Responding to vandalism

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Responding to vandalism

Manohar Erikipati
Hi all,

Last saturday, Central park in New York City was vandalized by a new OSM user `Meowthreetimes` in all the map edits:

- 46756622 introduced a fictional lake inside Central park https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/46756622
- 46756461 renamed Central park in https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/427818536/history
- 46756506 introduced a fictional lake near Fort worth Dallas http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/479837732/history

It took 2 days for the edits to be noticed and reverted on one of the most popular locations in the world. 

This was possibly preventable with a more active mapping community, but a previous incident [1] highlights how simple cases like dragged ways can stay around the map for months under the eyes of local mappers. The current strategy of leaving changeset comments to users to prevent bad edits does not scale, especially if the mappers do not read messages like Maps.me editors [2], or if there are no expert mappers in the area who are knowledgeable in reporting and reverting changes.

Thinking out loud on how we could better improve the current process to act on bad edits:

- DWG currently acts promptly on incidents reported via email, but we need a more accessible mechanism that allows new users to report such incidents directly from the website or editors. The email details and existence of DWG, is only available currently in the wiki [3]
- Auto-blocking known vandals to prevent repeated attacks [4]
- An organised repository to report and learn from previous attacks. There seems to have been an effort to do this many years ago on the wiki [5]
- More visibility, awareness of QA tools and history tab on the OSM homepage. Most of the really powerful QA tools like osmhv and osmose are only known to advanced users.

It would be great to hear more approaches that could protect the map against common mistakes and intentional attacks. Much of the world lacks an active mapping community, so it is up to a small set of power mappers to catch and revert most of the bad edits [6]. Building better support systems to respond to bad edits could help more experienced mappers focus on community building activities. 


[1] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/PlaneMad/diary/40491
[2] https://github.com/mapsme/omim/issues/4188
[3] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Vandalism
[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Autoblock
[5] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/List_of_Vandalism_Changesets
[6] http://osmcha.mapbox.com/?usernames=woodpeck_repair%2C+zool%2C+SomeoneElse_Revert%2C+mavl%2C+pnorman_mechanical%2C+_sev%2C+OSMF+Data+Working+Group%2C+Peda%2C+FTA_dwg%2C+Deanna+Earley%2C+Firefishy_repair%2C+drolbr%2C+emacsen_dwg%2C+sly&is_suspect=False&is_whitelisted=All&checked=False




Best,

Manohar Erikipati

osm : manoharuss

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Sebastiaan Couwenberg
On 2017-03-16 14:47, Manohar Erikipati wrote:
> It would be great to hear more approaches that could protect the map
> against common mistakes and intentional attacks. Much of the world
> lacks an active mapping community, so it is up to a small set of power
> mappers to catch and revert most of the bad edits [6]. Building better
> support systems to respond to bad edits could help more experienced
> mappers focus on community building activities.

This is a symptom of the extremely low barrier of entry and lack of
guidance of new contributors. Anyone can signup and start breaking the
production database.

OSM lacks a good staging area where new contributors can experiment and
learn without breaking the production data.

Setting up your own fork of OSM for personal use like these kind of
fictional maps is also too high, you need a powerful and costly server
to handle the full planet and have good rendering performance.

It would be awesome to have a GitHub-like workflow for OSM, where users
fork main planet and make their customization and submit pull requests
to get their changes merged back into the planet. But the resources
required for this are simply too great.

Introducing restrictions on what new mappers can edit may also help,
editing well mapped areas is non-trivial with routes and turn
restrictions on roads, large multipolygons for different landuses, etc.
New mappers should learn how to work in those environments without
breaking things before they can change those objects.

I consider OSM a database were geospatial data is integrated like
software is in Linux distributions. None of the established
distributions allow new contributors to upload their changes to
production environments without review, OSM shouldn't either.

The current free-for-all policy is fine for unmapped areas, there you
want a low barrier of entry for new contributors without too much
bureaucracy, but in well mapped areas different policies should apply.

