Feeling Blue about "Blue"

Posted by Luciano on 9 July 2016 in Korean (한국어)

I have posted a rant on my Bliki.

I'm not going to work on blue countries for a while.

Comment from compdude on 9 July 2016 at 06:21

That's really unfortunate. It's amazing how many people just think they can do whatever sort of unrealistic thing that they want and nobody will care.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 09:28

Me too - some comments on your bliki talk page.

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Comment from BelpheniaProject on 9 July 2016 at 14:19

Me also, it is pretty unfortunate. I didn't get the chance to read your rant, but I understand how you're feeling right now @Luciano.

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Comment from deltanz on 9 July 2016 at 18:16

Folks, it's time to give in, we can't have both. We have to choose:

  1. We have free editing countries that look terrible

  2. We don't have free editing countries

I think we shouldn't expect that new users already have all the information about geography that's needed to create reasonable things! We admit new members without asking them anything, and I think that's the purpose of the blue areas, to be a place for practice. We'll never have blue places that look nice while those places have the function they do now. I, for one, am ok with that!

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Comment from Yuanls on 9 July 2016 at 18:25

I haven't made too many edits on Commonia or even in general recently, but I would tend to be more radical. If it's abandoned, I would say delete/move/change it. If the editor is still active, I'd message him/her. If the editor doesn't reply and start negotiating by a certain deadline I'd go and make changes to the 'wrong' sections. After all, it's his ignorance at fault.

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Comment from bhj867 on 9 July 2016 at 18:59

See your talk page .. I just went on a rant too.. And I just looked at commonia, haven't seen it in a couple of days. Those megacities look way worse. Ugh, I give up

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Comment from okiazr on 9 July 2016 at 19:57

I agree with @deltanz

Blue area supposed to be for the new user, who often draw everything without thinking if is it realistic or not, igroning any rules of map making, for example how to draw realistic river, ect,... just like i did when i was a nubie here...

We cant expect much from these new user to draw a realistic map in a blue area. OGF already have purple area, for new user to draw with some set of rules to guide in drawing that area.

So let blue area an area for new user to try anything, whether is it realistic or not...

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 20:37

@ deltanz 'We have free editing countries that look terrible' or 'We don't have free editing countries'. There is possibly a third way: 'we have VERY SMALL free editing territories that look terrible'. Those could be towns, rural districts etc. Not whole countries. I think that was Isleño's point in Luciano's diary entry about blue countries a while back.

@ Yuanls - three months ago I probably wouldn't have agreed with you, but having tried to do some work on Commonia, I think that's the right approach.

@ bhj867 . Absolutely agree. Who sent you the message? I've had no response to messages I sent about the big cities (trying to work out whose work it was), except from Wal, today (city = Jumekha) who gave a reasonable response (but so far all the mega highways are still there..).

@ okiazr - agree that we can't expect much from new users - it takes time to learn. But I also think that, so far, the blue territories have had much more purpose than being just for new users. For example Gobrassanya.

I think, basically, that the issue is one of scale. New users will mess up the map. But they don't have to mess up whole countries, or in the case of Commonia half a continent. Now that the world is settling down a bit there needs to be more direction in progression from noob to mapper to owner. That should mean a progression in scale of mapping too, from small areas to larger ones.

One final issue with blue areas - who has the time to police all these areas (that probably includes 'abandoned countries')? When these big messes appear, do we leave them for ever? Or someday does someone have to go back and sort them out? The more messes appear, the bigger that job gets.

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Comment from bhj867 on 9 July 2016 at 21:07

Not trying to call anyone out but Tâmyña

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Comment from bhj867 on 9 July 2016 at 21:11

Said he had an "Egyptian theme going on". Idk.

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Comment from bhj867 on 9 July 2016 at 21:15

I remember I attempted to improve the one existing city, ombo, by scaling back on the freeways and the one mile wide shopping mall (lol) and editing the suburb,, but this user wasn't having it. I messaged him back to no avail or response.

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 9 July 2016 at 21:24

Tâmyña has not replied to my message asking about the scale of this city. But perhaps not seen the message yet, Tâmyña owns Чёнова Chionova just south of Commonia, which (as well as having some fairly large glaciers just south of the equator) has so much motorway it would be hard to squeeze in an 'Ombo'. So maybe that is why a huge 'Egyptian' city is appearing in the middle of a jungle.

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Comment from Luciano on 9 July 2016 at 23:05

Update: on the talk section of the bliki. Thanks for comments.

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Comment from dryerlint on 10 July 2016 at 02:45

If we want to "rationalize" the weird, ugly free-edit areas... then perhaps we could say that the Commonian government is messing with public maps, to make their country look rich/powerful? Commonia is supposed to be a dictatorship, right?

