Notes is a core feature of the OpenStreetMap.org website for placing shared notes on the map to assist in mapping/editing OpenStreetMap. It is not intended for general discussion or storing information not otherwise used in OpenStreetMap; for example, "I was here on Saturday" or "There was a crime at this location".
Notes allow for two way communication, with the ability for a mapper to ask for more details if necessary. Although it is not necessary to be logged in to submit (or comment on) a note, it is beneficial to do so. Logged-in users will receive an email if comments are added to a note or the issue is resolved.
- 1 Using notes
- 2 More advanced use of notes
- 3 Notes API
- 4 Notes dump
- 5 Stats
- 6 Development
- 7 Common errors
The notes feature of OpenStreetMap allows both registered users and the wider public to quickly indicate where there are errors or omissions in the OpenStreetMap data, and for contributors to OpenStreetMap to know where their support is needed.
To add a note, click the bottom tool bar button on the right side of the main OSM map.
Move the marker to the correct position (as accurately as you can). Leave a short message for contributors to Openstreetmap to tell them what's wrong or missing.
Be clear in your message, for example consider that "path wrong" says very little of use, but "The east-west path on map does not exist on the ground" is very clear.
If you have an OpenStreetMap account, you should login first to have your note associated with your username, but casual visitors can easily add a note too. If you want to be more than a casual visitor, create an account.
To view all the current notes for an area go to the http://openstreetmap.org main map display, click the 'layer picker' control on the top right of the map, and select the 'Notes' checkbox (see image).
The note markers have the varying styles shown in the image below:
|New note location (while being added)|
|Unresolved note location|
|Resolved note location (older such notes will not be shown)|
If you are logged in you can comment on existing notes, ask the contributor questions (if they were logged in when adding the note), and also mark a note as 'resolved' (by which you are indicating that the error/omission has been corrected, or that the note isn't useful).
More advanced use of notes
To create a (perma)link which displays the map with notes already turned on (while not changing other layer selections) use the URL parameter
notes=yes (for example http://openstreetmap.org?notes=yes).
Viewing notes by user
If a user was logged in while creating or commenting on a note, the note or comment is marked as being posted by that user. You can see all of the notes and comments written by a user on the page www.openstreetmap.org/user/xyz/notes (where xyz is their user name).
Viewing notes by area (via RSS feed)You can view and subscribe to an RSS feed of all the note activity in your area. This allows you to keep an overview of the things reported in your area you map in. The URL for the RSS feed is
You can easily find the longitude and latitude values by clicking on 'Export' on OSM and then click on the link "Manually select a different area". Then you can drag the corners of the area you want covered in your RSS feed. The values in the left and right boxes (in the 'Export' area on the left) represent the longitude values, the values in the top and bottom boxes represent the latitude values.
If you do not want to generate the bounding box manually you can use this OSM Quality Assurance Tool: http://tyrasd.github.io/osm-qa-feeds/
GPX export of notes
You can export a file (in GPX format) of notes within a bounding box using a link like this:
(where the bounding box for the export is as so: bbox=[smaller_longitude],[smaller_latitude],[larger_longitude],[larger_latitude] )
Technically - this provides gpx waypoints where the note number is the name of the waypoint, and the comments are the waypoint description.
Notes are marked as resolved, not removed or deleted, with the data being retained for future reference. However, once resolved notes have aged for a small while, they no longer appear on the map view. The data working group can hide notes so they won't appear at all, but this will be done for reasons outside normal editing and mapping; e.g., notes that are insulting to people, or that contain sensitive/confidential information.
The Notes API is described on the main API page API v0.6#Map Notes API
It is OK for third party sites or apps that use OpenStreetMap data to include notes functionality through the API. This feature will however, only be useful if the quality of reports are high. Therefore it is important that the issue reports include sufficient information and detail for an experienced mapper to be able to fix the issue. Also, it is important that you make your users aware that this is to be used only for commenting on map data issues and not general aspects of your site or app.
Furthermore, it is important to remember, that this functionality is intended for humans to communicate with other humans (mappers). It is not a place to dump automated error checking.
As of August 2014, the entire notes database is downloadable from http://planet.openstreetmap.org/notes/. The dump file contains notes text, status fields, and all comments. As of August 2014, there were over 200,000 notes and over 400,000 comments, giving a compressed file size (using bxip2) of 13 MB. The notes dumps are produced using https://github.com/iandees/planet-notes-dump.
An archive of this dump file is also available on the Internet Archive on a daily basis. This is particularly useful if you are researching for notes made for a certain date. Archives are available since December 17, 2014.
You may recognise "notes" as a similar concept to OpenStreetBugs, which ran as a separate website and database. Integration of OpenStreetBugs into the main website had been discussed ever since OpenStreetBugs first appeared. The launch of "notes" brings this integration along with enhanced email contact features. OpenStreetBugs has now been phased out - congratulations to all involved in the transition!
Being part of the website, the code and issues list can be found under OpenStreetMap website on GitHub.
Applications using notes
- JOSM supports these actions for notes: Download in area, search, create new, comment, close or reopen. See the notes dialog help.
- OsmAnd's latest versions support opening, commenting on, and closing Map Notes (also through a plugin that you need to activate through the app settings). See: OsmAnd > Features > OSM Editing plugin
- OSM Note (live): a mobile web interface for dropping notes
- HSL Navigator prototype (live): a mobile web app using OSM data and OpenTripPlanner
- onosm.org encourages its users to add business listings, with the fields placed within a note.
- Locus can show and create notes and you can comment on them.
- Mapbox OSM comments system created by Mapbox (and used by their data team) can track and filter notes as well as changeset discussions
- Vespucci has supported Notes creation, viewing and creation since version 0.9.0 released in August 2013, replacing the previous OSM Bugs support.
- Download OSM Notes as GPX file from a boundingbox via http://www.netzwolf.info/kartografie/openlayers/notebbox.htm
- Download OSM Notes as GPX file from a boundingbox via https://github.com/richlv/osmnotes
Many notes in the USA are from craigslist.org which uses OSM data in their maps. Unfortunately, many of these notes are not applicable to OpenStreetMap because the error described in the note is a result of craigslist's separate geocoder and/or rendered tileset. Feel free to close the note if you're confident that the note only applies to craigslist.
A craigslist note is always anonymous and the description is as follows:
brief sentence from the user stating: for example: "the map is wrong," "the address does not appear on my map", "address is in wrong location", "the map placed me in the incorrect city;"
An example note:
bounds: (26.2924, -98.2023, -26.2881, -98.1919)
Map is showing wrong data here. no aparese en el mapa
The URL's box=yes parameter is not used.
Use of notes for adding a marker for personal use
OpenStreetMap notes are sometimes used by people familiar with other mapping services, mistakenly believing that they are designed for personal or publicity purposes. The following simple explanation of the notes functionality is directed specifically at those people (who might be referred here):
Thanks for adding a note to the OpenStreetMap data. It's quite common that people treat notes in the same way that they are used on other mapping services. This page has lots of detail, but essentially what you need to know is that in this particular case the notes functionality is intended as a way to communicate mapping errors and omissions only. Sometimes the difference between a personal note and one indicating a mapping omission is subtle, but if your note looks like it may have been added as a way to create a marker for private or publicity purposes you may find that another OpenStreetMap contributor 'resolves' the note (which means it's been marked as dealt with). Please refer to this help question for thoughts on what are appropriate methods of displaying personal markers.