Help:Frequently asked questions

From OpenGeofiction
Revision as of 21:51, 6 September 2021 by Alessa (talk | contribs) (Further major updates pending)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Noun Project translation icon 24074 cc.svg English (authoritative)češtinaespañolFrançaisNederlandsPolski汉语Română

Getting started

What is OpenGeofiction?

OpenGeofiction (OGF) is based on the OpenStreetMap software platform, which means that all map editors and other tools suitable for OpenStreetMap can be used to build OGF's fictional world. This world is set in modern times, so it doesn't have orcs or elves, but rather power plants, motorways and housing projects. But also picturesque old towns, beautiful national parks and lonely beaches.

Different users view OGF in different ways. For some, it's an exciting creative adventure, a challenging construction puzzle, or an epic tapestry of interwoven stories. For others, it's a relaxing meditation, an immersion in imagination, or perhaps the largest piece of artwork ever created — equal in size to the Earth itself.

If you'd like to help build this world, you are very welcome to join.

How do I sign up?

It's easy. See our About page for details.

May I create more than one account?

No, only one account is allowed per user.

Where are the rules?

Rules are posted on our Policies page.

I have a country or city I've developed elsewhere, but I'd like to bring it into this world. Is that possible?

Yes, we welcome experienced mapmakers and we've incorporated a number of areas which were originally developed independently. Contact admin and let us know if you're interested.

Can I map in any language?

Yes, we welcome different languages! Parts of our world are mapped in Spanish, Korean, Russian, Welsh, French, Romanian, Hungarian, Portuguese, German, Chinese, Polish, Dutch, and many others.

Geofiction is also a great place and way to provide cultural context for conlangs (invented languages). There are many conlangs being used in OGF, and if you are developing one, by all means, map with it too.

Can you share examples of some of OpenGeofiction's most interesting content?

Check out our Featured Map Archive and our Featured Wiki Article Archive.

Mapping basics

Where do I find tutorials or other documentation about mapping in OpenGeofiction?

The OpenStreetMap project, of which we use the software, has lots of useful documentation, for example:

In addition, we also have a User Help & Resources page here in OpenGeofiction.

Why am I not seeing my recent edits on the map?

Your edits won't show up immediately on the map. That's because the map is rendered from a different database, and the map data have to be transferred there. This process is automated and happens every five minutes. It's somewhat more complicated for coastline data which are only updated every 30 minutes. If your edits still aren't visible in the browser, you might need to clear your browser cache (Ctrl+F5 in Firefox and IE).

When you zoom out to look at countries and continents, you'll notice that changes may take even longer to appear — up to 24 hours, or even longer in some cases. This improves server performance considerably, which is why updates to these zoom levels are delayed.

Why are my changes to the coastline still not shown?

(See previous question.)

Which map editor should I use?

Any number of editors are available, however JOSM is probably the most highly recommended here.

How can I use JOSM for editing the OpenGeofiction map?

If you want to use the JOSM editor, configure the "Connection settings" (via the "Edit -> Preferences" menu), so that the OSM server URL points to our server

as shown here:

How can I display the OpenGeofiction map as background in JOSM?

To display the OpenGeofiction map as background in JOSM, add our server to the "selected entries" in the "Imagery preferences", using the "+TMS" button, as shown in this screenshot:

"OpenGeofiction" should then appear in the "Imagery" menu.

The input values for the several OGF map layers are as listed below.

Layer (5.) URL template (2.)
OSM default style{zoom}/{x}/{y}.png
TopoMap style{zoom}/{x}/{y}.png
Histor style{zoom}/{x}/{y}.png

Once you completed this step, you can then select "OpenGeofiction" as background for the "Download" dialog:

There also exists a JOSM plugin to display any image in the background:

I've drawn a map by hand or in some other program. Can I load the image into JOSM and trace it?

Users who have drawn maps in other programs and want to 'trace' them into OpenGeofiction often find this extremely useful. See OGF:Using Image Files in JOSM for details.

Are there other useful JOSM plugins?

There definitely are. See OGF:Useful JOSM plugins.

I'm having a problem with OAuth, what do I do?

Go to the Preferences pane and select the second tab, with the globe. Then under the tab "Authentication", select "Use basic authentication". Just make sure your username and password are still completed, hit OK, and everything should work fine.

How can I ensure that my creations have a realistic size?

Getting this right can really be hard! Some useful tips include:

File:Josm 04.png
View of JOSM editor, highlighting scale bar and measurement plugin

  • Learn how big things are, for example:
  • Average saloon car: length 4,5m
  • Tram: length 21 - 51m (longest passenger trams in current service 54m)
  • LU 1973 tube stock: length 107m, width 2.6m
  • TGV Sud-Est set: length 200m, width 2.9m
  • Eurostar: length 387m, width 2.8m
  • Airbus A320: length 37.6m, wingspan 38.8m
  • Boeing 747-400: length 70.6m, wingspan 64.4m
  • HMS Victory: length 69m, width 15.7m
  • QE2: length 293m, width 32m,
  • Harmony of the Seas: length 362m, width 66m
  • Seawise Giant: length 458m, width 68.8m

How can I make my maps look more real?

We're glad you asked!

How can I get real OpenStreetMap data into my editor to have an example of how things can be done?

