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Hello, all. I recently downloaded and audited an OSM data file for an area of Northern California. In it I found 44 orphan nodes and 25 orphan ways (untagged nodes not part of any way or relation, untagged ways not part of any relation). What is the best way to help clear these from the OSM database? Thanks. Roke Whitson

asked 14 Jun '16, 23:59

RokeW's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

You should try to understand the history of the objects (see object history, whodidit, OSMHV, attic, …). Were these objects not orphaned when they were created? Were they created as orphans? Was it just a single orphan object in a big changeset or were there many? Are the objects arranged in some special shape? Are there gps traces? Any recognizable from our aerial imagery?


  • you can find newbies needing help,
  • just the tags are missing and the creating user forgot to add them (mail the user),
  • you can find other problems in the related changeset,
  • (in year 2012, but maybe still today) that could be a surviving left-over from the redaction bot (license change) which may be an indicator that there is some feature missing (could be seen in aerial imagery sometimes).

At the end you may

  • contact the creator/modifying user (see escada's answer) and
  • add relevant tags, delete the object or leave a fixme tag with some already collected info for fellow mappers who might know the location better than you.

It would not be beneficial to just delete these objects. That could remove a valuable hint for other mappers that there is something (of importance) missing.

If you are still quite new to OSM then this might not be the right task to start with.

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answered 15 Jun '16, 06:34

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦
accept rate: 18%

edited 15 Jun '16, 06:39

Contact the mapper that created them via a changeset comment or private message in (of course) a friendly way. Wait a couple of days to give them the time to react. This way you give them the possibility to learn. In case they do not react, or when you see they have not been contributing in a long time, you can remove them yourself.

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answered 15 Jun '16, 04:25

escada's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

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question asked: 14 Jun '16, 23:59

question was seen: 2,659 times

last updated: 15 Jun '16, 06:39

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