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Mayor of Main Street – How Badges Will Make OpenStreetMap Data Better
Martijn van Exel
OpenStreetMap is a prime example of a collective geographic knowledge platform. Its openness is its defining feature: anyone can create, modify and destroy any feature in OSM. All contributors are created equal, and remain so into all eternity. The consequences of this â€“ from newbies creating freeways in the ocean to entire cities being deleted by vandals, politically motivated or otherwise â€“ are being dealt with on an ad-hoc basis. OpenStreetMap entirely relies on the attentiveness and resilience of the community to resolve undesired contribution behavior. Now that the project is gaining hundreds of new contributors each day and it has risen to a certain prominence as a geodata resource, this situation may not be tenable for much longer.
Other social knowledge platforms have successfully introduced concepts from game theory into their communities to help steer and regulate contributor behavior, as well as generate and sustain contributor motivation. A popular implementation of these concepts is a reward system, where contributors are given â€˜badgesâ€™ for certain achievements that comprise desired behavior.
Badge systems are far from trivial to implement well, because they require a deep understanding of the underlying community dynamics and values. Also, a badge system system should be effective for a wide range of contributors, from newbie to very experienced. A carefully balanced mix of metrics defining the thresholds required to earn the available badges in the system is needed to achieve this. Collaborative knowledge systems such as StackOverflow have collected valuable experience in this domain.
In my talk, I am going to explore the application of a badge system to OpenStreetMap. I will address the lessons to be drawn from other communities, the technical challenges specific to OpenStreetMap, specific challenges and opportunities presented by the geographic context of OpenStreetMap, and the possible implications for OpenStreetMap data quality.
Martijn van Exel is a long-standing member of the OpenStreetMap community and a geospatial professional with 15 years' experience in software development and research in GIScience. He is currently exploring trustworthiness of crowdsourced geodata, defining new metrics relying solely on contributor and community dynamics.