I have recently begun mapping in a new city. A very active mapper, who himself mapped most of the city, keeps watch over all edits and has been behaving in a territorial manner. My edits in this city have repeatedly attracted sarcastic or hostile changeset comments, or reverts with no discussion, yet he is the only person who objects to my edits. This hostility makes me dread every new edit I make in his city. There are two problems:

  1. He has strong opinions about the "right tagging", and he feels that the way he originally mapped infrastructure is how it should stay forever, even if others could argue that the tagging is incomplete, misleading or obsolete.

  2. Like many editors (and like many local OSM communities’ organized mapping parties), I typically walk around and map on my phone, where traces are imperfect and small mistakes can happen, and then I later go back through the neighbourhood on JOSM and make tweaks and corrections. This editor claims that every single edit must be perfect from the very beginning, because OSMAnd Live updates hourly. He is threatening to revert my entire changesets, which overwhelmingly consist of useful additions, if a single element in them does not live up to his perfectionist standards.

In cases like this, I would firstly like to complain about this mapper. Criticism is fine, but it should be polite, plus this editor ought to first write a few words of welcome when he sees new mappers in his town – I fear that his hostility and sarcasm may drive less confident mappers or newbies away. What is the proper venue for drawing attention to this harmful attitude? (I can’t imagine it is the DWG, they have enough problems to deal with already.) Secondly, since this editor often disputes changes to infrastructure he mapped, where is the appropriate venue to invite third parties who can arbitrate?

These might seem like elementary questions, but in ten years of mapping all over the world, this is the first time I’ve encountered this kind of local mapper!

asked 28 Feb, 15:26

CRCulver's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

A good first step in resolving conflicts is asking yourself if perhaps you are not entirely right and the other party is not entirely wrong.

From looking at your edit history, it appears that you are in the (for a mapper, at least) enviable position of being able to travel to a multitude of places and have the spare time to map across Europe and Africa in just a few months. You appear to be a prolific cosmopolitan mapper and a seasoned ambassador for OSM.

The conflict you seem to have here is with a mapper who is nowhere near as well-traveled as you; the other mapper seems to largely restrict their edits to one country. Chances are that within that one country, they might actually know mapping customs better than you do. The other mapper also seems to be a regular participant in forum discussions in that country, unlike you. While that doesn't make them own the place, it does somewhat give the impression that you are the "guest" here.

Now you feel that the other party hasn't welcomed you as they should. They have not been polite, they have not welcomed you, and certainly this behaviour will scare off countless others, so you need to "deal" with this somehow! I (not speaking the local language) have looked at machine translations of the other party's changeset comments and found them generally, while not welcoming in the "American style", factual and friendly enough.

I don't of course know the full back story but looking at your own comments in discussions with the other party, I find them rather condescending, especially for someone who already takes a lack of welcome message as a slight:

  • "This portion of $CITY is very incomplete on OSM..."
  • "You do not own $CITY. I have spoken about your behavior with other mappers, ..."
  • "$TAGS are not meant to be combined in modern OSM ..."
  • "Please spare me the "we don't tag for the renderer". I have been an OSM editor for a long time now and I am well aware of that."
  • (talking about tags the other party used) "... Therefore, I will let both tags stand in future."

In one case there's a rather confusing discussion about whether tourism=artwork and historic=memorial can be combined (you claim in a changeset discussion to have removed tourism=artwork but I don't even see you removing it...).

I do not find your behaviour in this conflict perfect; in my eyes, you are just as much part of the "problem" as the other editor is. Accusing them of being "territorial" here on this forum (and apparently in your talks with other mappers) and therefore pushing your point of view ("hostility", "sarcasm", "harmful attitude") to a larger audience without inviting the other person is not the best style. Your claim that "he feels that the way he originally mapped infrastructure is how it should stay forever" is not truthful, it is a deliberate misrepresentation of the other side's position while ostensibly "looking for help".

As for your general question of how to solve conflicts like this:

  1. Try and talk (or write) to the other person, from mapper to mapper, in a non-competetive way. If you are the guest in their country and you expect a friendly welcome, behave like a respectful guest. Understand that local customs in OSM can vary and that rules you have learnt elsewhere might not always apply 100%. Say: "Hey, I'm new here but I've done a lot of mapping elsewhere in OSM. I'd like to be part of your community. Do you have a regular pub meet?". Don't say: "I don't see why your city should have tagging different from everywhere else in OSM".
  2. If differences are not resolvable, try to at least agree with the other person on whom you could enlist for mediation: "Hey, I don't want to overrule you here but I still think my tagging has something going for it. Where does the $CITY (or $COUNTRY) community usually discuss these things, and would it be ok for you if I raised the matter there?"
  3. If this doesn't work you could also try to enlist someone else from the community in that country as a mediator - email them directly and say "hey would you be willing to mediate in a conflict I have..."; refrain however from asking your friends to pile in on the other mapper in changeset comments as this will only harden the situation.
  4. And yes, if nothing else helps then you can email DWG (particularly since the other mapper in this conflict has already threatened you with doing that himself). They don't have super love powers that will make you suddenly understand each other, but they can at least send lengthy treatises about good behaviour to both of you so that both of you say "ok let's be friends just so that we don't have to read these DWG missives any more" ;)
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answered 28 Feb, 18:02

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 24%

edited 28 Feb, 18:15

Thanks for the feedback, Frederik. I certainly don’t claim that my edits are infallible and I’m willing to see where I am wrong (the tourism=artwork/historic=memorial was a learning experience for me in tagging and certain renderers’ quirks with regard to it – we were both wrong), but I reasonably expect to be engaged with instead of reverted without comment, or told that my edits – which strike me as, while not perfect, of ordinary OSM quality – will be reverted or reported to DWG.

My claim that the other editor opened with sarcasm is accurate, see the very first changeset comment I ever received from him. Even if my own comments can, as you say, be seen as condescending, a local mapper who monitors every changeset in his town should be encouraged to make a more welcoming first impression on new mappers in that town, lest others be scared away.

I’m sorry to hear that emailing DWG is the suggested course of action here if two editors can’t reach agreement on these relatively trifling matters. I know how busy you are, and it is a pity that there apparently isn’t some other authority that can deal with these disputes while you deal with all the vandalism and copyvio nightmares.

(28 Feb, 18:44) CRCulver

If there is a local or national community, it may help to try to find a way to communicate a bit of openness to this mapper's way with some backing. The next step is to ask the DWG for help. In both cases, provide links to the changesets.

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answered 28 Feb, 17:23

yvecai's gravatar image

accept rate: 10%

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question asked: 28 Feb, 15:26

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last updated: 28 Feb, 19:42

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