Notes is a new feature of the OpenStreetMap.org website added in April 2013. Visitors can now "Add a note" to the map in order to easily mark errors in the map data.
This feature is only intended for discussions about the map data, and not for general purpose notes like "I was here on Saturday" or "There was a crime at this location".
All notes are always publicly visible to anyone.
To submit a new note, or comment on a note, it is not necessary to log-in or have an OSM account, but it is beneficial to do so. Notes are intended as a two way communication, and the ability for a mapper to ask for more details if necessary to resolve the issue is important. Logged-in users will automatically get an email notification if comments were added to a note or the issue was resolved.
|Dos and Dont's|
|Use this feature to report an error in the data or to give some additional information, for instance the name of a street or an address etc. When available, an OSM contributor will attempt to resolve it.|
|Don't argue. If you have something to discuss, please use some other contact channel (a mailing list, the forum, a personal meeting like a Stammtisch etc.).|
|Don't post general comments. You can't contact "the community" here. If you have a question, please ask it in an appropriate contact channel.|
|Don't use it to put your personal notes here. Notes should be of wider interest and make sense to other mappers|
|Don't create automated notes|
Adding a note
To add a note, click the bottom tool bar button on the right side of the main OSM map.
Leave a short message on the map if something is missing or obviously wrong, like "oneway goes northbound" or "bridge or level_crossing?". These reports can be processed by map editors. Add the message understandably and thoughtfully, e.g. not "oneway in wrong direction" because someone could have flipped the direction before the note is read.
If you have an OpenStreetMap Account, you should login first to have your note associated with your username. But one nice thing about notes, is that you don't need an account. Casual visitors can easily add a note. If you want to be more than a casual visitor, create an account or login
|location of a new note|
|marked error location|
Browsing the notes
On the http://openstreetmap.org main map display, a new tickbox in the layer picker in the top right, allows you to browse notes added by other people. Use this to solve all the problems in your area!
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).
RSS feedYou can 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
Seeing your own / a users notes
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 http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/xyz/notes where xyz is their user name.
You may recognise "notes" as a similar concept to OpenStreetBugs, which ran as a separate website and database. It's anticipated that OpenStreetBugs will be phased out and superseded by "notes", since it is now integrated into the OSM website and Notes has some enhanced email contact features.
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.
Integration of OpenStreetBugs into the main website has been discussed ever since OpenStreetBugs first appeared, and has been one of the Top Ten Tasks and the subject of a concerted development effort in recent years. Congratulations to all involved on bringing this live!
Being part of the website, the code and issues list can be found under OpenStreetMap website on github.
Applications Using Notes
- Notes support has been to JOSM since v.5070 through a plugin
- 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).
- OSM Note (live): a mobile web interface for dropping notes
- HSL Navigator prototype (live): a mobile web app using OSM data and OpenTripPlanner