Submissions:2018/OpenStreetMap’s worldview: handling disputes on a map that anyone can edit

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This submission has been accepted for WikiConference North America 2018.

Theme (optional)
Harassment, Civility, & Safety (or maybe Tech & Tools, not sure)
Academic Peer Review option
Type of submission
Minh Nguyễn
E-mail address
Wikimedia username
Affiliation(s) (optional)

Now that OpenStreetMap data is making its way into many more Wikipedia articles via Wikimedia Maps, it is more important than ever for Wikipedia editors to understand OpenStreetMap. This talk compares and contrasts the two projects’ content policies, countervandalism tools, and anti-abuse processes, especially in the context of geopolitical disputes, and proposes potential areas of collaboration between the projects.

Geopolitical disputes are among the most intractable content problems at Wikipedia, requiring permanent protection on many articles and frequent interventions by administrators and functionaries to moderate discussions and prevent abuse. One of the English Wikipedia’s most infamous edit wars was fought over the name of a city in Poland. Wikipedia strives to adhere to a neutral point of view that covers multiple notable viewpoints regardless of de facto or de jure status. Features built into MediaWiki enable the community to quickly spot and revert vandalism or edits lacking consensus.

As a fundamentally geospatial project, OpenStreetMap has had to address many of the same problem spots, but the project has taken a different approach than Wikipedia, due to the nature of mapmaking and a singular focus on data creation. Rather than a neutral point of view, the project prioritizes de facto status, though there is often additional data that can form the basis of map renderings that reflect alternative viewpoints. These policies can have an impact not only on the project itself but also on contributors on a personal level and data consumers on a professional level.

OpenStreetMap’s core software platform lacks built-in abuse filters or vandalism detection, so a sophisticated ecosystem of tools and bots has grown up around the project to solve these needs. Beyond international boundary disputes, there are many debates over more mundane details, such as road names and route number formats, that nevertheless are relevant to editors who focus on geographical articles.

This talk is related to my 2016 talk, “Be bold and edit the map”, but focuses more heavily on dispute resolution and countervandalism using recent examples from OpenStreetMap.

Length of presentation
30 min.
Special requests
Preferred room size
30 or so?
Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?
This talk is a continuation of my talk at WikiConference North America 2016 in San Diego, “Be bold and edit the map”.
If you will be incorporating a slidedeck during your presentation, do you agree to upload it to Commons before your session, with a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license, including suitable attribution in the slidedeck for any images used?
Will you attend WikiConference North America if your submission is not accepted?

Interested attendees

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  1. Imzadi 1979  03:35, 26 August 2018 (UTC)
  2. Legoktm (talk) 13:15, 21 October 2018 (UTC)


Thanks for attending! The talk was not recorded, but I’ve added everything I said (minus the Q&A) to the version with notes below:

The PDFs are pretty huge; go to the file description pages on Commons for a preview. Please contact me if you have any questions.

 – Minh Nguyễn 💬 09:09, 1 November 2018 (UTC)