OpenStreetMap Meeting MatchMaker

rweait's picture

We know that OpenStreetMap has great data. Looking deeper, we know that the best data in OpenStreetMap is where there are more local contributors. If you want your city, state and country to have better data, you need more local mappers. Here are steps you can take to improve the quality and quantity of your local data by making mapping more fun for more mappers.

Local Mapping Events

Local events for mappers have a long tradition on OpenStreetMap. Legend has it that OpenStreetMap was founded around a table at a pub in London. Deliberate advocacy has taken the form of Mapping Parties, Pub meets, and Mappy Hour events for years.

Local OpenStreetMap events are easier to find in Britain and Europe than North America. Potential North American event organizers have faced some challenges. We can address that here. Use this article and the comments below as a matchmaking service. We can get all of the parties interested in local OpenStreetMap events aligned and moving in the right direction for their area.

What is Mappy Hour

Mappy Hour is a take off on the term Happy Hour, a promotional time at a food venue. Mappy Hour need not be related to a food venue, or the consumption of any particular class of beverages. Mappy Hour is a promotional time for mapping. For contributing to OpenStreetMap. It isn't necessary to actually map at Mappy Hour. The goal of Mappy Hour is to get people excited about mapping. The goal of Mappy Hour is to create connections between local mappers to encourage cooperation, peer coaching, and encouragement. The goal of Mappy Hour is to see that people who arrive with questions have an opportunity to ask them.

Mappy Hour requirements

Organizer

Without an organizer, your local OpenStreetMap events will never occur. Never. Somebody has to decide to do it, then actually do it. This can be you. An organizer should be well informed about the basics of OpenStreetMap and able to say, let's ask other attendees / look that up on the help site / wiki.

The key tasks of the organizer are to:

  • Get the ball rolling. Set a date, time, location for the first events.
  • Promote the initial events.
  • Get the others talking at the events.
  • Direct the conversations in beneficial ways.

The organizer has been successful once the regulars take organizing roles and the events become self-sustaining. The work load on an organizer decreases over time in a successful community.

Want to organize a local event? Great, do so! If you need help, or just want to get the word out, here, add your information (and / or questions) in the comments and speak up on your local mailing list.

Venue

Mappy Hour events have been held at restaurants, libraries, pubs, private residences, coffee shops and public meeting rooms.

Your venue selection may skew your attendance demographics. Ideally, you'd like a place that is accessible, safe, well lit and welcoming to potential mappers. Some venues require reservations, and / or rental.

If you have a venue and are sympathetic to OpenStreetMap event organizers, speak up! Organizers are always looking for an ideal venue. If you have just added your pizza shop to OpenStreetMap but you don't know what the next step is, perhaps connecting you with a local organizer is the way to go. Use the comments below to let us know about you. Be sure to include your email address (it won't be published with your permission) if you want a private reply.

Date and time

The date and time you choose may also skew your demographics. Mappy Hour events can be set for workday evenings, for weekend days, or for any other date and time. Somebody won't be able to make it. It is impossible to select a date and time to satisfy everybody. Do the best that you can. Be sure that the date and time works for you, the organizer.

Attendees

Reach out to the obvious places to find your initial attendees. Use your local OpenStreetMap mailing lists, use site mail to contact local mappers. Reach out to other local groups likely to have an interest. Turn attendees into regulars by forcing them to have a good time. :)

If you would like to attend a local OpenStreetMap event, say so. Use the comments below, and speak up on your local mailing list. Some times a potential organizer does not realize that other locals are just waiting for them to get the ball rolling.

Regulars

Once your community has regular attendees, your Mappy Hour is making nice progress. Those regulars with special interests and expertise should have the opportunity to discuss them within reason. If a cycling question comes up, there may be a cycling expert available.

The organizer should encourage and enable regulars to take an organizing role. This shares the organizing burden and makes the group more resilient. Regulars can run events even if the founding organizer moves away, goes on vacation, or is otherwise unavailable.

Tips for success

Organizers shouldn't lead every conversation. Get the others talking. Prepare a list of talking points in advance if you like. Have you seen this new QA tool?, Who plans to attend that conference?

Organizers and attendees should be aware of the needs of the venue. Remember to thank your hosts. If there is an expectation that attendees buy food and drink, participate in that.

Once you have regulars, start to consider their preferences for venue, date and time. Until you have regulars, the most important attendee is the organizer, because if you can't organize it and make it, who will?

Select a consistent venue, date and time, and stick to it the best that you can. Once you have sufficient regulars and trusted lieutenants that the Mappy Hour is self-sustaining, consider branching out to build additional communities. Did you start on weekend days? Try week nights for the additional events. Don't cancel a successful community, build another one to complement it.

Attendees, be good about indicating your plans to attend or not. Some organizers and venues will have more or less flexibility for groups of different sizes. So, RSVP.

Attendees, remember to thank your organizer and the host venue. They will appreciate it. Join the conversations. Ask questions and answer them when you can. Have fun. Become a regular.

Existing groups

Perhaps there is already an OpenStreetMap group that meets near you? Have a look on the user group map.

Organizers, add your group information and keep it up to date.

OpenStreetMap user groups map

Credits

Map data is ©OpenStreetMap Contributors and licensed ODbL

Some map images include Tiles courtesy MapQuest.com.

Talking mappers photo is © R. Weait.

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