OpenGeofiction

Verisimilitude on a global level: on the ever-growing number of small States

Posted by deltanz on 12 October 2017 in English (English)

As some of you may already know, one of my main interests in OGF has to do with the interaction between nations, international relations, collaboration as a whole. So, considering the rule of verisimilitude much discussed around our numerous forum posts, I'd like to propose a new question: is the international politics of OGF realistic?

Maybe most users are not concerned about that issue, but I am. So, I'd like to propose a few topics for discussion on issues that have always annoyed me on the global level lack of realism:

  1. Number of Nation-States

So far, half of OGF is open for mapping. On a quick look, I could count around 400 nation-states (areas separated by administrative borders level 2). Sure, most of those nation-states don't have an owner and even a lot of those that do, lack a present, participating owner. Nevertheless, my first question would be: Is that number realistic? A world that expects to copy the current configuration of our real life Earth would ever have 800 nation-states? My short answer would be "no". I understand some regions of Earth are overly divided into countries, like the Caribbean and Central Europe, but those are exceptions. Of course I also understand the need for OGF to have always open green states for potential users, but to which extent that would still be possible? Wouldn't that lead to a world with a thousand micro-countries? That leads to the second observation:

  1. Size and power structure

Every time we think about a competition like the Geolympiad, we see something like this: "Your country cannot host such a large event, it is too small". Well, from my perspective today, every active country in OGF is too small, with the exception of Pretany and maybe some other. Small countries like those wouldn't have resources to develop and expand their influence abroad. Three or four countries, again, exceptions, had large colonies in the past of OGF, but most of the other didn't. Today, in the real world, big players are physically large countries and countries that have had a large colonial territory, the USA, China, India, Russia, the UK, France, Japan, Australia, Canada, etc. I understand big countries are difficult to edit and some users may abandon them, but we could have experienced users mapping those. My country, Neo Delta, which is quite active and I see it as an important player in international affairs, is half the size of Portugal. Sure, small countries can be big players internationally, but those are rare exceptions. I have asked the admin team to make my country bigger, so that it could act as a regional power in Astrasia/Archanta, but never got a response.

For now those are the two aspects I'd like to focus. I'd like very much for the world we are building to follow similar verisimilitude rules we are expected when building countries, but that doesn't seem to be the case to me. My first suggestion would be to allow experienced owners to have larger countries and make more larger colaborative countries that, contrary to Commonia, ARE NOT open to free editing of new users. Other large countries could be open to new users, some could be responsible for different regions inside the same nation. Those countries would work as regional and global powers and make the world of OGF more realistic, in my point of view.

Thank you for your attention!

Comment from Friedrich Kirchen on 12 October 2017 at 17:46

Its good to be realistic. That's why i see impossible to properly map a big territory. Personally, that i own a small state, I preffer to map with detail all my country and then, ask for a territory around me, in order to make it bigger, and as you said, more realistic. As an European, I dont see any kind of problem with small states, for me, and my OGF area (so influenced by europe) it makes it more realistic.

About the size, Belgium hosted the Olympic games too.

Its true this world could be more realistic, but its quite impossible when it requires that time. This is a hobby for me, not a work. Sometimes I'm so active, and other times I'm off. Maybe a region divisions in the green countries can make people "colaborate" in the same country. Don't know... hahahhaa

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Comment from eklas on 12 October 2017 at 17:59

I totally agree.

Other large countries could be open to new users, some could be responsible for different regions inside the same nation.

I think this in particular is a great idea. We could have much larger countries divided into federate regions, each owned and controlled by one user, and a collaborative capital city. The only thing we lack at the moment, from my point of view, is enough skilled users who would be willing to do it.

Also there's been a lot of countries recently that are on the brink of being a joke. If you want to have a capitalist utopia country with a HDI of 1.00, a jagged coastline and a capital city of 2,000,000 tagged as a single node in a tangled web of highways, I think OGF is not the place for that.

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Comment from trabantemnaksiezyc on 12 October 2017 at 18:01

I think that there is nothing unrealistic about having a lot of small nations instead of a few big ones. In my opinion the model with small countries is just better fit to OGF*. Not only it makes detailed countries easier and quicker to make, but also it encourages collaboration between smaller nations. Also, did someone notice that there are no more nations free on the Ulethan west coast? Anyone who comes in and wants to make an EU-styled colonial power is kind of limited. Are there any ideas about what to do with it?

*I wanted to say that it also fits to Europe but that's mostly because I want my region independent...

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Comment from bhj867 on 12 October 2017 at 18:03

Even by earth standards Pretany is only a little larger than france.

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Comment from oscar2002 on 12 October 2017 at 18:04

No podría estar más de acuerdo. La geopolítica de OGF no tiene nigún tipo de lógica. A excepción del Noroeste de Uletha, la inmensa parte de los países de OGF no tienen sentido en el lugar en que están, y hay casos en los que la colonización se queda pequeña para explicar de forma lógica la hubicación de un país. Sin ir mas lejos hace quince días que le envié un mensaje al equipo administrativo para pedirle ayuda, porque con mi vecino no podía colaborar y llevar acabo la construcción de una historia coherente para mi país. En fin.

A parte de la carencia absoluta de orden en la distribución de culturas y, sobretodo, idiomas, uno de los grandes problemas de OGF que nunca he visto debatir es la inexistencia de la cultura oriental en OGF. Si queremos hacer un paralelismo de la realidad no podemos olvidar a algunos grandes actores del mundo real como China, India, Vietnam, Corea, Japón... Y de ellos solo se ven algunos ejemplos en Tarephia.

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Comment from Friedrich Kirchen on 12 October 2017 at 18:07

Oscar, si quieres que todo el mundo te entienda, te recomiendo que participes en inglés. Tu comentario es interesante, y todxs deberíamos ser capaces de entenderlo.

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Comment from trabantemnaksiezyc on 12 October 2017 at 18:13

@oscar2002: (I translated your post in Google Translate, so if I got someting wrong then sorry). I also find the mess with cultures distribution annoying. I mentioned a few months ago that if we wanted to write a common history for Syrillangan a.k.a. Slevic people then we'd get some inpropable mess, just because of the geography. Is there any answer to that? Yes, restarting completely with clear rules about where are which countries located. Is there any reasonable way to change things? No, there isn't, so we're stuck with current geopolitics.

