Talk:Anonymous edits

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This page will be linked directly from Potlatch on the main site. Please do not use the main page for discussion. Put it here, or better still, on the talk list. --Richard 22:41, 27 October 2007 (BST)

Vacation mode

I dislike the enforcement to this kind of public editing. In principle, it's no problem when I am mapping around my home. Everyone should see my edits and make stats on them, if he or she want to do so. But I do not want this for edits outside my home region, because there is for example the possibility of generating a location and time based movement profile on myself.

So I really desire something like a vacation mode, which could be implemented as a property of the changeset, e.g. anonymous=yes. For such changesets, the database server should not hand out the mapper id to everyone. To contact the editor of such a changeset, you could make a contact form that sends a private message to the mapper.

I met this problem, because I am working outside my home region for some months at the time. So instead of fixing things in OSM directly I only have the possibility to flood OpenStreetBugs. To create an intermediate account is also not a good idea, as I have to register with an unused e-mail address. Using a disposable address for this is not really an option. It would be hard to contact me afterwards.

Some more comments on your reasons for public editing:

It's only your mapping username that is associated with changes to the map. If you don't want anyone to find out who Mapper32 really is, they won't.

In principle, only one correlation between your real name and your OSM id somewhere in the Internet is enough to by-pass this. So your approach is security by obscurity, not security by design. Trying to prevent myself from this means: not to go to mapping parties, not to contact local mappers, not to tell someone that I am working on OSM. To give you an example: I told my colleagues about OSM. The next day, one of them asked me, if I am the mapper called Plasmon. Maybe he guessed, that I edited the area around the company's building. It's not a big thing to mention this little fact on a website...

The change brings us more into line with successful communities like Wikipedia. If you have an account at Wikipedia, your username is always described in the history of pages you edit, and people can send you messages. Even if you don't have an account, your IP address (your computer's unique identifier on the Internet) is marked, which people can use to send you messages via Wikipedia.

IP addresses typically change at least every day, so anonymous editing is possible! And Wikipedia does not contain any time-location related information about myself. So this comparison is not valid.

Unfortunately, this meant that anonymous mappers - usually accidentally - could delete other people's hard work, and it was impossible for anyone to contact them. If experienced OpenStreetMap users had the chance to contact such users, via the site's own message system, then they could help them to avoid such mistakes, reducing the chances of work being deleted.

Technically it was not impossible to contact them, as all necessary data was stored in the database. How else should the "Make my edits public" button work? It would have been no big thing to make an anonymous contact form, let's say to send a private message to the editor of changeset #12345. It is not necessary, that everybody knows his OSM id. It is enough, if this assignment is stored confidentially in the database.

Thanks a lot.

--Plasmon 18:47, 6 March 2010 (UTC)

These seem like valid concerns, on the other hand nobody else seems to be too worried about any of this. Your suggestion of an "anonymous but contactable" mode for changesets, might be viable.
It would be awesome if new users didn't have to register an account at all to edit, just like on wikipedia. Bare in mind though that our anti-vandalism capabilities are rather more limited than on wikipedia. It's more complicated because map data is more complicated than text (in particular change rollback is more complex) There's development work to do in this direction before we try adjusting our policies on anonymous editing.
-- Harry Wood 20:38, 6 March 2010 (UTC)