Kind Regards,

Bas

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Clifford Snow
In reply to this post by Manohar Erikipati

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 6:47 AM, Manohar Erikipati <[hidden email]> wrote:
- DWG currently acts promptly on incidents reported via email, but we need a more accessible mechanism that allows new users to report such incidents directly from the website or editors. The email details and existence of DWG, is only available currently in the wiki [3]
- Auto-blocking known vandals to prevent repeated attacks [4] 
- An organised repository to report and learn from previous attacks. There seems to have been an effort to do this many years ago on the wiki [5] 
- More visibility, awareness of QA tools and history tab on the OSM homepage. Most of the really powerful QA tools like osmhv and osmose are only known to advanced users.
 
It would be great to hear more approaches that could protect the map against common mistakes and intentional attacks. Much of the world lacks an active mapping community, so it is up to a small set of power mappers to catch and revert most of the bad edits [6]. Building better support systems to respond to bad edits could help more experienced mappers focus on community building activities.

Manohar,
My experience is most of these edits can be cleaned up easily with simple edits. Some need full reverting, which can be done using JOSM, while others need careful pruning of the bad but leaving the good. I've fixed numerous pokemon edits in Washington State. I've only had to go to DWG 2or 3 time. I don't think we need to involve DWG in every case.

I've send changeset comments and messages. Other than one belligerent individual who promised to report me if I kept reverting his phony edits, I've never heard back from any of them. There have been a number of example of appropriate changeset comments posted on talk and talk-us that let the mapper know the behavior isn't appreciated but also encourages them to become an active contributor. I suspect pokemon players could become prolific mappers.

A tool that flags new parks, don't just look for named parks, but all parks - some of the players haven't gotten the word that it's only named parks, and new water features would be useful. Right now Ian Dees has a bot running on slack [1] and IRC[2] that picks up new users from the changeset feed. Sure it would be nice of someone could develop a similar bot to watch for new users adding pokemon features. But until we have that tool we really need to encourage more people to watch edits in their area. 

Best,
Clifford

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Re: Responding to vandalism

James-2
Even if we had a Git pull request sort of mechanism, who would "approve" edits? DWG? They are volunteers and wouldn't have time to validate the millions of changesets that would come in. On the opposite end of the spectrum, people could just flat out deny good edits which would make many leave. Putting a restriction on "new" accounts is easily bypassable by creating an account make a couple(30+ good changesets(very small)) wait a couple days, then deface the map. The more restrictions you put, the smarter people will get (just look at CAPTCHA, for bots, people would upload images of captchas to a service which real people would solve and return the answer to the bots). It's OPENStreetMap, not CLOSEDStreetMap

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 10:48 AM, Clifford Snow <[hidden email]> wrote:

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 6:47 AM, Manohar Erikipati <[hidden email]> wrote:
- DWG currently acts promptly on incidents reported via email, but we need a more accessible mechanism that allows new users to report such incidents directly from the website or editors. The email details and existence of DWG, is only available currently in the wiki [3]
- Auto-blocking known vandals to prevent repeated attacks [4] 
- An organised repository to report and learn from previous attacks. There seems to have been an effort to do this many years ago on the wiki [5] 
- More visibility, awareness of QA tools and history tab on the OSM homepage. Most of the really powerful QA tools like osmhv and osmose are only known to advanced users.
 
It would be great to hear more approaches that could protect the map against common mistakes and intentional attacks. Much of the world lacks an active mapping community, so it is up to a small set of power mappers to catch and revert most of the bad edits [6]. Building better support systems to respond to bad edits could help more experienced mappers focus on community building activities.

Manohar,
My experience is most of these edits can be cleaned up easily with simple edits. Some need full reverting, which can be done using JOSM, while others need careful pruning of the bad but leaving the good. I've fixed numerous pokemon edits in Washington State. I've only had to go to DWG 2or 3 time. I don't think we need to involve DWG in every case.

I've send changeset comments and messages. Other than one belligerent individual who promised to report me if I kept reverting his phony edits, I've never heard back from any of them. There have been a number of example of appropriate changeset comments posted on talk and talk-us that let the mapper know the behavior isn't appreciated but also encourages them to become an active contributor. I suspect pokemon players could become prolific mappers.

