already replaced by new data when the time comes.

Finally, in the last two weeks we started to remove data that had not been relicensed or re-mapped after all these years of effort.

What you are seeing is the result of removing data contributed by people who have not allowed us to use it under our new license. It's sad but OSMF believes it was inevitable.

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answered 24 Jul '12, 09:46

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%


Thanks for the nice explanation.

Still the result looks like vandalism or if somebody overwrite the values with an old backup. If just some ways would be missing, roads move to somewhere else or change attributes to something else. Even worse, in some areas new tracks show up.

(24 Jul '12, 10:03) MrBoot

Perhaps you could give an example of a new track that has shown up as a result of the redaction process?

(24 Jul '12, 10:56) SomeoneElse ♦

examples for a new way that shows up:

  • .way id="16266680" user="OSMF Redaction Account" uid="722137" visible="true" version="5" changeset="12392445" timestamp="2012-07-20T21:17:43Z"> .nd ref="1666827230" /> .nd ref="824055767" /> .nd ref="824055763" /> .nd ref="824055770" /> .nd ref="1666827236" /> ./way>

example for removed tags:

  • .way id="23383764" user="OSMF Redaction Account" uid="722137" visible="true" version="13" changeset="12392445" timestamp="2012-07-20T21:18:14Z"> .nd ref="1351024112" /> .nd ref="1351024104" /> .nd ref="746511914" /> .nd ref="746441959" /> .nd ref="746441972" /> .nd ref="746496428" /> .nd ref="332612009" /> .nd ref="1807791851" /> .tag k="name" v="北四环东路" /> .tag k="oneway" v="yes" /> ./way>
(25 Jul '12, 03:49) MrBoot

It would be very useful if the mainstream tools: JOSM, potlatch, showed symbols showing where data is gone. Or maybe keepright is the right tool. I'm happy to remap, but want to stick with tools I know.

(25 Jul '12, 05:30) Bryce C Nesbitt

OSM Inspector ( has a Redaction Bot view.

(25 Jul '12, 07:01) Richard ♦

I'm gobsmacked. I understand the reasons for a license change. I've agreed to the new license. I've followed the discussion for the last few years, but not that closely. Then I look at the map the other day, and my first thought was vandalism. Damn, I'll fix that tomorrow. Then when I start, the more I look the more "vandalism" I see. What is going on? Then the truth becomes clear: OSM has inflicted this on itself! I can't believe it. The map is all but useless in so many areas. This will set back trust in the OSM data by years. The seemingly random nature of the redaction (from the end result perspective) makes it so hard to look at an area and see the problems. Seriously OSM? There must have been a better way than to sabotage your own data so badly?

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answered 25 Jul '12, 05:49

joycepg's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


From your edits I guess you're looking at Australia where the situation is indeed bad. In the rest of the world the map is 99% unaffected; only Poland has a similar situation to Australia. Here in the UK, for example, you'd be hard pushed to notice any difference at all. It's a real shame that a significant number of prolific Australian mappers (and importers) felt unable to accept the licence but we can't hold up the process of OSM worldwide because of them.

(25 Jul '12, 07:04) Richard ♦

I'm in Australia. I also just noticed heaps missing here; worse, I noticed some (but not all) of my edits missing too. I thought I'd agreed to the licence changes when they were first proposed, including the public domain bit. Checked my account, it says "Contributer terms: accepted over 1 year ago".

I was away during the NearMap period, thus I missed out on the opportunity to trace from their most excellent imagery,

Could you give me some clues as to why some features I've added have gone awry? Presumably it's not random. Is it something to do with modifications by other mappers?

(25 Jul '12, 08:13) emexes

Regarding the prolific Australian mappers not accepting the licence: I suspect this is because of the NearMap debacle, which was indeed a shame. I am still embarrassed for OSM by some posts from near the top. Denigrating the mappers here is a bit of a low shot - OSM gave Australian mappers a (ripper) tool in conjunction with Nearmap, which was used with glee, until OSM abandoned the agreement with NearMap, thus invalidating the derived works. The prolific mappers didn't "feel" unable to accept; OSM made it so they were unable to accept. Some mappers lost the glee (and reasonably so).

(25 Jul '12, 08:29) emexes

Unfortunately the nature of OSM data is that people's contributions are often very closely intermingled, so removing the work of a non-agreer can indeed affect work done by others. For example, if you start a way on a node created by a non-agreer, that node will need to be removed which will therefore affect the way. It's a great shame and indeed the new Contributor Terms have a migration clause (3) to stop this being a problem again.

(25 Jul '12, 10:04) Richard ♦

Nearmap - I think you're being a little harsh. OSMF announced back in January 2008 that we were considering changing to the Open Database Licence. Nearmap made their imagery available in November 2009 so, really, they should have borne this in mind from the off. There was never any formal agreement between OSMF and Nearmap to "abandon". That said, I'll readily grant you that it was remiss of OSMF to allow tracing into the db without an assurance of compatibility.

(25 Jul '12, 10:07) Richard ♦

Thank you for the example of why map edits might have been deleted. After the initial shock wore off yesterday, I've stopped worrying about it and started fixing it.

(27 Jul '12, 01:38) emexes

Clarification: by "agreement with NearMap" I meant the alignment of licence terms between OSM and Nearmap. In trimming down the post to fit within the "characters left" size limit, and coming at it from "agree" as in "match" or "same", I failed to spot the alternative interpretation of it being a written or official agreement. Rats. I apologise. No more late-night posts from me.

(27 Jul '12, 01:52) emexes

Is it safe to trace from Bing imagery, or does doing so leave us open to future repeats of the current upheaval, given that there are signs that OSM intends to open up the terms further?

Signs being: 1/ the PD query when agreeing to terms, and 2/ Steve Coast writing "The other way of cooling this off is to not see the ODbL as the final step. I don't think it was intended to be. Once that's in place, then the field is open to discuss the next steps."

(27 Jul '12, 02:04) emexes
showing 5 of 8 show 3 more comments

Yes, if anyone works on that. Certain nodes have been deleted because of the license change.

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answered 24 Jul '12, 08:10

alexander-wilms's gravatar image

accept rate: 50%

No. Only surveying and other legal methods will do the job. Beijing is not the only town been hit. Take a look at Sydney.

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answered 24 Jul '12, 08:10

dcp's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

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question asked: 24 Jul '12, 04:29

question was seen: 9,989 times

last updated: 27 Jul '12, 13:39

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum