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OSM is like a bunch of volunteers refurbing a city park, all working different schedules, with no manager. Alice starts sanding off rust on one end of a swingset. Then Bob shows up and starting painting the other end that hasn't yet been sanded; consternation ensues.

There are a lot of attempts to solve this problem with documentation on exactly how things should be done. The wiki, the stackoverflow-style help site, subreddit, tips in the editor software, mailing lists, slack... There are too many and they often don't agree. The information in some places changes quite rapidly, or in other places goes stale over time.

So we're bound to end up with incompatible approaches now and then. I've found it's often (certainly not always!) useful to politely communicate with other mappers. This works both ways -- I've stepped on toes, and I've had toes stepped on.

When you're staring at something ugly in OSM, the last person to work on it might have finished 5 minutes ago, or 5 years. But the tools to find out do exist. As the map gets more and more filled in, I expect that documentation aimed at new mappers will need to focus on communication and cooperation as much as direct editing of the map data.




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