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Comment from Aces California on 12 October 2017 at 18:18

I'm in same boat with Friedrich too, to have a realistic country is to do the details, though not specifically referring to working in a very small scale. You still need to have enough present to have a smooth, continuous detail of your country throughout, and I feel like a big territory will be too large to be continuous and harmonious in detail.

On topic of size, whilst most of the larger powers existing are large, some of the up-and-coming powers like the UAE or Azerbaijan are comparatively small. It's less about land owned I find, and more about it's financial and political will as you see your country having.

That is what I feel is the issue with Verisimilitude currently, we have too many rich and wealthy nations with everything on their plate. It's the main reason I'm mapping Tierajas-Verdes as a developing nation inspired by Bangladesh, because I don't want to make another wealthy, highly planned, utopia. But then, at the end of the day most people just want to map and not think about the economy and politics of their nation, it's just something I am interested in. So you are going to get a lot of nations who are wealthy enough to host the Geolympics or having deep and international foreign relations.

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Comment from Friedrich Kirchen on 12 October 2017 at 18:25

The thing is that we can't compare OGF with OSM, where a lot of people map the same country, based in aereal images. Make a big country with great detail has to be a collaborative between good mappers. Don't know if someone is interested in this, but i think there were some bad experiences in the past

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Comment from oscar2002 on 12 October 2017 at 18:33

@Friendrich Kirchen @trabantemnaksiezyc I wrote that in English because is more easy for me in that way. But since now I will try to write more in english. @trabantemnaksiezyc I'm agree with you, it's too difficult to restart now and make a common story for all OGF countries, but I think is possible to make the problem less important. The enormous handicap is that a plan for it requires a lot of time, effort and especially, coordination.

There are a lot of Green Countries that could be moddified for that purpose. Also there are a lot of space in Uletha for refuge countries in Antharia or Tarephia whith "European origins" that in their original countries are out of place. Also, for new users we could create a series of voluntary recomendations for create their countries in a good place.

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Comment from Aces California on 12 October 2017 at 18:58

I would love to work more in collaborations, but as you said, there's been bad experiences with it in the past, and too much work to start one up again.

An idea I'm just throwing out there, why not instead of having collaborations in which people have to sign up, then work to a solid plan, have collaborations that are more "pools" of verified mappers. Instead of having a plan set in place, give some more freedom with maybe a more "committee" or something of the verified mappers. Just like, any verified mapper can come with an idea for a city or region or country, and others can advise and suggest improvements to it, so the country/city has that smooth continuous detail, and also thought about how/why it was mapped that way.

I hope that made sense?

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Comment from Rustem Pasha on 12 October 2017 at 19:33

I think there is no solution for small countries problem. Great majority of us came here with coherent visions of their countries. We don't want create dependent provinces but sovereign states but there is big problem, problem with time exactly. My country is the size of Lithuania (still less than Portugal) but I realised if I will keep my mapping tempo, it would take me about two years to fill the country on satisfactory level of details. In high details it would be about thousand years, clearly impossible. The same impossibility I would get if I would please for a country that fulfils my vision, it would be the size of 2-3 millions squere kilometers.

I think it pictures the problem with big countries. There not so many people who want to collaborate and single persons can't map big countries in a good way (anyway I'm interested in AR120 project and maybe I would contribute a bit in it).

The next question is that OGF is predicted to have reasonably more cultures because on conlangs and awakening of some IRL dead cultures. This also requires bigger number of countries.

Finally about incoherency and problems with european countries on other continents than Uletha preserving it is impossible. Most of us live in a few developed countries and we try to map places we know. So there is a lot of Germanys, Britains, Spains and Americas (both North and Latin) but there is no... for example India (which is rather unique, because despite Internet is not very popular in India, there are probably more than 100 millions people connected). It is impossible to fit all these (not much diverse) countries in a single continent so they are placed all around the world.

What could be done in early stage of OGF devolopment that Uletha should be divided on regions for different languages with a few countries for the same language but i am sure that administrators didn't think it will be a problem. Today it is impossible to solve this problem without moving countries all across the globe. We must live with the incoherency.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 12 October 2017 at 21:46

I agree with pretty much everything that's been said above. These things are not resolvable in OGF: the focus of mapping needs to be small because otherwise practically no-one will have time to do it. It works fine as countries, because that way people have some ownership, but of course it isn't like the real world. "States" might be a possibility - if people have a similar shared concept, but we know, that hasn't worked so far. There is certainly amazing stuff here but also a lot of experiments, places where people try different things out. And of course everyone needs a place to start, to practice and learn.

We talked somewhere a long time ago about possible solutions to the different qualities of mapping. With the permission of its creators, the data that is in OGF could be recombined in different configurations (after all, it is just numbers). That way you could end up with some larger countries that are actually coherent. Isleño has been doing this for a long time, moving abandoned things to Commonia and other blue countries. But on a bigger scale it might be possible to design a world around these compound areas (or countries), rather than trying to fit countries into a pre-designed world which itself is not logical or "realistic". As Aces says, with a will, I suppose you could do some of this in OGF already ... but I'm not sure it would result in much long term improvement. Maybe one or two bigger/better countries, but they would probably end up mixed in with semi-abandoned small ones.

There's a slightly different problem with there being too many rich countries, but its perhaps not as big a problem as it seems. There is a logical explanation after all: the poor countries don't have access to the time to spend mapping this, or even the real OSM, so those places are not mapped to the same detail. Conceivably, you should be putting more detail into a country the better off it is and the more citizens it has with access to mapping software. Perhaps the "new continents" just don't have internet... Anyway, at the moment the more constructive thing is to focus on creating good bits of mapping, even if they are small and disjointed.

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Comment from Toadwart on 12 October 2017 at 23:02

I am actually trying to do "bits of disjointed mapping". And it I must say, it's bloody unsatisfactory.

And I don't know a solution. I would like to think about it, but I don't know if my input would be valued.

