„Nominal Members“ of OSM?

by Pascal Neis - Published: August 20th, 2010

There has been an exciting question on the German OSM mailing list yesterday (here). To clarify this question a little to the readers of this blog, the OSM member basically asked if anybody knows how many users ever really worked on a single note in OSM at all, and how many so called “nominal members” (members that never touched any node in OSM) can be found in OSM?

It sounded interesting to me, so I started working on a way to figure out the numbers. My results showed that the entire OSM planet file (dated 08/18/2010) has about 735 million nodes that have been provided by about 93.000 OSM members. 60 million ways were mapped by 68.000 members and about 10.000 members were involved with the creation of almost 690.000 relations. The history of the objects could not be considered during the analysis! In total there were about 98.000 members that contributed to the OSM database.

However, these numbers still show an interesting result considering the actual amount of 290.000 registered OSM members. So the question remains if there are a lot of members in OSM who are still standing in the waiting line and will start with their first edits pretty soon?

To see what the numbers looked like one year ago, I changed the tool that I created one more time and repeated the analysis with the planet file of 08/19/2009. I received the following results: At the given time there were about 412 million nodes provided by 49.000 members in the database. 32 million ways were mapped by 41.000 members and about 6.000 members were involved with the creation of almost 180.000 relations.

This means that one year ago all OSM data has been provided by 51.000 members although there were about 145.000 members registered. Thus, in the year 2009 about 35% of registered members did at least one edit on the OSM database. This number does not really change with the latest OSM dataset, with 290.000 registered members and about 98.000 members with at least one edit which represent about 34%!

To give a better overview, here are even more numbers for the year 2008: 253 million nodes provided by 15.000 members. 20 million ways mapped by almost 14.000 members and about 16.000 relations created by 1.600 members. In total there were about 16.000 members that contributed to the OSM database, while there were about 55.000 members registered. Thus, the percentage of active registered members lies around 29%.

In general the remaining question is: What happened to the other 65% that registered for the project but did not contribute to it? Is it too hard or too complicated to contribute to the project? Did those members just collect data for a short period of time? Is that why they do not show up in the analysis shown above?

thx @ Dennis for helping me with the translation!