Talk:About OpenStreetMap

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Discuss the contents of the About page here

History and information about who hosts this?

I've looked around and it's not obvious who created and who hosts OpenStreetMap, or how it is funded. It might be obvious to long-standing users, but it took me a while to find anything (via the Donations link). I've added a note about the OSM Foundation. Dave W Farthing 17:37, 5 October 2010 (BST)

Thanks for adding that section. Of course we need to avoid jamming in more and more information. Maybe we need a one-in-one-out rule on adding sentences :-) but yeah, the foundation is important -- Harry Wood (talk) 13:31, 29 August 2014 (UTC)


Can I suggest that this article, unlike almost all other articles on the wiki, should be written for an 'outsider' such as a journalist or researcher. The reader will therefore need a brief introduction to the many aspects of the project without getting lost in details. They may want to know how it started, who started it or how it is organised; they may be curious about who 'runs', the role of the Foundation and how it is funded. There should also be a history section and charts showing growth in contributors and data. PeterIto 12:12, 18 January 2012 (UTC)

"brief introduction to the many aspects of the project without getting lost in details" would be the aim yes. There's a million different ways of writing this page. I can accept that my way is not the only way. But I have to point out that this page is now less brief, and takes the reader straight into a license section as compared to the way it was a month ago.
At some point I'll pile in and make some improvements instead of just grumbling about it. I'm a great believer in wiki processes, but I'm also trying to step back at look at the philosophy of it, because we're struggling with certain types of pages, particularly where there's different ways of explaining and giving an overview. So here I'm just noting that these recent "improvements" have (arguably) all added up to a step backwards.
-- Harry Wood 11:30, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I've watched edits spawn across many different introductory/summary pages recently; what ought to be recorded is what purpose each of these should serve, to keep them focused and to keep some of them short enough.
  1. There's people who don't (maybe yet) care about editing, or data, or technical - just a brief "what, why and who", i.e. the elevator pitch. I believe this About should be this short.
  2. There's people who want maps: they might not know how they want them, i.e. the question might be "I want maps for my garmin/my website/my phone/my game. Is it free?" The content is like the free tiny brochure you might even pick up at a tourist information desk - easy steps to common results, but can include a short "there's more" section. Software developers might start here, but the technical stuff (or even references to it) shouldn't IMO be the first thing other map users see.
  3. There's people who've learned they could edit the map (might be they were in the previous category just seconds ago); they're not really interested in legals or the other benefits of the project, but rather "what can I edit, with what, do I need a GPS, Good practice etc". A "subtype" are those who first just want to fix an error they've spotted, but, for the sake of the data quality, who ought to read some general guidelines about the editing before they continue beyond their first fix.
  4. There's people who've worked on the map for some times, who've stumbled upon the mailing lists, or irc, and are getting immersed in this project, but haven't yet had time to read through the mailing list history or what changes or discussions have taken place for example in the proposed features "process". Might be the ones that didn't make it to the last local pub meeting, if such exist.
Also, the FAQ has questions from all of these categories mixed together - but then there's also Developer FAQ?; I don't think it would make sense to split it, but somehow restructure it. Back to the summary pages: so far I've seen About, Using OpenStreetMap, FAQ, Map Making Overview, Mapping, Editing, Beginners' guide; Develop looks like the "technical stuff" but turns out it's mostly about the server side of osm - is there even a "portal" for potential data consumers? The details (importing to your db, tools for preprocessing, setting up your own rendering, minutely updates) are there, somewhere. Alv 12:36, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Note that I have performed some cleanups on the various links used to also remove many redirects on the main page as well as some other important pages of the wiki: the About page, and the Beginner's guide, the "Press Kit" (in all their translations), as well as in the Welcome template sent to "new" users.
More cleanup remains to do (there are tons of errors in naming conventions and in categories), but these changes should facilitate the general maintenance and coherence of the wiki, as well as its overall aspect, in order for it to look more user-friendly, and more seriously managed.
I'll go on performing those corrections (including facilitating the internationalisation). Many of those edits would have been easier if I could use a simple bot (such as, widely used in Wikimedia projects) for things like resolving many redirects, fixing typos, helping recategorizing of collections of articles. But for now all those edits were made manually by inspecting the "Special:" pages showing long lists of problems. — Verdy_p (talk) 02:44, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