For instance, all the gray territories. They are reserved for future use, but I is at least not widely known for what precise reason. Mostly the western continents. Are they held back to make a plan to make something better? Not to repeat mistakes from the eastern continents? Are they going to be themed? Will they have regional restrictions for language, culture, colonial history, etc?

If they are colonial, and Ingerland the biggest colonial power, then Ingerland must first somehow become a "common" territory, or there must be a new great colonial power. Anyway looking at the prepared borders, they don't look like they could be colonial anyway.

Will they be restricted to experienced mappers? Will certain regions be reserved for experienced mappers? Then it would be concentrated along a narrow stretch of latitude. So some of the good mappers might want to miss out, because they don't want their country moved there, because it's too far or too close to the equator.

What about AR120? Just imagine, it would become a US-like federal state. Further imagining I got a slice of it. It would be much larger than my current territory, and that is already big enough. Would everyone (or anyone "accepted") allowed to edit anywhere?

Is it even worth thinking about it? We don't know, what the options are. If anyone could come out with an idea, and then we could use the forum to discuss the options, that would be nice.

Do admins have plans already? Then they could present them in the forum. If they don't, they could use the forum to ask for suggestions.

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Comment from Luciano on 12 October 2017 at 23:34

I think this is a valuable discussion, but I also know that some of this has been discussed before, and its frustrating to see things go "round and round" and always the same questions and same complaints and concerns. Always in my mind: "hey, didn't we talk about this last year? and the year before?"

Part of this is a lack of a good, coherent discussion medium (these User Diaries) are inadequate, and people seem find Blikis unintuitive and difficult.

I am a "sometimes" member of the admin team. I have been active lately, because of free time, but that isn't a guarantee, and my free time is currently decreasing. The other members of the team are in a similar situation. We're just volunteers, and very much part-time, on a "time available" basis.

That's the biggest problem. Yes there plans for "Gray Territories" - and hopes for a more structured, coherent approach than with existing territories. When will we get to them? Who knows? That's a lot of work. I have taken some first steps with the AR120 project (a US-style federal territories with a new collaboration model - you heard it first here), but even that moves slower than expected in every way, as neighbors prove uncooperative or uncommunicative.

It always comes down to a lack of interest in collaboration, frankly. Most mappers are solitary souls and find collaboration a burden. Perhaps I myself have this problem, too.

NOTE: as always, my comments are as a user, and do not represent the views of the admin team in general.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 12 October 2017 at 23:56

@Luciano

I am a "sometimes" member of the admin team. I have been active lately, because of free time, but that isn't a guarantee, and my free time is currently decreasing. The other members of the team are in a similar situation. We're just volunteers, and very much part-time, on a "time available" basis. That's the biggest problem.

If that's the biggest problem, why not find more admin team members?

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Comment from Luciano on 13 October 2017 at 00:02

@Udi

If that's the biggest problem, why not find more admin team members?

Heh. We have a project to expand the admin team. But... well, that project takes time, too.

Part of the problem is that the admin team doesn't have any kind of collaboration tool or workspace either. We just trade messages, which can be a bit "hit or miss" with respect to other members' noticing them and acting on them. That's not really going to "scale" well if we expand the team substantially. So some kind of "collaboration platform" needs to exist. And that takes time to build.

Still, we owe a better explanation. We could do better. I agree.

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Comment from Reece202 on 13 October 2017 at 00:21

I think the lack of collaboration platform is one of the leading causes of the 'collaboration desert'. Considering that none of our current methods are hitting the mark (i.e. private messaging is clunky, wiki talks and user diaries aren't ideal due to format and how easily information can get lost [more so with user diaries, but the wiki page of the Great War shows how much of a mess trying large scale collab on the wiki can be]) I'm not entirely surprised that everyone appears to be keeping to themselves.

However I don't think that the majority of active users intend on being so solitary, its just that it becomes easier to maintain one's own workflow without having to run through the communication hoops. As for myself, I would love to do more collaborative work, its just with the limited time I have to map, its easier to work on my own projects at my own pace instead of waiting on messages. I assume many are in the same situation.

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Comment from Portopolis on 13 October 2017 at 00:44

Reece202, Agreed. I am open to collaboration but my mapping while better than most of the newer guys is sub-par compared to the likes of Udi, Luciano and a host of other great mappers that I can't name that alone makes me hold back in asking cause, who would want work that in most/many aspects is sub-par to their own in their territory? I think this collaboration talk will be more important in 3 years to have than now, when the current continents get so crowded that likely the Eastern continents will be forced to collaborate since a majority of the city/highway mapping is done and much of the work left is realism and smaller cities/ rural areas towns and projects in general. Their are already zones of Uletha and other areas clearly developing into their own regions.

One thing I have with superpowers is the fact that many people want superpower nations, and truly when you get to superpowers they shouldn't be controlled by one person. IMO I think nations like Gobrassanya and Khaiwoon should be superpowers or EU-like organizations across a region or else we end up with every nation having 30 of the top 100 largest companies. I currently have downgraded Hoppon form a developed nation to more of a China or Turkey with developed areas and large areas clearly still developing as being undeveloped in a world of developed nations means you have the fastest growing economy, have tons of foreign investment and so many benefits that being undeveloped is probably better economically for my country than being developed would be.

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Comment from wangi on 13 October 2017 at 00:44

I've not read all of the intervening messages, so sorry if this has been said already.

Lots of wee countries actually lends itself quite nicely to neighbours coming together later to amalgamate into a larger country,

Grey countries, and others, might well make sense to "plat out" to users on regional, rather than country, level subdivisions.

