User:SomeoneElse/contacting new mappers

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There's been discussion (recently in the context of the Welcome Working Group (see [1] and previously [2]), but also previously) about whether contacting new mappers immediately (who invariably make mistakes in the first edits simply due to lack of experience and lack of appropriate help and documentation) is a good idea or not.

I decided to go through some old notes and look at mappers who started in around November last year, approximately locally to me (I'm in the East Midlands of England, but I stretched the net a bit wider for this exercise) both who I didn't contact and those who I did. The numbers for a relatively small area for a relatively short period of time are very much in "anecdote" rather than "data" territory, but here goes anyway:


New* Mappers Messaged

I sent messages to 14 mappers in total - I tried to make the messages polite and apologetic (see [3] for more info). Usually the mappers were creating e.g. non-joining ways, and the mappers were messaged between 1 day and 6 weeks after first editing.

1 / 14 replied but stopped mapping after being messaged

4 / 14 did not reply and did no more mapping.

4 / 14 were still mapping for 1 to 6 days after being messaged (3 replied, 1 didn't)

5 / 14 are still mapping now (all replied)

New Mappers Not Messaged

In roughly the same period, 23 new mappers popped up that I didn't message.

18 / 23 mapped on one day only.

1 / 23 mapped for two days

1 / 23 mapped for five days

1 / 23 mapped for 9 days

1 / 23 mapped for 15 days

1 / 23 mapped still mapping

What we can't conclude from this

Because the selection of "who gets a message and who doesn't" wasn't random, it's not possible to say "communicating with new mappers causes X; not communicating causes Y".

I was surprised how many of the "not messaged" mappers mapped for such a short period of time. One point that's worth making is that these mappers were often making different sorts of first (and often only) edits - it tends to be "correct one road name" or "add one shop". In a sense I think that that's good - people ought to be able to drop in, add one thing easily, and then drop out again. Not everyone wants to "become a mapper".

What it might be possible to conclude

The numbers are still very low, of course, but there doesn't appear to be a correlation between "receiving a message" and "stopping mapping". It's quite possible that a number of the "non-repliers" were similar to the 18 / 23 "one day" mappers weren't messaged - they'd done what they wanted to do and weren't interested any more. The roughly 30% "still mapping" rate is higher than I was expecting, though.


  • "New" means either "just signed up" or "hasn't mapped much or at all and hasn't mapped for for year or so".