Obviously, this isn't true in real life. But it would be a funny way to lampshade the flaws in these areas.

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Comment from isleño on 10 July 2016 at 03:05

I'm sorry you've had this experience, Luciano. Next time we should try to arrange better coordination before we put a bunch of effort into blue countries.

I'm sure people are tired of hearing me say this by now, but I think a big part of the problem is Commonia's size. In addition to the benefit of encouraging new users toward quality, detail and coherence, I also think smaller blue countries are easier to plan, easier to coordinate, easier to monitor and easier to clean up. I think they also make "anti-social" behavior less likely. So... I'd definitely be on board for some major reform here. Hopefully we can find a good solution. :-)

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Comment from Luciano on 10 July 2016 at 03:25

@dryerlint - Heh. That is a genuinely clever suggestion. I rather like it. How about a section in the article about Commonia, "Map Controversy," describing the situation? "Small villages are being rendered on various online world maps as giant cities with first-world infrastructure. Investigation has revealed these dubious edits have been submitted by hackers associated with extreme nationalist factions within the Commonian government. Recently, an AN peacekeeping force was lost for 2 weeks in the rainforest while attempting to use a supposedly reliable map." etc.

I would very much welcome your contribution.

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Comment from Pawl on 10 July 2016 at 05:45

When I first joined OGF, I thought of Commonia as a practice area / sandbox where almost anything goes, rather than as a "real" country. Perhaps what's needed for newbies and experimenters is an largish island which is completely ignored as far as "live OGF" is concerned, while Commonia is divided up into normal countries like the rest of OGF. Anything done in the sandbox island would not have to fit into the OGF environment, and would not necessarily be permanent.

I like Dryerlint's suggestion too - it's a fun solution :)

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Comment from No Way on 10 July 2016 at 15:04

There was a user that thought cleaning up the blue territories meant putting in a motorway system that went through a rural area of Commonia.

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Comment from dryerlint on 10 July 2016 at 16:04

If you guys agree with the "map controversy" idea, I would be willing to write up a wiki article on it.

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Comment from skquinn on 10 July 2016 at 16:52

I think Isleño is on to something regarding Commonia's size. I'm not saying it needs to be broken up, but I do think if we are to have serious countries of the size of Commonia they need to be somewhere between "blue" and "purple" -- new mappers can map them but someone needs to be overseeing the whole thing and making changes/guiding new mappers in the right direction.

We should strongly encourage new mappers to at least look at, but not copy from, real-world (OSM) data before mapping, if not actually spend some time on OSM and familiarizing themselves with their editor of choice (whether that is JOSM, iD, Potlatch, Merkaartor, or something completely new and different).

The biggest problems I've run into in Rhododactylia are:

  1. Real world trademarks (see my previous diary entry).
  2. Areas/buildings being joined to highways (the way designating a highway is the centerline of that highway, buildings and areas should be at least a good 5 m away from it, or more if it's a wider highway or higher class highway).
  3. Unrealistic scale (even luxury hotels shouldn't span more than 4 hectares, come on).

I am also on board with Pawl's idea of Sandbox Island for new mappers, whether on a separate server or just an island not yet existent on the current OGF. If we implement Sandbox Island, we can start turning the existing blue countries into purple countries, and then the quality should go up dramatically. I'm willing to spend a little time with new mappers on Sandbox Island showing them how it should be done, especially if it means I can spend less time doing cleanup in Rhododactylia going forward.

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Comment from refried sushi on 10 July 2016 at 17:04

A modest proposal:

I simply do not understand the need to rationalize the newbie experimentation space at all. It is a necessary evil, a constant problem of verisimilitude and common sense, and per this discussion efforts to improve it are often for naught. In other words, Commonia in particular may be more trouble to maintain than its really worth. Its like keeping a child's scribblings forever and then complaining that they are not art.

So don't maintain it. Drastically reduce the size of the "common" area, (down to a nice sized island perhaps?) and parcel out the remainder to be claimed per usual protocol. Instruct new users to map in this greatly reduced zone ONLY- not to seek out any blue country, but only in this prescribed area for newbies.

Then, wipe it. Accept the fact that newbies will make crap, and after hopefully having concentrated the worst of that crap in one area, schedule a regular erasure of that zone. It is just a blank slate to get the hang of things, and not designed to be permanent. No outlandish explanations or justifications required. Is this so hopelessly naïve?

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Comment from refried sushi on 10 July 2016 at 17:07

Ah, I see @skquinn basically beat me by 12 minutes. Sandbox island, like he/she said!

