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If you're out doing a walking survey and someone asks you what you're doing what do you say?

Has anyone created a pamphlet, leaflet, or flyer (that I wasn't able to find just by Googling and searching the wiki) that I could carry around with me to give people when they ask what I'm doing?

If no one has made a pocket leaflet what would you put on one to explain to what you're doing to reassure people that you're not doing anything illegal?

asked 31 Oct '14, 18:38

DTHG's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


If I'm a robber and read this Q&A page, I would present myself as an OpenStreetMap contributor when someone is asking what I'm doing in a street, looking for unoccupied houses :-)

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answered 04 Dec '14, 15:06

Pieren's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%


In that case you should avoid wearing a OSM surveyors jacket and uploading public traces afterwards will also be a bad idea ;)

(04 Dec '14, 15:17) scai ♦

If I sense suspicion I then say " hello, in case you are wondering what I'm doing is I am trying to update a free internet map, It's very useful I say, especially for new addresses and new shops as otherwise they are hard to find, would you mind telling me the post code?" leaflets are a good idea to hand out. But maybe the people i meet feel less threatened as I'm a pensioner.

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answered 31 Oct '14, 22:57

andy%20mackey's gravatar image

andy mackey
accept rate: 4%

edited 03 Dec '14, 00:04

@andy mackey "But maybe as I'm oldish people feel less threatened" I should feel pretty safe then as a 67 year old mapper!

(01 Nov '14, 00:38) NZGraham

I have edited my answer to make it a little it clearer. Yes 1947 was a good vintage!

(03 Dec '14, 00:07) andy mackey

On the occasions that I have been asked what I'm doing I simply state that I am collecting data for OpenStreetMap which is a map equivalent to Wikipedia. People in my area definitely know about Wikipedia so that is usually enough. (Not really true that OSM is the equivalent to Wikipedia but close enough for that type of query.)

However one time the people in an area did not ask me but simply called the police to report a suspicious person. The officer who talked to me had no problems or issues with what I was doing. That episode made me decide I'd rather be inconspicuous when mapping. So I dropped the walking papers style mapping and now use OSMtracker (for gpx tracks and collecting information about speed limits, etc.) and OsmPad to collect house numbers. I can simply walk by looking like everyone else who's head is buried in their smart phone and nobody gives me a second glance.

Before using OsmPad, I used the sound record option with OSMTracker and a set of ear buds to collect addresses. Again, nobody pays attention to people talking mindlessly to themselves on a phone. But my post processing to get addresses into JOSM was much longer than the simple import of a OSM file from OsmPad.

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answered 31 Oct '14, 22:16

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%


Mentioning Wikipedia is a good idea thank you for mentioning it.

(31 Oct '14, 22:55) DTHG

Regulary happens to me, residential neighborhoods on a Sunday afternoon nearly always cause issues.

It is one of the things on my longer TODO list to produce a leaflet with a concise version of what the mapper is doing and why we are the good guys. This is not the same as what the currently available collateral does (which tries to sell the project to a potential contributor), and should address privacy and safety concerns and point out that OSM has the potential to increase personal privacy at least a bit.

Not really an answer, I know.

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answered 31 Oct '14, 20:43

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 31 Oct '14, 20:45

I don't have a pamphlet but do often get into conversations with local business owners and start talking to them about OSM. Once I've finished uploading all the details I usually send them a link to the relevant section of the map. More details here in a diary entry I posted a few months ago

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answered 31 Oct '14, 19:15

NZGraham's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%

Sending the business an email sounds like a great idea when talking to business owners or employees!

(31 Oct '14, 19:51) DTHG

Indeed there's a couple of leaflets. The English one is distributed by Andy Allan in the UK - he charges a little bit of money to cover shipping and handling. Here:

If you're not in the UK then, due to the high cost of shipping, it might be cheaper to print some yourself. A couple SVG sources are here but I assume that Andy would be willing to share his sources too if you ask him.

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answered 31 Oct '14, 19:05

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

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answered 31 Oct '14, 19:05

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 02 Dec '14, 17:42


I can't read or speak German but from what that says after Google translates and that was somewhat helpful. However, a better translation would be nice.

They no longer sell those jackets or I would buy one

Yeah I'm planning on using that stuff

(31 Oct '14, 19:40) DTHG

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question asked: 31 Oct '14, 18:38

question was seen: 7,474 times

last updated: 04 Dec '14, 15:17

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