The page was recently rewritten by User:Tmcw, but no the version from Jan 2011 is still a better 'about' page in my opinion. The current version seems cluttered with links. In the very first sentence we link the 'copyright' page twice, and do we really want a mention of Google Map Maker in the very first sentence? -- Harry Wood 14:28, 5 October 2012 (BST)

brief introduction. elevator pitch

OK I am now seriously planning to revert to the version from Jan 2011. To summarise the reasons:

  • The page should be "brief introduction to the many aspects of the project without getting lost in details" to quote from Peter
  • It should be just a brief "what, why and who", i.e. the elevator pitch to quote from Alv

This is obvious, but difficult to achieve on a collaborative wiki page actually, simply because people tend to edit the page to add things. It's almost comical to me that we all have such a clear idea of what the page should achieve, and yet with all the edits which have taken place over the past two years, the most effective way to achieve these objectives now is to revert the page to a version as of January 2011. ...and yet it is true. I can think of no better edit right now.

-- Harry Wood (talk) 11:31, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Links to update would be for the Foundation and Mapping milestones for places. The reference to Potlatch and JOSM are out of date. Andrew (talk) 13:03, 27 November 2013 (UTC)
DONE the revert
I went away and forgot about this again for a while but... done it just now
Thanks Andrew I've corrected those links. Actually I rewrote the 'The Map' section to reflect the more modern situation. "viable alternative" etc.
So now that we have a nice slim 'About' page again, as far as I'm concerned, everyone is encouraged to not add stuff! Remember folks: "brief introduction. elevator pitch"
-- Harry Wood (talk) 13:47, 29 August 2014 (UTC)

Deletion of navigation bar

I propose to delete the navigation bar containing help, upload, browsing, editing and this page. Please discuss at the Upload page. --Cantho (talk) 05:58, 10 February 2014 (UTC)

"free, editable map" vs "free geographic data" at this page?

See Main_Page and [1] for reference. Xxzme (talk) 11:35, 18 February 2015 (UTC)

I'd second that question. Primarily, OpenStreetMap is a database, while all maps, derived from it, are secondary products. Understanding this concept is quite important for newbies, because otherwise they could get completely wrong idea of OSM, as "drawing a map" instead of "describing the real world objects in formal manner". It was stated many times that OSM is a data provider, not an online map service. User Xxzme, who brought this wording here, indeed created a lot of hassle for Wiki contributors (including me, and I have filed a couple of complains regarding of that before) on other pages, but it doesn't mean, all his contribution should be automatically wiped by formal reason of "broken English". Why native English speakers can't just fix it, since it makes perfect sense?--BushmanK (talk) 20:35, 24 December 2015 (UTC)

This article seems to be intentionally written in a casual, friendly manner. Thus the word "map" fits the overall style of the text far better than the technical term "geographic database". Of course we need to eventually communicate the concept of data that is independent from any particular map style, but I think it's ok to do this after newbies have discovered how easy it is to contribute to OSM, rather than as a first impression. --Tordanik 13:04, 27 December 2015 (UTC)
Please, read this diary entry, containing most of my reasoning base for this issue. In addition to that, I have to say, that nobody knows, what is the typical behavior pattern of the newcomers. "Deterring newbies with scary words" is a belief and nothing else. From my experience, I know, that people starting to read documentation (wiki) only after gaining certain small experience, not before starting to do something. Therefore, it would be completely acceptable to introduce them to real concepts instead of "friendly facade" which is another myth. --BushmanK (talk) 18:10, 27 December 2015 (UTC)