Exploring the Relationship Between “Informal Standards” and Contributor Practice in OpenStreetMap

Title: Exploring the Relationship Between “Informal Standards” and Contributor Practice in OpenStreetMap

Authors: Andrew Hall, University of Minnesota, Jacob Thebault-Spieker, Virginia Tech, Shilad Sen, Macalester College, Brent Hecht, Northwestern University, and Loren Terveen, University of Minnesota

Abstract: Peer production communities create valuable content such as software, encyclopedia articles, and map data. As part of the creation process, these communities define production standards for their content, e.g., semantic and syntactic requirements. We carried out a study in OpenStreetMap to investigate the role of that community’s standards for geographic metadata. We found that most applied metadata was consistent with the community’s standards; however, we also found that the standards identified many opportunities for applying metadata that were not achieved. In addition, when we situated the standards in the context of OpenStreetMap’s data model, we found a significant amount of ambiguity; the syntax allowed only one value, but everyday meaning — and the standards themselves — called for multiple values. Our results suggest significant opportunities for OpenStreetMap to produce additional valuable open source content to power applications.

Download: This contribution is part of the OpenSym 2018 proceedings and is available as a PDF file.

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