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.
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. This might be if something is missing or obviously wrong, like "The oneway is wrong. It should go northbound". These reports can be processed by map editors. Write the message carefully to make it easy for others to understand. For example "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 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
|New note location|
|Unresolved note location|
|Resolved note location (older such notes will not be shown)|
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).
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).
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
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/
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
- Notes support has been to JOSM since v.5070 through a plugin. Since v.7732 natively (without a plugin) with these functions (use the notes dialog): Create new, comment, close or reopen notes.
- 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
- onosm.org () - A site encouraging users to add business listings, with the fields placed within a note.
- Locus can show and create notes and you can comment on them.
Many notes in the USA are from craiglist.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). There are very many services based on Openstreetmap, one of which will probably provide the marker functionality you are seeking.