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Comment from Luciano on 10 July 2016 at 23:26

OK, these are all excellent thoughts and questions. Now, the technical question:

There is no practical way to place "zone restrictions" on where users can map. That's a general feature (bug?) of the OSM system that OGF uses. So we can't control where newbies map - it's on them to behave properly and follow the rules.

The question, then, is how do we communicate more effectively with new users about where to map? Who's got brainstorms about that? Many users join OGF, intelligently study the About and FAQ, surf around the wiki and OGF:Territories map, and only THEN begin to map something somewhere. But for each of these users, another user signs up for OGF, gets his/her password, and without nary a thought says "oh, this spot needs a new motorway!" with no regard to whether that spot is: a) in someone's country b) is in the middle of the ocean c) is already dense with motorways. Etc. I can point to two examples from the last 8 hours.

OK, that's the technical question.

Also, one comment about everyone's comments. My initial frustration, or "rant," was actually NOT about newbies. I mostly accept the reality that we will sometimes have issues with bad mapping, and with newbies who don't understand the rules. I actually became angry and frustrated because it was LONG-TERM users, apparently responding to my July Mapper's Challenge, who were making the messes in Commonia. That was frustrating because LONG-TERM users should know better, and because the issue becomes one of "failure of community" rather than "poor communication to new users."

So while I appreciate all the brainstorming about how to handle newbies, in fact, the "blue country problem" is actually not about newbies, but rather long-term users who "don't play well with others." This is a different kind of problem. Thoughts?

To be clear, we have plenty of antisocial users. I would say for each active user who participates in these diaries and posts to the wiki, we have 2 other active users who simply work on their territory quietly and don't interact at all. That's totally OK. What concerns me is when "antisocial" users (for whatever reason) try to participate in the community (including especially mapping in "blue" territories), but for whatever reason fail spectacularly. How do we, as a community, manage that?

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Comment from Ūdilugbulgidħū on 11 July 2016 at 01:34

Basically, we think about what we want, and we act on it. If we can do that, I think your frustration may be productive after all.

A possible suggestion: we plan better, we use a loose framework, and we 'section' areas of the map so these conflicts and frustrations become less problematic.

For example, we help collaborative users to map in certain areas, non-collaborative users in others - I mean semi-continental scale, not country scale. We take non-collaborative mappers out of collaborative areas. That could also be done by asking for users more questions - or more targeted questions - before they are allocated a country.

We give new users a longer probation period and confine early edits to smaller areas (I've certainly had trouble with new users suddenly creating big highway systems in Commonia in the last few months, some abandoned, some still there). Following on from that, we may better be able to tell whether they'll work collaboratively or individually.

Also we withdraw 'abandoned/neglected' countries much more systematically (i.e. fixed time period following last edit) and more frequently. Countries, some with with massive motorway systems in place - and nothing else - which haven't been touched for months (even in one case I think a year) are an invitation for other mappers to emulate either in blue countries or in their own.

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Comment from isleño on 11 July 2016 at 08:22

I think the problem in Commonia is lack of coordination, which comes from newbies and long-term antisocial users (and even sociable people who might just have very different visions of what the place is like).

For coherent and realistic development of a massive and largely empty area, coordination is essential. That's why I think the bulk of Commonia should be purple ("coordination required!"), not blue ("coordination not required").

It's clear to me that "coordination not required" works better in a country that naturally encourages coordination through small size and high density — a country where the empty areas are small enough that most people realize they need to think about details instead of grand outlines, and where the density is high enough that most people understand the need to fit in with the surroundings, because the surroundings can't just be ignored.

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Comment from _zM on 12 July 2016 at 19:09


It's clear to me that "coordination not required" works better in a country that naturally encourages coordination through small size and high density — a country where the empty areas are small enough that most people realize they need to think about details instead of grand outlines, and where the density is high enough that most people understand the need to fit in with the surroundings, because the surroundings can't just be ignored.

Exactly. That is the situation in Gobrassanya right now, and it seems to be working. Yes there is a certain amount of collaboration involved, but that is (as far as I can tell) basically limited to Gobras City. In other areas you can basically be ignored completely by other mappers.

But Gobrassanya still works. There are realistic cities in realistic locations, with a realistic size and a still larger than usual system of motorways around them, however - in contrast to Commonia - can be explained somehow.

Honestly, I would like to have started mapping in Gobrassanya.

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Comment from isleño on 13 July 2016 at 10:29

Thanks _zM, I think you said it better than I did. Most of the "collaboration" in Gobrassanya isn't people actually communicating with each other, but rather people who are aware of what's being mapped around them and making an effort to contribute constructively. Collaboration without communication... or something like that, haha.

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