A tool that flags new parks, don't just look for named parks, but all parks - some of the players haven't gotten the word that it's only named parks, and new water features would be useful. Right now Ian Dees has a bot running on slack [1] and IRC[2] that picks up new users from the changeset feed. Sure it would be nice of someone could develop a similar bot to watch for new users adding pokemon features. But until we have that tool we really need to encourage more people to watch edits in their area. 

Best,
Clifford

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Jean-Marc Liotier
In reply to this post by Clifford Snow
On Thu, 16 Mar 2017 07:48:10 -0700
Clifford Snow <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
> a bot running on slack and IRC that picks up new users from the
> changeset feed. Sure it would be nice of someone could develop
> a similar bot to watch for new users

Use the excellent
http://resultmaps.neis-one.org/newestosmcreatefeed.php and feed the RSS
into whatever you use for notifying.

Users who have invested into a number of Openstreetmap contributions
seldom spend their karma into vandalism, so my experience is that
patrolling contributions by new users catches most deliberate mayhem.

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Clifford Snow

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 8:03 AM, Jean-Marc Liotier <[hidden email]> wrote:
Users who have invested into a number of Openstreetmap contributions
seldom spend their karma into vandalism, so my experience is that
patrolling contributions by new users catches most deliberate mayhem.

+1


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Re: Responding to vandalism

joost
2017-03-16 16:15 GMT+01:00 Clifford Snow <[hidden email]>:

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 8:03 AM, Jean-Marc Liotier <[hidden email]> wrote:
Users who have invested into a number of Openstreetmap contributions
seldom spend their karma into vandalism, so my experience is that
patrolling contributions by new users catches most deliberate mayhem.

+1


Exactly! Which is why it is so important to review every first changesets of every new contributor. We have a user in Belgium doing that, and adding some info to https://welcome.osm.be/ , so we can follow up with more people.


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Re: Responding to vandalism

Sebastiaan Couwenberg
In reply to this post by James-2
On 2017-03-16 16:01, James wrote:
> Even if we had a Git pull request sort of mechanism, who would
> "approve"
> edits?

Anyone with maintainer priviledges in the respective local community.
This privilege is earned by proving skill.

Kind Regards,

Bas

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Re: Responding to vandalism

James-2
and maintainers privileges, would be determined by whom? Other maintainers? Then you have whats going on on Wikipedia Fr where it's controlled by a small group of close friends that refuse anything outside their norms, which is bad.

On Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 12:17 PM, Bas Couwenberg <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 2017-03-16 16:01, James wrote:
Even if we had a Git pull request sort of mechanism, who would "approve"
edits?

Anyone with maintainer priviledges in the respective local community. This privilege is earned by proving skill.

Kind Regards,

Bas

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Sebastiaan Couwenberg
On 03/16/2017 05:30 PM, James wrote:
> and maintainers privileges, would be determined by whom? Other maintainers?

Yes, the local community grants that privilege.

When the local community is dysfunctional there is the overriding
authority of OSMF WGs like DWG. Like we have the Technical Commitee in
Debian or General Resolutions (project wide votes).

> Then you have whats going on on Wikipedia Fr where it's controlled by a
> small group of close friends that refuse anything outside their norms,
> which is bad.

Wikipedia is not a model that one should choose to model, Linux
distributions are a much better role model.

Kind Regards,

Bas

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Re: Responding to vandalism

James-2
People can't even be bothered to review osmcha, you think people will want to approve changesets?

On Mar 16, 2017 1:07 PM, "Sebastiaan Couwenberg" <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 03/16/2017 05:30 PM, James wrote:
> and maintainers privileges, would be determined by whom? Other maintainers?

Yes, the local community grants that privilege.

When the local community is dysfunctional there is the overriding
authority of OSMF WGs like DWG. Like we have the Technical Commitee in
Debian or General Resolutions (project wide votes).

> Then you have whats going on on Wikipedia Fr where it's controlled by a
> small group of close friends that refuse anything outside their norms,
> which is bad.

Wikipedia is not a model that one should choose to model, Linux
distributions are a much better role model.

