User:Tom Morris/OSM for Wikipedians

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This is a simple guide for Wikipedians on how to contribute to OpenStreetMap.


Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap are similar in a number of ways.

  • Open licensing. Wikipedia is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, while OpenStreetMap is licensed under the Open Database License. The Open Database License is very similar to the BY-SA license and gives you the same rights but is better adapted for databases like OpenStreetMap.
  • Anyone can edit!


On OpenStreetMap, the practical goal is to produce a usable map for a variety of purposes. The map that OpenStreetMap produces can be used by any number of different people: motorists, pedestrians, cyclists, seafarers, tourists.

In addition to the map, there is the ability to "tag" places and objects with metadata. This metadata enables people to reuse OpenStreetMap in a variety of ways. For instance, Wheelmap is a website and open source app for iPhone and Android that allows disabled people to see which venues are wheelchair accessible. Users of the app and website are able to tag venues using the app, and that information is stored in the OpenStreetMap database so others can reuse it.

Unlike Wikipedia, original research is encouraged. You don't need any reference books: a notebook, a camera, a GPS device (including a smartphone) or just local knowledge is all that's required to start contributing.

How to contribute

A simple way to see how to possibly contribute is to have a look at a well-developed area of map on OpenStreetMap. While there is no featured article/good article equivalent certification, there are certain areas most people know to be reasonably well-developed, like London. London's West End on OSM. Note how there are roads, subway train lines, building outlines and a lot of points of interest like clothes shops (purple t-shirts), pubs (beer glasses), bars (cocktail glasses), cafes (coffee cups), restaurants (knife and fork), ATMs, churches (a cross, obviously), bus stops, post boxes, theatres, and much more. The roads are marked in different levels of detail, and there are markers for traffic lights, road direction and so on.

Now look at where you live. Does it have that level of detail? Are there inaccuracies in the map?