How about limit new accounts?

We’ve probably seen the topics of vandalism in the last week. Our own drolbr chimed in with some more stories we likely didn’t know about.

One of the main weaknesses that OSM currently has is that basically every account can do anything and everything.
I’m sure some will disagree on this being a weakness, for those that think instant power is useful, I respectfully disagree. (see why at bottom of this post).

The main reason this is a weakness is that vandalism is essentially trivial. Fighting it is the thing that takes effort. Vandalism takes no effort whatsoever, really. Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

OSM has become so big that it has become a target, and the companies that depend on OSM financially likewise increase the target on OSMs back. Our pain is shared with those companies, afterall.

What about we recognize the value of an OSM account?

An OSM account is currently basically free. I can make 10 new ones in no time and they all have the same rights as my main one. Which makes them valuable.

I think we need to re-think this balance at a fundamental level. The OSM design today is really quiet bad at creating local ownership of data. While that would be great way to ensure quality.
Today, a user that babysits a neighborhood or town would either need to be pretty good with 3rd party websites or spend a huge amount of time on OSM org.
The balance need to be changed, the tools need to be build. But there is no incentive to do so. Lets create that incentive.

Here is my thought:

Account levels.

People get higher levels by getting changesets approved by people that already have higher levels.
The idea is that normal people won’t see these limits as a problem. They would normally grow into this just fine.

level 1: (first start).

  • limits on changeset size, area wise. You can’t edit an area larger than 5 x 5 km in a single changeset.
  • limits on number of changesets per day. Say, 10 per day.
  • limits on number of properties that can be deleted in a changeset. No more than 25. Deleting a point with 30 properties is thus not possible.

level 2: user got 10 of their changesets thumbed-upped. Regardless of comments / discussion.

  • Area increases to 15x15km per changeset.
  • number per day goes up to 25 / day
  • properties that can be deleted goes up to 100.

Level 3; user has created at least one changeset on 14 distinct days, that got thumbed-up

  • numbers increase to sane levels.
  • user can thumb-up changesets
  • users can comment on other people’s changesets.

level 4:

  • numbers increase to insane levels. The level that bots and maintainers only do today.
  • user gets access to a stream of changes in a certain area or important properties, llowing them to be a local maintainer or overseer of their designated area.

Users thus are forced to coordinate, communicate and work together. At least during the initial phase. Which is going to set the trend for people working on OSM in most cases. I expect that 80% of the users never need to pass level 2 and still not feel restricted. I like that balance, they can improve the map but they don’t have the power to do much damage. And with some better social tools this becomes easy to manage.

I would think that this while design important to avoid random vandalism, but especially for companies this would be useful to avoid little bubbles of teams that work together internally but not with the rest of the world.
I think it helps people become aware that they are not mapping alone. Comments on changesets need to be responded to. OSM is not just editing, its got a social ingredient too.

That footnote:

Why is it always a weakness that a new account can do anything and everything?

Because it creates an imbalance in what kind of mapping society you create. Specifically it rewards loners that have no problem taking risk (i’ll just edit this, lets see what happens). But those people are the minority and it punishes everyone else that would love to get someone to handhold a little.

More importantly, by skipping any sort of introduction or communication or anything, we skip building of (local) communities. The majority of accounts never have any communication with any other mapper. Isn’t that strange? People are social animals, just plainly ignoring this part is damaging. Ask an actual social person if you have no clue why that would be :rofl:

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