Kind Regards,

Bas

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Yves
Another approach is a middle player between the raw DB and the data consumers.
Yves
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Re: Responding to vandalism

Sebastiaan Couwenberg
In reply to this post by James-2
On 03/16/2017 06:13 PM, James wrote:
> People can't even be bothered to review osmcha, you think people will want
> to approve changesets?

Eventually, yes. It will become part of a responsible and thriving local
community. Debian managed to transition from a free-for-all (just
mailing the project leader) to a new-maintainer process and sponsors in
teams to assist new contributors.

Kind Regards,

Bas

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Dave F
In reply to this post by James-2

On 16/03/2017 17:13, James wrote:
> People can't even be bothered to review osmcha, you think people will
> want to approve changesets?
>

Could that be because it's not the very user friendly site? The filter
options are overly complicated & doesn't even save them!

DaveF

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Frederik Ramm
In reply to this post by Sebastiaan Couwenberg
Hi,

On 16.03.2017 15:46, Bas Couwenberg wrote:
> OSM lacks a good staging area where new contributors can experiment and
> learn without breaking the production data.

I had offered the technical infrastructure for this

https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/dev/2016-November/029557.html

but not had any takers willing to do the work until now.

Bye
Frederik

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Michael Reichert
In reply to this post by Clifford Snow
Hi,

Am 2017-03-16 um 15:48 schrieb Clifford Snow:

> Manohar,
> My experience is most of these edits can be cleaned up easily with simple
> edits. Some need full reverting, which can be done using JOSM, while others
> need careful pruning of the bad but leaving the good. I've fixed numerous
> pokemon edits in Washington State. I've only had to go to DWG 2or 3 time. I
> don't think we need to involve DWG in every case.
>
> I've send changeset comments and messages. Other than one belligerent
> individual who promised to report me if I kept reverting his phony edits,
> I've never heard back from any of them. There have been a number of example
> of appropriate changeset comments posted on talk and talk-us that let the
> mapper know the behavior isn't appreciated but also encourages them to
> become an active contributor. I suspect pokemon players could become
> prolific mappers.
I can second that. I did Pokémon cleaning in Germany. The majority of
them doesn't edit OSM a second time. Some of the do, therefore I add all
users whose edits I reverted to my RSS feed reader for a few weeks to
check if future edits are ok. I had three cases when those users
continued mapping. Only one of them really needed a 0-hour block to read
his changeset comments.

> A tool that flags new parks, don't just look for named parks, but all parks
> - some of the players haven't gotten the word that it's only named parks,
> and new water features would be useful. Right now Ian Dees has a bot
> running on slack [1] and IRC[2] that picks up new users from the changeset
> feed. Sure it would be nice of someone could develop a similar bot to watch
> for new users adding pokemon features. But until we have that tool we
> really need to encourage more people to watch edits in their area.

A tool which looks for the editing patterns currently used by Pokémon
mappers would be very good. What about an additional filter for OSMCHA?
The filter should be adapted if the editing pattern changes, i.e. some
mappers should look what Pokémon player are currently discussing about
on the social media (i.e. do spying).

> [1] https://osmus.slack.com/messages/new-mappers
> [2]  irc://irc.oftc.net #osm-bot

You can also use http://resultmaps.neis-one.org/newestosm?c=Germany to
look for new mappers. If you review changesets by newbies, please write
a changeset comment that you reverted the edits if you did it. You
should be honest towards the user whose edits you reverted and other
reviewers are happy if they don't have to review a changeset which has
already been reverted.

Best regards

Michael

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Michael Reichert
In reply to this post by Manohar Erikipati
Hi Manohar,

Am 2017-03-16 um 14:47 schrieb Manohar Erikipati:
> - DWG currently acts promptly on incidents reported via email, but we
> need a more accessible mechanism that allows new users to report such
> incidents directly from the website or editors. The email details and
> existence of DWG, is only available currently in the wiki [3]

There was a GSoC project about a "report" button two years ago, wasn't it?

> - Auto-blocking known vandals to prevent repeated attacks [4]

No! We are not the German Wikipedia. Users should only be blocked after
two humans verified that a user block is reasonable. Don't do
overblocking. Most of the overblocked users won't try to lift their block.

