How We Map

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OpenStreetMap is a social activity: it is a teamwork effort by hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.

OpenStreetMap has a tradition of making as few rules as possible.

Contributions to OpenStreetMap should be:

  • Truthful - means that you cannot contribute something you have invented.
  • Legal - means that you don't copy copyrighted data without permission.
  • Verifiable - means that others can go there and see for themselves if your data is correct.
  • Relevant - means that you have to use tags that make clear to others how to re-use the data.

When in doubt, also consider the "on the ground rule": map the world as it can be observed by someone physically there.

OpenStreetMap has very few rules on tagging. There are tagging standards but they evolve instead of being pushed through.

OpenStreetMap values local knowledge highly, but mappers should welcome edits from outsiders.

OpenStreetMap values community cohesion over data perfection.

You do not have to ask permission before modifying existing data. If you believe that you can improve something, then do it.

In talking to other mappers, always assume good intentions.

If you have a conflict with another mapper that you cannot solve amongst yourselves, involve other project members. Attend a local community meetup, post to a regional mailing list or forum section, or message them directly.

Occasionally you will be contacted by other mappers about edits you have made. Please do not ignore them. If the other mapper has taken the time to look at your edit and ask you a question, they deserve an answer.

Do not delete data unless you know (or have very strong reason to believe) that it is incorrect.

Do not engage in large-scale "cleanups" without securing the agreement of the relevant community or talking to the people whose work you aim to "clean".

You may believe your third-party dataset should be added to OSM. Do not bulk import data from other sources without first discussing and securing agreement on the imports mailing list.

See the Talk:How We Map page for discussion

See also