User:SomeoneElse/new mapper messages

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Note that this page was written a few years ago, and could do with a rewrite to include details of other contact mechanisms such as changeset discussion comments. The principles of "let people learn" and "try and be nice" still apply though.


There have various discussions about how best to help new mappers (e.g. https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:Rw/Proposal:Welcome_Working_Group). People say "we ought to do something"; and other people say "yes, but let's not appear to be too creepy".

Below, for what it's worth, is what I tend to do.

The idea is that editing the map is actually quite difficult, and the first edits that people make will have mistakes in them. However, people will tend to correct their own errors, given time, and even mistakes are worth having if there was no local input before. Imperfectly added POIs from one local are worth more than perfectly traced imagery from 10 armchair mappers.

1) Look for new mappers near me.

2) Are there any problems? (no = 3, yes = 4)

3) Note down the name so that if I see any edits of theirs in the future I don't need to double-check.

4) Are the problems serious (i.e. break existing stuff on the map, not just errors in new stuff) - (no = 5, yes = 6)

5) Wait until they've either made more edits (7) or a few weeks have gone by (8)

6) Try and compose a polite message explaining that "something has gone wrong" (i.e. not saying "you've done it wrong"), describing the issue and how to correct it. Sometimes (rarely) I might suggest "perhaps it would be easier if I reverted those changes so that you can start again". Then wait for either a reply or a subsequent edit (7). The message tries to be personal (from one human to another, not from a machine), customised (so that it exactly describes the problem and how to fix it), local (I'd say things like "when I was last at XYZ...") and apologetic ("the documentation is wrong, it's really easy to miss XYZ"). I'll usually also mention it on the #osm-gb IRC channel (so that everyone doesn't pester the same mappers).

7) Are there more of the same problems? Does it look like they're getting better? If yes, (7), if no (6).

8) Three weeks have gone by since the last edit. Perhaps try an email as per (6), or perhaps (if that looks unlikely to work) just fix it.