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Is there a way to "lock" or "protect" objects (nodes, ways, relations) from editing? This would be useful for objects, that can not be disputed, have stable verified position, correct tags etc. For instance Wikipedia locks frequently used templates or semi-protects some pages from anonymous editing (where high level of vandalism may occur).

asked 13 Sep '11, 21:05

Kozuch's gravatar image

accept rate: 8%

Pastitng a deleted comment of user "wolftracker": In the future I'd like to see some kind of editing etiquette guidelines published, or perhaps a method introduced whereby an editor's changes are sent to the original contributor for review, along with a short explanation for the edit. If its declined, a reason must be given. A non-response is taken as approval, and an unreasonable decline may be challenged and decided on by a team of elders. Repeated unreasonableness from either side could result in restrictions being applied.

(12 Jan '12, 07:30) Kozuch


It is neither possible nor desirable. Objects that cannot be modified by OpenStreetMap contributors have no place in OpenStreetMap; they could reside in a separate system (maybe "ClosedStreetMap"?) and be added to the mix by renderers that want to use them.

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answered 13 Sep '11, 21:24

Frederik%20Ramm's gravatar image

Frederik Ramm ♦
accept rate: 23%

edited 14 Sep '11, 12:41


As time will flow, I think some kind of protection will definitely be needed... it is just a matter of time.

(22 Dec '11, 15:57) Kozuch

When you properly understand how OSM works you will realise how wrong this would be. How can OSM be open if some data is closed to editing?

(22 Dec '11, 19:55) ChrisH

There surely would be more levels of locking... as I said, like Wikipedia has, for example semi-protected (for autoconfirmed users = users registered for about 4 days). I do not say this is a problem now, I say I think it will be in one the future. But we probably should not care about it untill it will be causing trouble.

(30 Dec '11, 09:59) Kozuch

To be honest, your determination to ignore the answers people give is starting to annoy me. We are not Wikipedia, we deal with any problems in a different way.

(30 Dec '11, 18:03) ChrisH

While this is not possible, the potential presence of a serious "source" tag (e. g. cadastral) helps in general to avoid destruction.

There are no real vandalisms on OSM (it is hard to see 'conflicts of opinion' like on Wikipedia for instance), rather, there may be errors with incorrect additions from newcomers, who then... come here to ask how to cancel ;-)

Now, this situation may change with OSM expansion. Wikipedia added 'lockability' quite late, many years after the begginings IIRC.

In brief: if you have input a lot of effort in an area, document it, quote your sources etc. --I won't dare to roughly update ;-)


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answered 14 Sep '11, 12:31

Herve5's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

edited 14 Sep '11, 12:34


There is certainly vandalism, although not that common. People making errors are more common though. e.g. New users not realising that if I delete that road and click save that it permanently deletes it from the map that everyone else sees.

(14 Sep '11, 12:50) Ebenezer

I can see that somebody could make malicious edits to the map.

However, since each edit is tracked, and the editing user is identified, it is fairly easy to identify the user responsible for making the changes.

That is not the case with Wikipedia, where anonymous users can make edits. Additionally, anonymity seems to lull malicious contributors into a false sense of security that their activity cannot be identified because they are merely an IP address, rather than a name. If those IP addresses are given (user or real) names the problem, mostly, goes away. The remaining persistent abusers can be dealt with more severely.

Nevertheless, Wikipedia and most other wiki, including OSM, still rely on soft security as as their primary protection against malicious (and accidental) changes. Soft security means all changes are able to be identified and any of them can be reverted or undone. Checking for change is something any wiki user can do, and each wiki user should do. Maintaining the map is a community responsibility.

Wikipedia only introduced other forms of protection to slow down the flood of anonymous spam that a popular website seems to attract.

(05 Jun '15, 15:47) Huttite

The only way is by monitoring nodes and areas and reverting changes made by other users. This has been done by Openstreetmap DWG, last time in Jerusalem because of Hebrew/Arabic problems.

But the answer is still no, you can't lock the data, and if you try to make reverts into an edit war you will probably be banned.

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answered 07 Jan '12, 01:28

emj's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

I would like to put the question in a different way. If you have a local business, editing opening hours would make sense of course. Same for contact details. The owner of that local business just wants correct info to be displayed, it's open data, but how can they protect their info if being changed all the time?

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answered 05 Jun '15, 11:16

yal's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


You can't protect that info from being changed. OSM depends on data being editable. I'm not sure how much the opening time of a business is used by data consumers. I think it's unlikely that someone else would change such a thing from an accurate value to something that is wrong. Vandalism on OSM is pretty rare and does tend to get spotted and removed quickly.

(05 Jun '15, 11:35) ChrisH

OSM is non-authoritative data, just like Wikipedia. The fact that you are the expert on something, does not give you priviliges othes don't have. The only way to work around this would be to use OSM as a base, copy the data to your own servers where only some people can edit. Then try to keep track of changes in OSM to ask whether the change is correct. And preferably also create a flow back to OSM to correct faulty changes.

But don't forget OSM is just half a million very dedicated people who will only change data if they are pretty sure that what is there is incorrect. Don't put too much effort in fixing a problem that hardly exists.

If real problems emerge, there are measures in place to correct these.

(05 Jun '15, 12:15) joost schouppe

If you're REALLY concerned, you can track edits. For example, you could periodically check on the OSM feature you created and see if it has changed (ie -, and check history). Or, keep track of all edits in a specific area via the WhoDidIt feed:

(05 Jun '15, 14:55) neuhausr

Location, location, location! Part of the problem is that some business owners want to locate their information where it will be noticed. They don't care that is it is in the wrong location, just that it is a well placed advert. Why do we see billboards on the highway? I would expect if the location of a billboard was put into OSM, some advertiser would want tags for the advert on the billboard, so the advert would display on the map too.

In another popular map application, I notice that business information is appearing at places other than the location of the business in question. Sometimes these are placed close to a nearby competitor's location. Perhaps that is accidental, perhaps not.

What an individual business owner wants displayed may differ from the consensus of what should be displayed that is agreed by the OSM contributors.

(05 Jun '15, 16:10) Huttite

I mapped two paths, a public_bridleway just inside a wood, and a permissive footpath, put in by the local council, which was just outside the wood, which had good views. They were only 5 metres apart, and so looked like a mapping error.
I added a note explaining why he wasn't an error. Presumably this would be enough to protect it.

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answered 22 Nov '11, 12:19

michaelinredhill's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

Hopefully. But one needs to read the note first.

(05 Jun '15, 15:50) Huttite

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question asked: 13 Sep '11, 21:05

question was seen: 10,854 times

last updated: 03 Jul '15, 11:27

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