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Comment from wangi on 13 October 2017 at 00:47

(saying that as somebody who has a 50 or kmsq sliver of territory, but only ever edits in the blues)

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 06:36

At someone who had a large nation, Pretany, I will say this. Mapping a country of this size takes so much time it is daunting and Neverending. I don't recommend it to anyone, but I think the biggest problem on this website other than lack of communication among mods is the root cause of the lack of collaborations, we just don't have enough useful active members to warrant a collaborative platform. We should realistically, and this is from my own calculations, have 4 or, 5 mappers to each small country. And for maybe countries like Pretany, we should have, 5-10 mappers working in complete and utter unison with strict rules and mapping standards. Maybe countries shouldn't be "owned" by any one person anymore, but moderated (with rules set) by founding members and any new members can choose and pick which country they get to edit on until quotas are filled for each country. And the founding members are set to strict rules or a hierarchy of mods about how each country should be ran in terms of theme, verisimilitude, and standard of sub-moderating behavior or new membership can be assigned or voted in if triggered by a higher ranking mod. OR the higher ranking mods could play a hams off approach. I would not say no to that answer for Pretany. I would love some new mappers to get assigned in my area so I can take them under my wing as protégés or "understudies" so to speak.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 06:46

Apprentice is the word in looking for

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Comment from eklas on 13 October 2017 at 06:56

Maybe countries shouldn't be "owned" by any one person anymore, but moderated (with rules set) by founding members and any new members can choose and pick which country they get to edit on until quotas are filled for each country.

This is an interesting idea, and we could introduce this as an experiment, but I personally don't want anyone to come and map in Drabantia. I have my own clear vision that I do not want to change.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 06:56

Basically new countries become of limits until new members have worked in collaborative territories first. Order of business (hypothetical)

  1. Current mods, find a communication method and stick to it.
  2. Build collaboration platform, such as a working forum. 3.set new rules. 4.weed out disruptive or inactive users. (consolidate) yes that means forcing bad mappers to go back to apprentice mode. 5.close out abandoned or inactive countries. (consolidate) 6.direct new mappers to other people's countries. 7.a start mapping until country is filled. 7.b mods be actively advertising for new mappers. 7.c as a new mapper gets expertise promote that mapper to new moderation of new country. Add determined by both country moderators and head Moderaters in a thumbs up or down three person vote.

Rinse repeat

Its so heirchy or system that needs to be set up to make this site successful.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 07:03

@eklas. That's the beauty of this system. If they don't follow the rules you set, they are assigned somewhere else or given smaller duties by your guidance. Apprenticeship is what it is. Then if moved to three different countries. They are out. A three strike rule set up by the head mods.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 07:05

Basically it gives all current owners a chance to be mini mods of their own countries.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 07:10

Another way of putting it. There is an upward shift promotion system and a downward shift promotion system set by the three person "thumbs up or down" rule by 2 head mods and the one sub moderator.

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Comment from martinum4 on 13 October 2017 at 07:37

My recap of previous entrys sums up to the following, correct me if i'm wrong:

We need a more intuitive platform to share ideas and more collaboration tools

  1. I could set up a forum on my server, maybe even with oAuth so there are no further credentials needed.
  2. I will set up an uMap server for easier sketching, it can be used in conjuction with overpass queries to "render" stuff that is not visible on the default map (e.g. proposed features), see here for more info.
  3. For comments on the bare map we could use the feature that was integrated into OSM for error correction -> http://opengeofiction.net/note/new
  4. Is a Mailing-list a possible solution?

(New) contributors need more guidance

  1. I think some pool of volutary experts on a specific topic would help here, maybe in conjuction with a forum
  2. Maybe embedding an FAQ-Link in the new diary entry page e.g. "If you have questions in regards of mapping, look [here](opengeofiction.net/faq)

The admin team needs more people and a better way of communication

  1. I would happily help out wherever i can
  2. As mentioned before, would setting up a forum help here?

Filling a large country is difficult

  1. I can totally agree to that
  2. As bhj867 mentioned having teams working together on countries would help here, also the "expert-pool" proposed before could help the teams

On other things

Regarding the cultural and linguistic "mess" that OGF can be sometimes: We could make an overlay map regarding Linguistic areas and tag all stuff in it with name:en=*, that way someone willing to translate in the countries language could easily run an overpass Query and translate the features found. In the light of recent events i wouldn't want some third party service for communication (disqus, discord and so on), only self-hosting is an option for me. Speaking of that i could offer an mumble-server for voicechats.

Kind regards

Martin

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Comment from ParAvion on 13 October 2017 at 07:51

I can see bhj867's reasoning behind having "teams" working on nations, but I don't like the idea of removing ownership of countries from users. Many of us have invested significant time into our nations and/or we have a plan in our heads, and opening it up to other people, apprentice or otherwise, would impede on that. A new user might look at a country like Myrcia, Drabantia, or Vodeo and think "that looks cool, I want to map there too", only to royally bugg... stuff it up. I would imagine a US-style grid city plopped down in a European country at the wrong scale, for example, wouldn't go down well.

Case in point: I'm mapping Vodeo as a mix of Australia and New Zealand set on the equator, and I already have a lot of the country sketched out in my head pending the time to put it into the site. Vodeo's not a big country and yet it will still take a long time to fully map, but that's fine by me - part of the fun is slowly filling in the gaps, like finally linking cities after months of separation. I'm not at all keen on having other users mapping something where I want to put something else. I know I could specify that, say, I want the other user/s to fill in Cambria while I focus on St Austell, but I'd rather do that myself.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not completely against the idea of these new-style collaboratives, but saying "maybe countries shouldn't be 'owned' by any one person anymore" isn't the right way to go about it. That's forcing users that are quite happy to map on their own into taking on someone that might have no idea what they're doing or how to fit in to the owner's plans. Make it an opt-in system by all means, but definitely not mandatory.

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Comment from martinum4 on 13 October 2017 at 08:00

Oh, i totally forgot to mention my idea for neighborhoodial, borderbased collaboration:

How about every neighbor can edit in another users country 5km from the borders to connect roads, railways, ferries and other line-based features. In conjuction with that i would want to allow proposing such features up to 20 km land-inward. Obviously the "land-owner" still has full rights in the corresponding country and is free to delete such features, but all in all this would lead to more organic, ad-hoc collaboration.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 08:02

martin umbrella, I like your ideas. A forum is definetely needed and the more integrated into oauth the better.

ParAvion I agree now that you have worded it that way that it should be opt-in (but heavily promoted for participation) for current owners, and any new owners it should be a mandatory system. I believe there would be a growing pain transitional period, but it would eventually work.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 08:07

This is just a general statement I think everyone should hear, not targeted at anyone in particular.