> - More visibility, awareness of QA tools and history tab on the OSM
> homepage. Most of the really powerful QA tools like osmhv and osmose
> are only known to advanced users.

That's a desing problem of osm.org. The website is too much focussed on
the map. The full opposite is openstreetmap.de (only available in German
and needs some care) which highlights that OSM is a collection of
projects, not a map.

> It would be great to hear more approaches that could protect the map
> against common mistakes and intentional attacks. Much of the world
> lacks an active mapping community, so it is up to a small set of power
> mappers to catch and revert most of the bad edits [6]. Building better
> support systems to respond to bad edits could help more experienced
> mappers focus on community building activities.
>
>
> [1] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/PlaneMad/diary/40491
> [2] https://github.com/mapsme/omim/issues/4188
> [3] https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Vandalism
> [4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Autoblock
> [5] http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/List_of_Vandalism_Changesets
> [6] http://osmcha.mapbox.com/?usernames=woodpeck_repair%2C+zool%2C+SomeoneElse_Revert%2C+mavl%2C+pnorman_mechanical%2C+_sev%2C+OSMF+Data+Working+Group%2C+Peda%2C+FTA_dwg%2C+Deanna+Earley%2C+Firefishy_repair%2C+drolbr%2C+emacsen_dwg%2C+sly&is_suspect=False&is_whitelisted=All&checked=False
Your list contains only DWG members. There is a handful of mappers who
also clean up bad edits and work as an unorganized protection shield of
DWG, i.e. they comment and clean and only contact the DWG if they need a
user block. Some of them use dedicated revert accounts:

DD1GJ,Nakaner-repair,highflyer74,BeKri,tux67

Btw, using a revert account like I do it, is a good idea. It keeps your
statistics clean.

Best regards

Michael


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Re: Responding to vandalism

Frederik Ramm
In reply to this post by Manohar Erikipati
Hi,

   I find it a bit unfortunate that you have chosen to use "vandalism"
in the subject, even though you later write

On 16.03.2017 14:47, Manohar Erikipati wrote:
> ... protect the map against common mistakes and intentional attacks.

I think that "common mistakes" (mostly, beginner's mistakes) and
intentional attacks are two very different things that need very
different strategies.

And in vandalism, I would also distinguish between teenage doodles
("penis! ha ha ha!"), and serious concerted efforts to harm OSM. The
latter we haven't seen yet, but need to be prepared to face in the future.

> Much of the world lacks an active mapping community

It is my personal belief that OSM can never work without an active local
mapping community. That's one reason why I am always skeptical about
armchair mapping or massive imports (or even using machine learning to
generate data). These techniques help to fill the map with nice colours
but they don't give us what OSM thrives on - local mappers.

Hence, the #1 strategy against "there's no local community that helps
newbies and reports vandals" for me is always: Attract a local
community. Put more cynically: A map without a local community is not
able to survive, and has never been, and it was perhaps a mistake to put
it there in the first place.

Bye
Frederik

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Re: Responding to vandalism

Mike N.
On 3/16/2017 2:04 PM, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> And in vandalism, I would also distinguish between teenage doodles
> ("penis! ha ha ha!"), and serious concerted efforts to harm OSM.

   Then there's the serious and real ha ha ha
http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=19/41.84196/-89.48580

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/10/31/from-the-sky-dixon-church-looks-like-a-penis/


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Re: Responding to vandalism

Nicolás Alvarez
2017-03-16 16:00 GMT-03:00 Mike N <[hidden email]>:
> On 3/16/2017 2:04 PM, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>>
>> And in vandalism, I would also distinguish between teenage doodles
>> ("penis! ha ha ha!"), and serious concerted efforts to harm OSM.
>
>
>   Then there's the serious and real ha ha ha
> http://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=19/41.84196/-89.48580

Not so real; the actual church shape is quite different. Bing's
imagery is way too old, but if you compare with USGS Large Scale
Imagery (or with the Google photo in the article you linked), you can
see that someone simply freehand-drew a penis-shaped building there.

--
Nicolás

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