Xvtn’s Diary | Calling All Experienced Contributors: New mappers need your help!

By neub9
3 Min Read

“Review Requested”

As beginners, many of us have likely questioned whether we should select the option that says “I would like someone to review my edits.” Have you ever wondered who actually reviews those requested edits? It turns out that, more often than not, no one does. (See note below)

In my experience, new contributors to OSM often make mistakes. Additionally, many new mappers do not continue with their contributions. While these points are understandable, we can improve data quality by correcting mistakes and hopefully make new mappers feel welcome and a part of the community.

The Solution

Fortunately, there is an excellent tool that allows experienced mappers to easily find and review changesets from new or suspicious contributors – OSMCha. You can also keep an eye on your local area. It’s really enjoyable!

  1. Go to OSMCha.org
  2. Log in with your OSM account.
  3. (Optional) Click on your OSM username dropdown, choose Account Settings. Remove text in “Review Comments Template”. If you don’t, when you verify a changeset as good or bad in OSMCha, it will make an aggressive-sounding comment on your behalf. I prefer to write my own comment on each changeset I review for new mappers.
  4. Click the Filters button and choose filters, see note 1 below.
  5. Click Save in the upper left so you can come back later without having to enter filters again.
  6. Pick a changeset on the left bar, review the changes, and optionally leave a comment. See note 2 below.
  7. In the upper right, verify the changeset as good or bad, and maybe add tags. (You can always change things later.)


Changeset Filters

For reviewing new mappers’ changesets, here are the filters I use:

  • Location – Draw a border around my local area. (I review all in Utah and some in USA west)
  • Reasons for Flagging – “New Mapper”, “Review Requested” (Set to AND!)
  • Review Status – “Not Reviewed”

Here are some things I might include in my comments.

  • Mention that rather than nitpicking, I’m reviewing changes specifically because they requested a review.
  • Recognize one or more things done right
  • Welcome them to OSM if they only have a couple changesets
  • Point out potential issues in a friendly way
  • Acknowledge that sometimes there are multiple ways to map things, or that sometimes people will disagree
  • Thanks for your contribution(s)!
  • Sometimes, I say they can ask me if they have any questions.

Changeset Stats

  • In January 2024, there were 37,000 changesets that were tagged “review requested.”
  • 14,000 of them were by new mappers.
  • Only ~500 of them received at least one comment.
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