Change is difficult and frustrating and hard, but the current state of things is not sustainable long term for a quality, organized, cohesive map. Maybe a combination of expert pools and opt-in collaborations to a slow transition of permanent for new members is the key.

I suppose the big question on everyone's mind is, what is the main goal of this map? And do we all agree on that goal?

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Comment from Cauldron on 13 October 2017 at 08:07

I think a dedicated forum would really help enable cooperation between users. I know if I wanted to even coordinate something between the six or so mappers on the islands around my territory, it's a huge pain to do that only through message systems or a wiki talk page, especially if the collaboration is ongoing.

That would also really help in solving the lack of bigger countries. I'm a fan of the idea that we make a few very big countries that users each take a single portion/state/region of and map that. Realistically it's going to take months or years to put together enough users for a single country of that size to be mapped, but that's just the nature of the site. I think if we had a dedicated forum, it would be much easier to get new users involved in a big collaborative country: they would do the trial mapping in a blue territory, and then they would be given the choice to take their own territory, or join a collab country, and if they wanted to collaborate they could go directly to that country's thread/subforum/whatever and get introduced to the other mappers very easily.

I think another way to make some bigger countries would just be to encourage neighbours to unite into federated countries or multi-state unions. That wouldn't necessarily mean rewriting your country's entire history - it might just be analogous to your country joining the EU, or your territory forming a larger country in the 20th century, as was the case in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Another idea I had to solve some versimilitude issues would be to, when the new continents get opened up, maybe cordon off one of them and give it some stricter rules for users mapping in it to force the cultures and mapping there to be a bit more cohesive. Even if it's as simple a guideline as "all countries on this continent must be based on central/south asia", I think it would be restrictive enough to enforce more cohesion without scaring users away.

Ultimately I lean more toward the admins who have argued that too many restrictions will just scare off new users, though. This is meant to be a hobby, and there's not exactly an enormous flood of new users to pick and choose from. I think any changes made to the site that attempt to change the way users map should be opt-in (like the AR120 plan) rather than making everyone spend weeks mapping along someone else's guidelines for their country before they get one of their own.

Final note re: lack of poor countries, it's worth noting that the current global state of developed/developing/underdeveloped countries is a direct product of colonialism. Like, I think the OGF world would realistically have more poorer countries than it has now, but I don't think it necessarily needs to be like 50, 60 % poor countries to be 'realistic'. It's simply a world with a different history than our own, and a result of that might have been that there was less colonialism and a more even global pattern of development.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 08:08

martinum4

I believe most people do that organically anyway or at least should.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 08:19

Lack of new (steadily interested) members is a real question that needs to be solved after we get a forum or collaborative platform. Advertising to new mappers as a FUN place to express your creativite hobby, and setting boundaries on what is or isn't acceptable mapping, AND fostering new mappers to improve is the real challenge and like walking a tightrope.

I think the hardest part will just be inviting in new and steadily interested members. A lot of people seem to get on here and walk away from it once bored or busy or whatever. There had to be more people with this hobby than just us.

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Comment from Aces California on 13 October 2017 at 08:45

Having a read through of everything, I can agree with almost everything being suggested and said. I like the idea of teams working on nations, but I don't think it should be nations already existing. As somebody mentioned, we could consolidate all the abandoned and empty countries for this new collaborative idea, with a 3 strike system of a "mentorship" of inexperienced members, but they shouldn't be kicked off projects after one strike, seems disruptive to their learning. Make it like 3 strikes with moving to increasingly minor projects for them to do, and then after the 3rd strike we can decide what to do with them.

As for new forms of communication in collaborative projects, I do think something better needs to be in place over User Diaries and the Wiki, but I don't think that a Forum can be what we need either. The issue I have with forums is that it may be easier to follow strands of conversation, but it could be that messages could take days to get answers too. I think what we need is more an instant messaging service LIKE Discord or the such. I would still suggest Discord take it that whoever makes it Administrates it well (I wouldn't mind hosting a Discord for a collaborative nation honestly), but if we don't want Discord, there's other sort of instant message chats as well...is it called IRC?

But yeah, all in all, I think there needs to be a hierarchy of skills on this sight from the new, inexperienced, and experienced. In fact, this brings an idea of attaining realism in mapping AND inexperienced mapping, why not have inexperienced members map more 3rd world and developing countries where the mapping would be amateur and minimal in general. Not to say the style of the mapping has to be African or whatever, they could still do a US or European style country, but it gives realistic reasoning that the mapping in that area does not fit.

But I'm just rambling now :P

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Comment from Friedrich Kirchen on 13 October 2017 at 09:23

An international union between countries can be the best way of organize this. As an example: The Vinnic Economic Community works as the European Economic Community. If we had a vinnic version of the EU, we can coordinate this countries politicly.

Be realistic, forums have never worked. There are plenty more social media where we all are, to connect everyday, as FB. If the owners of all the VEC make a private group on FB (Cernou, Ionadalba, Kalm, Nordurland, Tircramby, Vinnmark, Welstand-Westrijk and Wesmandy) we can coordinate the evolution of our own countries and our neighbors ones. We mantain the ownership of our countries, but we can be parlamentary in FB groups, and vote for the decisions in the area, regarding abandoned countries, selfish users, history, and in the case we all are up for the new users politics, guide the new user, and give them an area in the community to start mapping and learn from us. Thats the way we can colaborate between each other, mantaining the ownership of our countries, helping grow the area, and control the mapping of new users. I'm open to work in this way if the rest of the area are up for this method. Its just about creating the countries community and see who join in order to start working. This can be made in the rest of areas of OGF as well, and have a real UN style organization in which all this united areas can discuss the global affairs.

What you think?

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Comment from trabantemnaksiezyc on 13 October 2017 at 09:51

@Aces, I'm going to protest. OGF doesn't need instant messaging. OGF needs a reliable platform where you can easily go back to older posts and the discussion is well organised. A chat would be a great addon to it, but for the sake of collaboration a forum would be a lot better - mapping takes time, and forum discussions may last long and not disappear in the blink of an eye.

