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Most OSM mappers are amateur cartographers. Some I would classify as artists (they draw whatever they see).

The trouble is that poor mapping is less helpful for end users, can be difficult to maintain and is certainly laborious to correct (if some other mapper makes the effort to correct).

I think OSM could do more to educate OSM mappers and encourage them to be effective mappers. What could we do?

There is a helpful post on this help forum about common mapping mistakes. Perhaps this could be enhanced with some general best practices, becoming a list of dos and don'ts and then formalised as a Wiki article. Maybe this already exists, then how come common mapping mistakes persist? Maybe there is a better way to educate and encourage OSM mappers. Perhaps some polite enforcement is required, like sending a message to and OSM mapper informing them of a mistake and how to fix it.

asked 10 Dec '15, 11:01

stweb's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

closed 10 Dec '15, 11:13

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦

A best-practise to start:

KISS = Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Mapping should be useful and maintainable. In preliminary mapping, start with simple shapes and lines that are easy to edit and improve later on. Smooth curves made up of many points are difficult to edit. Connected points are difficult to edit. Draw areas as areas. Rather than spending hours producing artistic maps, consider adding new features that will be more useful to OSMusers.

(10 Dec '15, 11:20) stweb

and then formalised as a Wiki article

At which point people will add their own hobby-horses.

It could be a good project, but ideally one in the mould of (editing limited to a select number of people who know what they're talking about), not on the wiki.

(10 Dec '15, 12:42) Richard ♦

The question has been closed for the following reason "Question is off-topic or not relevant" by SimonPoole 10 Dec '15, 11:13

Please move this subject to either a mailing list or the forum. The help site is not suitable and not intended for discussion.

permanent link

answered 10 Dec '15, 11:13

SimonPoole's gravatar image

SimonPoole ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 10 Dec '15, 11:15


To add a bit more to this, there's a FAQ for the help site at:

Part of the reason that it tries to restrict to a strict "question and answer" format is that we've found in the past that that's what worked, and part is that the OSQA software imposes a structure that really doesn't work with to-and-fro discussion.

We do have lots of discussion forums for general and specific topics, and also regional-specific ones in various places. See for more details.

(10 Dec '15, 12:08) SomeoneElse ♦

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question asked: 10 Dec '15, 11:01

question was seen: 2,489 times

last updated: 10 Dec '15, 12:42

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