It’s about time – OpenStreetMap Contributor Activity Report 2013

by Pascal Neis - Published: August 10th, 2013

One and a half years ago (end of 2011), one of my open access publications (“Analyzing the Contributor Activity of a Volunteered Geographic Information Project — The Case of OpenStreetMap“) was published. It contained several interesting findings about the contributions made by the community of the OSM project. The results showed that the community follows a particular pattern that many other online community based projects tend to struggle with too. Only a small number of the members really contribute in a meaningful way to the project. Additionally, the publication illustrated how many contributors are located in Europe and other areas of the world and how and where mappers contribute data over a certain period time.

I thought it was time to update this information with some new statistics. Between the end of 2011 and July 2013 the number of registered OSM members has increased more than two-an-a-half times to almost 1.34 Mio. Based on the freely available changeset dump of the project it is quite easy to check how many members created at least one changeset and thus hopefully made an edit to the database. The following figure shows the increase of registered members and the aforementioned results of the analysis of the changeset dump of July 31st, 2013.


By the end of 2011 almost 43% of the 505,000 registered members created at least one changeset. This number decreased by July 2013 to only 26% (355,000) of the 1.34 Mio registered members. As some of you already know, the real-number of actual contributors is also far below this. I decided to look into this in a little bit more detail and created some diagrams that show the number of changesets and active contributors per month. We can see a few events that had an impact on the numbers in the diagrams. First, the license-change in April 2012 followed by the run of the redaction bot in July 2012 (HDYC-profile) and at the end the release of the new OSM iD editor in May 2013. The number of changesets has not changed a lot when comparing current (July, 2013) numbers with prior months of last year.


The last diagram of this blog post shows the active contributors per month. The collected information tells us that the total number of “long-time” contributors is increasing whereas the number of “new” contributors is more or less on the same level in recent months.


It is also interesting to see an impact of “new” members in the month before the license change (March, 2012). Anyway, for the last one and a half years the number of active contributors per month is consistent with a total number between 19,000 and 23,000. What do you think?

You will find additional OSM editor usage statistics (by Oli-Wan) in the OSM Wiki. Also, it is interesting to see that currently the number of newly registered members is only growing between 700 and 900 per day. In the time before August, 2013 is was between 3,000 and 4,000 per day! Did anyone change something in the registration process at, e.g. a new security/login mechanism during account creation?

Thanks to maɪˈæmɪ Dennis

PS: Happy 9th Birthday OpenStreetMap!