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Comment from Aces California on 13 October 2017 at 09:57

We've tried to have these unions before to help with organizing between nations. I would SO love the Union of the Liberian Peninsula to be like the Vinnic Economic Community and the Eastern Ulethan Organisation of Independent Allies, because you all seem to have that collaboration down. Maybe if there was more will for organizing in unions it would be nice.

I do agree with you that forums don't particularly work better than User Diaries...User Diaries ARE Forums basically, but I don't think Facebook could be particularly the answer either, but then I don't use Facebook apart from keeping up appearances :P I think the option we'd need is to have maybe two new communication formats, or reformatting the current options, to have one that is an instant messaging service for communication between members on the go about a project, and one that is more a forums/community area for show-casing and charting major collaborative projects.

I'm going to throw a link out that I feel could be a good resource for ideas for how we should do collaboration. https://www.reddit.com/r/MHOC/ - I've recently got into doing this, and the way it's been styled like a proper government with different subreddits for different parties that are private until you become a member of the party...could we not have a similar infrastructure? Maybe even a Reddit page? it could also solve the issue of a steady-continuous flow of new mappers.

We could have a main page on Reddit for OGF, and then Subs that link to it for the collaborative projects, private to only it's accepted mappers? Have new members of members who want in on a collaborative project be reviewed by the Subreddit's Admin/s and if they are not ready or experienced enough, have them stay in the main Reddit page.

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Comment from Aces California on 13 October 2017 at 09:58

Which actually...why don't we have a Reddit yet? It feels like Reddit would be a good place for us to inhabit in general?

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Comment from zhenkang on 13 October 2017 at 10:01

I am quite open to collaboration. I had also seen like many huge projects for a common history has also failed, like the World War or something like that. Nevertheless, such projects could have taken up a lot of time and the OGF world is not so developed to take on.

I quite like martinum's idea of creating a some sort of linguistic map, like show Chinese-like countries, Indian-like countries or whatever-like countries. However, the slight problem will be for those countries without a RW culture or language.

Like Udi said to me in a PM: I think ''the project'' is divided between those who, really, want to add their country to the map of the real world and those who want to have a world that makes sense in itself (of course, there are a few also who don't care at all what the rest of the world is like - if they imagine anything, they assume it is a version of a world that fits in with their mapping, if not the real world).

For a world to appear "realistic", given that it isn't the real world, it has to tie together. The main issue relates to development of the world over time. For realism to occur, real world rules, like physics and language history have to apply. Since they don't, through inclusion of tectonics or linguistic history for example, this world is not realistic. Because more detail is being added that doesn't tie together, it is becoming less realistic, as I explained.

I will not encourage users, however, to start their own version of projects, which may lead to complications and confusion on which is the right one? If there is already a discussion on a certain topic, maybe add another section on your view of the project instead of creating another wiki page on your own.

I am also anticipating about AR120. I thought of it to be a place where all Archantan Culture ties together and miggle, and also some crossover between Antarephia across and Archanta. I hope AR120 will be more successful than Commonia (which i see as the 'most failed project on big countries'). I also hope for more huge countries, or some 'bug' countries like here

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Comment from wangi on 13 October 2017 at 10:02

Fracturing discussion off-site to other channels isn't the answer (whatever the problem is).

You do know there's a forum in test? http://wiki.opengeofiction.net/wiki/index.php/Special:WikiForum

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Comment from oscar2002 on 13 October 2017 at 10:24

I think that a good way to make solid collaborations is to create announcements in the map like in Openstreetmap. Voluntary projects for develop certain areas like AR120, or even private announcements for develop countries with a "guide" marked by the owner of the country.

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Comment from Toadwart on 13 October 2017 at 10:34

Somehow, I feel more discouraged now than before.

I feel, nothing's going to happen. While all different topics mix in here, no one has opened a thread on the forum about all those different topics. May I open some or should I leave it as it is? It the forum open anyway?

I am basically waiting with my mapping until I get a space where I can map properly. I found a space in the Western Hemisphere, but I don't know if they are opened up before I completely lose insterest in this project. And if it may happen in time, there is a non-zero chance that my plan won't qualify for global inconsistencies or the continents are not open for non-collaborative countries. In that case, all work ready for the bin.

Some days, I am so frustrated about this and that and everything, that I actually think of properly deleting it, so I am never again tempted to waste my time on it.

Those are just thoughts about my personal issues. And if they are an isolated problem then it's completely justified that they can be ignored, as I am not the center of the universe. But if my problem is a sub-problem of the global problem, then something must happen, and may it only be communication for now, so we see where we are, at least.

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Comment from zhenkang on 13 October 2017 at 10:39

@ Toadwart I agree. I think that this discussion will be all talk and nothing ever comes about.

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Comment from Aces California on 13 October 2017 at 11:09

And thus is the problem @Toadwart and @Zhenkang. There's all talk but too many opinions and too many options to work on, that in the end nothing will be done as too much is being suggested. I feel like the forums will be a failure on history alone in this site, being hidden away inside of the Wiki itself isn't going to help people know it's there to use, or it at least would make it feel like it's only for professionals.

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Comment from oscar2002 on 13 October 2017 at 11:25

I'm agree with all of you. But maybe will be better to expose all the opinions and then take actions. We need the approval of the admin team, if the admin team think our ideas ar ok, we can carry out plans.

We only need coordination.

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Comment from trabantemnaksiezyc on 13 October 2017 at 11:54

@Aces: We've already have had a reddit for a few minutes - some new user has pointed to it in his user diary, and after 5 minutes he's deleted it and made the subreddit private. I agree that the forum is hidden away and there is no easy way to get to it and this is the main problem with it, but it's still in the testing stage.

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Comment from ilikemaps on 13 October 2017 at 12:23

If we want large countries developed quickly, a method could be making them blue sandbox countries for some time and then given to an experienced user to fix up, this could be done with Commonia

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Comment from Aces California on 13 October 2017 at 13:01

Personally ilikemaps, that's an idea I'd like to do myself when I tire of mapping Tierajas-Verdes, for example in May I worked on Kazuya Beach to improve it's mapping (later joined by Kazuya) and I think what I worked on came out quite well. On the downside of it ilikemaps, is that it'd be best to get consent to rework places in blue countries from the original mappers if they are still around and active. I don't like the idea of touching somebody else's work even in a blue country.

