Meta: this was originally asked as a follow-up to this question: by user CueContext. It is a complex question which deserves an depth answer:

If I may, I would like to request further guidance, as this is not a personal view but rather a request from the Zoo executive team taking a pro-active role to improve (in their view) how their zoo is represented - based on how they wish to use OSM. To make this thread more complete, let me ask the question more generally in the following ways:

Case 1: In the case of private property, can / should the land owners be able to manage the OSM attributes for their land?

Case2: In the case of a non-profit that serves the public, can / should the land managers be able to manage their OSM attributes in ways that they feel best serve their mission and guest experience?

Please assume the intentions are noble and not malicious. In both cases, how do you balance the goals / needs of the OSM commmunity with the goals / needs of the those who are responsible for the land management and use?

Maybe the answer rests in how data layers should be modified up the stack, and not here? But still, who should really take ownership of the underlying OSM data?

Thank you (to anyone who may reply) for helping to clarify this important topic.

asked 12 Mar, 11:24

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 20%

edited 12 Mar, 17:34

Tordanik's gravatar image


can / should the land managers be able to manage their OSM attributes in ways that they feel best serve their mission and guest experience?

No. OSM records facts, not individual viewpoints.

Everything entered into OSM should be verifiable - . In other words, for a given feature, any two people should independently arrive at the same mapping.

If you want to build a map that reflects subjective criteria such as "mission and guest experience", there are several platforms that allow you to superimpose your own data on top of an OSM base. Umap is perhaps the best known:

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answered 12 Mar, 17:19

Richard's gravatar image

Richard ♦
accept rate: 19%

edited 12 Mar, 17:20

Everything entered into OSM should be verifiable - . In other words, for a given feature, any two people should independently arrive at the same mapping.

Ideally yes. I frequently come across other mappers who have very different ideas from me, about which areas to define as "park" (typically newbies) or what a "cycleway" is. I guess that means that OSM will not ever be perfect in that sense either. Note though that this doesn't mean that we shouldn't strive or that OSM isn't quite a useful project already.

(12 Mar, 17:54) Hjart

Managed property, like national parks or forests, are often a problem in OSM. The legal situation is often murky, for example the law might say that citizens can walk everywhere as long as they do not harm the wildlife, and the management interprets that as "walking is only permitted on the explicitly signposted paths". Anything else is "a safety hazard" and hence off-limits. The someone sees an unofficial path that is clearly being used and adds it to OSM, and suddenly it pops up on all sorts of hiking maps, and the park management complains to OSM.

The right way to handle these situations is that if the park management has the right to determine which paths are legal and which not, they should put up clear signs ("private path, no access"), and then we can map them as "access=private" in OpenStreetMap which should lead a hiking app to stop displaying the path, or at least stop suggesting routes along it.

So the general message to land owners and managers is: Use your powers to create the reality on the ground that you wish reflected in the map and everything will be fine. If you don't want a way on the map, then remove it from the ground and it will go away from the map. A way that is there on the ground, also has a right to be on the map. If you want the way to be marked private on the map, mark it private in reality. All this is easy; problems only arise if you want to "spin" the map for reasons of better guest experience. That would then call for either using OSM as a base map and drawing your own stuff on top, or setting up your own OSM rendering chain where you will have full control about which objects are shown and which not - of course that would only affect the map on your site, not what a random hiking app shows.

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answered 12 Mar, 20:42

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

You cannot expect to have exclusive rights to edit any area in OSM (even if they represent your private property), but there are tools that can be used to automatically notify you if anyone edits anything in areas of specific interest to you, allowing you to immediately revert or correct any edits that you may feel are not accurate/appropriate and so in effect take ownership of those areas.

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answered 12 Mar, 12:48

Hjart's gravatar image

accept rate: 13%

edited 12 Mar, 15:19


I largely agree with what you say, but would replace "not appropriate" with "not accurate."

(12 Mar, 14:11) neuhausr

Thank you all for your thoughtful answers. This thread seems to have covered the main topics, with alternative options to explore if needed. I can proceed now much better informed. The OSM community is great!

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answered 13 Mar, 16:39

CueContext's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 13 Mar, 16:39

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question asked: 12 Mar, 11:24

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last updated: 13 Mar, 19:33

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