And for the issue with Reddit @Trabantem, it was that guy's decision to make it private, I think that if there is to be a Subreddit, it had to be at least 2 people with consensus on making changes, and it has to NOT be private, it has to be a public Subreddit. Maybe yeah we'd need to see first where the forums lead, it is still in testing phase, but then the best way to test that as well is to make it openly accessible and public so it can "break" and fixes can be definitively done, by a team of admins et. al.

I feel like the Admin team, as Luciano said, doesn't have the time to work on fixing this, unless they are already fixing this, because they have too much work to do already, if we want this to happen, it would be best to have a few of us dedicated members who wants something done about this, and taking actions ourselves. Of course we can be in contact with Admins still, but we'd need to be lead on it to take the weight of it off the already busy Admins.

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Comment from Rustem Pasha on 13 October 2017 at 13:52

Just for make it clear: there is no technical problem with add forum to the Wiki sidebar. It requires edit in one MediaWiki page and I hope it will be added when the testing phase will end.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 16:40

As long as whatever we do quality mapping becomes to primary focus. I truly believe that maping takes such a long time as it is due to the mechanics of how Josm works that any distraction or failure to streamline will continue to delay development on the map. I am now in the camp that the wiki itself had hampered people developing quality mapping skills.

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Comment from bhj867 on 13 October 2017 at 19:37

So should we just move everything to forum? There should be a link to the forum at the top of the main page.

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Comment from Toadwart on 13 October 2017 at 19:48

At least, we could split by topic there:

Some Suggestions:

  • Ideas for collaboration? How can you encourage users to work in a team? What would encourage you to join a team?

  • Ideas for projects? AR120? Existing countries? Ingerish Commonwealth?

  • What you would like to see in the Western Hemisphere? Themed? Colonial? Restricted to experienced Users? Moderated? What would you do better than in the Eastern Hemisphere?

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Comment from Asparagus on 14 October 2017 at 11:39

I feel like I'm commenting late, but here's my two bits.

When I first joined this site a few years ago after Canclaret mentioned it to me, the territory I got (this was before you needed any mapping experience to get your own territory) was a decent chunk of what is now UL099, where the inlet is (apparently the little village I made is still there). Obviously that was too big for me and I had no idea what I was going to do with it, so I got bored pretty quickly and abandoned it. Some time later, Canclaret (who had also abandoned his first territory) suggested we get back into it and we decided to collaborate together on a single, smaller territory, which would become Ismikk. We worked together on it for a little bit until I figured I had different ideas than he did, and since he'd already done the vast majority of the work on Ismikk, I took the territory south of his and left Ismikk solely to him. I had a somewhat clear idea for what I wanted to do with this new territory, but it turned out in the end to be too big and my ideas for it, such as its climate and culture, didn't really fit into the general area very well. Eventually, I decided to move "Inretsk" to where Wapashia is now, and it turned out to be a fantastic choice, as it has a size I can deal with and my ideas for it fit better sandwiched in between Rots and Neo Delta.

Basically, it took me four different territories before I figured out how I could make a vaguely realistic country. And that's not saying very much considering how little I've done even with the new territory I have. But considering that a lot of people get into OGF with a specific idea in mind as to what they want to do, I feel like verisimilitude isn't really on a lot of mappers' minds until they've either mapped too much and realized that their country and the country next to theirs don't really fit together, or have written too much on their country's wiki page only to realize the same thing with a neighbouring country's wiki page.

One suggestion I have for trying to create realism in a country that hasn't really been developed yet is to not make it super perfect and to come up with modern issues the country may have while building it. I'm lucky in that I had no intention of ever making a superpower country, and I intend for Wapashia to have a fair share of problems. I think this makes it more interesting. This doesn't necessarily mean I want it to be a "bad" or poor country, I just don't want it to be unrealistically perfect.

The thing is, I don't think we should worry about verisimilitude TOO much, because we don't want a world that is too similar to the one we already live in, otherwise that wouldn't be very interesting (and I think I can make a case for there being some things in the OGF world that are already too much like our world). Even "perfect" countries don't necessarily bother me, because there should be a few of them, and geographical things that look foreign to us when compared to the real world, such as Canclaret building a metropolis on what is basically the OGF equivalent of the Falkland Islands, don't really bother me either because I think we can make a reasonable case for their being there. What bothers me (and I'm sure we've all unanimously agreed upon this) is when someone has a territory the size of New Brunswick with a population rivalling the United States, an exceptional HDI, a stinking rich GDP per capita... and barely any edits on their country without any thought about their neighbours. This is coming from someone who hasn't really done a whole lot of edits himself (and I'm trying to fix that).

In short, I definitely think that we should set some guidelines (or at least suggestions) for where people choose territories depending on their ideas for geography, culture, history and politics, as well as their eventual neighbours, but I don't think we should restrict people TOO much in order to keep verisimilitude. I just think people should at least consider how realistic their country is and how it can fit in properly.

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Comment from Alessa on 14 October 2017 at 17:56

In general, I agree with most of the points offered above. I'd like to encourage everyone to remain optimistic, however. I know that things change very slowly, and the disjointedness of the community is largely the reason. Still, we have a lot of people doing good quality mapping. As we get more and more good users, I do believe the map will begin to fill in more, even if it is in chunks. I think that's the nature of the project and how it's been set up.

That said, I particularly like Udi's idea of different "states." But, for those of us that have distinct cultures, what about "regions?" For example, Mauretia would arguably be a much better cultural fit where the former Celesto Republic is. (It does somewhat work as an extension of the Italian-like sphere now.) My current location is a byproduct of available countries, desired climate, and ability to make it seem logical. When I joined, if I remember correctly, only the far-flung northern locales and a small country on the Liberian peninsula were even available in western Uletha. Nothing that put me in a similar cultural area was even available other than being near Italian-like countries. Under Udi's idea with a regional bent, I'd be absolutely open to coordinating with the admin team and key users to relocate my country. (Although, if I were granted the Celesto spot or even half of it, I'd overhaul that gulf!) I'd gladly work together with Castellan and Alora to do something more detailed and integrate the countries more. I wonder how many users would be willing to "up-and-move" to reorganize the map a bit. I'd have a few preferences, but I know I'd be open to it. Absolutely.

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Comment from Luciano on 15 October 2017 at 01:34

A note in response to the "regions" talk from Udi / Alessa...

It is the current intention that the Western Hemisphere continents be culturally "themed." We have some sketches of ideas and the idea would be to attach as sort of "covenant" (like buying a condo?) to new territories, e.g. "this country must be Anglosphere styled" or "this country must be Sinosphere styled" etc. More to come, hopefully. Part of the issue is how to make those ideas fit with the currently existing Eastern hemisphere. Do we just ignore the Eastern Hemisphere, as far as coherency, and "start over" in the West? Do we try to retroactively impose these kinds of "zones" on the various regions and continents (resulting in a lot of dissatisfied people wanting to move their countries)? Thilo has expressed frustration, already, with the loads large country moves place on the server (it's a data volumes problem, not a processing problem). This is a kind of load the OSM software doesn't handle well - because it never arises in the real world. So we might have to settle for countries being where they are more from the inertia related to limitations of the software. I say this because, of course, I have been the number one OGF offender in terms of moving countries around.

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Comment from ilikemaps on 15 October 2017 at 02:23

I think that we should just ignore the western hemisphere for the while because otherwise even with all the planning it will just mean we end up with two unfinished areas instead of one

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Comment from Alessa on 15 October 2017 at 03:12

@Luciano: That's a very good point about server overload. I had not even thought about that and can see it being a problem. I suppose the only way to do a major relocation initiative would be to essentially take the server offline for a 24-hour period and have Thilo relocate things. That's probably neither advisable nor what we should ask him to do, since he does this site out of sheer benevolence. So, I'd assume that the eastern hemisphere is quasi locked in as it stands. Perhaps it's unfortunate in some ways, but that is the system we have in place. I do like the ideas that the admin team is mulling for the west, but to echo the sentiment of @ilikemaps and others, it'll probably be a while before we're even there.

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Comment from Luciano on 15 October 2017 at 04:59

@Alessa - actually, it's worse than that. It's not the move itself that's the problem, it's the fact that the OSM data model stores the move permanently in its "history". So a moved country exists in two places in the database: its old location (hidden, and only in the history), and its new one. You've just doubled the size of the data with respect to your country. In an elaborately mapped place, that's substantial.

As a related example: I just deleted my capital, VC. Which had a LOT of detailed mapping. But the whole thing is still there: in the history. So as I rebuild the city, I'm not replacing the old data, I'm just adding more new data. So the long term outcome of this remapping project is: VC takes up twice as much space, now.

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Comment from zhenkang on 15 October 2017 at 05:24

@ Luciano So for those 'Lost' countries with deleted data, the old data is still there? Examples like Mazan, Chara etc.

I had briefly thought about moving my country to the Axian Penisula, to match the culture, but I eventually decided against it, as I have already 'established' good relations with my neighbour even though his country is not the same as mine.

I also think that moving countries also create some levels of confusion. If your neighbour happens to move somewhere else, then if you have a shared history with him, then... It creates further inconsistencies you see.

There are ways to link the East with the West. Like Orano and Erano may have characteristics with eastern Uletha, and further RW Asian characteristics. I thought of proposing that these two continents be non-RW western. I thought of ER001 to be a RW China and India together. (This is regarding the fact that the continents are in the east of Uletha)

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Comment from Alessa on 15 October 2017 at 13:31

@Luciano: I know this is getting a bit off topic, but is there anything we as users can do to help condense this space?

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Comment from Thunderbird on 15 October 2017 at 20:28

I think since it seems as though we have too many "first-world" countries in the eastern hemisphere, the western hemisphere (new continents) should have mostly third-world countries.

Also: Does OGF accept donations? If server space is a problem I would have no problem paying a few dollars on a per-month basis.

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Comment from martinum4 on 16 October 2017 at 09:23

I doubt that server space is much of a problem, so far we are at node 94.703.613 while OSM is at 5.170.868.239.

I personally like the OSM Data-structure as it allows you to render and search the (Attic Data).

What every user can do to save a bit of space is to "recycle" nodes when deleting stuff, that way there isn't a new node created but just another version appended to an already existing one.

Also the PBF-Data-Structure is optimized to use as little Hard Drive Space as possible, the whole OGF-World, including all attic-data is about 350MB, i think that expands to about 3 GB but i am not really sure because i never deal with raw data.

Kind regards

Martin

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Comment from Luciano on 17 October 2017 at 02:47

@martinum4 - actually, my own work with databases in the past makes me think that it shouldn't be such an issue. But Thilo has repeatedly expressed concerns about the issue of OGF Attic data - I think because it's Geofiction, and not reality, we probably as a whole community generate a great deal more attic data than the real world equivalent - unlike the real world, we are allowed to keep changing our minds about things (such the locations of countries!) while this simply cannot happen in OSM. Attic data in OSM is mostly generated through stepwise refinement of mapped features, or occasionally revisions to meet newly established standards.

So although our overall dataset is much smaller than OSM, it is entirely conceivable to me that our "Attic" is in fact larger, already. I'm just speculating, but that's how I would guess. Thilo has mentioned the possibility of "truncating" the history through some means - essentially "cleaning the Attic." One simplistic approach would be to simply "copy-paste" the current OGF world into a new instance, so-to-speak. This could work if space is becoming an issue, but we would lose the history information attached to individual objects.

@Thunderbird - there have been many offers to help pay for OGF. Thilo's generosity, in this respect, remains unwavering. In fact, I don't think money is an issue for him, as far as I can tell. The problem is time. I suppose the whole project could move in the direction of hiring actual employees, and then using donations to pay their salaries. That would be a giant step, but one I suspect Thilo is reluctant to take. It requires changing OGF from a hobby to a business (if still a not-for-profit business, but nevertheless, there's a lot of complications and hassles attached to it).

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