Many users find it useful to view real OpenStreetMap data in JOSM to see how things can be done. To do this, select a suitable city, for example Versailles:

and press the "Export" button. After a moment, you are offered a file "map.osm" for download, which can then be opened in JOSM.

How do I import data from OpenStreetMap into OpenGeofiction?

Don't do that, please! It is against OpenGeofiction rules, and possibly illegal.

Why is there a rule against importing from OpenStreetMap?

  • First, it's against OpenStreetMap's licensing terms to use their data without attribution. It's the same idea behind why YouTube takes down copyright-infringing materials - it's a legal issue.
  • Second, it's rather uncreative. That's not what OpenGeofiction is about.
  • Even if you were to import data from OSM temporarily (and please don't do this!), e.g. to use them as an orientation for object sizes, keep in mind that deleted objects are still kept in the database and unnecessarily take up disk space.

How can I export data from OpenGeofiction?

The export files which are generated for the update process are available for download at Please download regularly from there. These files are also useful if you want to create your own maps from the data, e.g. with the "Maperitive" renderer (

I messed up on the map. Is there an easy way to undo my changes?

JOSM has a Reverter plugin which can be very useful.

Why is everything flooded?

Don't panic, it will be fixed soon. Flooding happens when a user creates an error in the coastline, such as those illustrated in the graphic below.

All users, especially experienced users, are encouraged to help locate the problem and fix it. For details see OGF:Coastline maintenance.

Isleño Graphic Coastline Advice.png


Which territories can I edit?

New users may edit only in territories which are colored blue on our overview map. You are encouraged to read OGF:Blue territory etiquette during and before editing these territories. It is also possible to claim a territory of your own (see below).

How do I request my own territory?

As of February, 2019, the territory granting process has undergone complete revision. For information on how to apply for a territory, see OGF:Territory assignment.

When will I get a response to my territory request?

The regional managers (members of the admin team) are all volunteers, and their time available to respond to requests is sometimes limited. Please be patient if you have requested a territory or inquired about one. Also be observant that sometimes regional managers have set "start dates" or "leaves of absence" for their particular regions (see OGF:Territory assignment), in which case your application for territory may be automatically rejected or simply ignored.

In the meantime, you can obviously continue mapping in the blue territories, and then move whatever you build there into your new country, when it becomes yours. Also, you have the option to seek to participate in a collaborative territory. While awaiting a response about a territory application, you are not exempt from the rules. Impatience for your own territory is not a reasonable excuse for breaking rules, and doing such will see your request moved to the bottom of the territory-granting queue when the time comes to evaluate qualification for a territory.

What should I do if there's something already mapped in my territory?

If you claim a territory where the previous owner has already mapped something, it's your choice whether to delete it, modify it, or include it in your own work.

The only exception is for large international geographic features, such as major deserts and rain forests that span multiple countries. You can modify these features, but we ask that you preserve them. When in doubt, feel free to message the admins.

Can I split up my territory into several countries?

Yes, you are by no means required to develop your territory as a single country. With the approval of the regional manager you can split your territory in as many countries as you like. Or conversely, if you own multiple adjacent territories, you can unite them to a single country. The regional manager will update the overview map afterwards.

Can I have a second territory?

Yes, once your first territory is filled with a significant amount of content, you can request a second one. See OpenGeofiction:Territory assignment for more details.

Can I modify the coastlines and borders of my territory?

Yes. The coastline and the territory borders are in most regions still very coarse, consisting of straight lines extending many kilometers. You are strongly encouraged to refine your coastlines and borders to make them appear more realistic, as long as you do not extend your territory beyond its shape on the overview map. If your neighboring territories are owned by other users, please coordinate your border modifications with them. Do not change the border of someone else's country without permission. For borders with unclaimed neighbors you may add detail as you see fit, but please keep within 10 km of the original line.

Also, note that country borders itself might sometimes make interesting map features, see for example here
or here

This is even more true for coastlines. So if you want a coastline like this
or this
or this,
go ahead!

Important: Be careful when drawing coastlines, the way direction MUST always run counter-clockwise around the land area, i.e. the sea must be to the right and land to the left side of the way, relative to the way direction. (If you violate this rule, you'll cause an earthquake that will raise the seafloor and a tsunami that will drown the entire continent).

An easy way to visualize this is to draw a circle with arrows going the opposite direction of the clock. The land will be in the center of the circle and the sea to the outside of the circle. if you accidentally reverse the way direction to clockwise the you will flood the entire continent. It can take hours to discover a mistake and then it also takes some time for the coastline repairs to show up in OGF.

Also if there are any disconnected nodes (nodes that overlap but that are not connected) or any gaps in the coastline then the same will result the entire continent or island may become flooded. This is a common issue so it is imperative to be cautions when making coastline edits. When in doubt, Ask!

How do I make the name of my country appear on the map?

To display your country's name on the map, see OGF:Adding your country name to the map, which shows how to change the name tag of your country's boundary relation.

If there's any problem, check to make sure that the relation describes a closed multipolygon. To learn more about boundary relations, see OGF:Administrative boundaries or

The name tag will show your name only on the "Standard" map layer. In the "TopoMap" layer, the country name is never displayed. For the "Histor-Style" layer, create a node in a central location with

place country
name the name of your country
ref country code (optional)

(While we're at it, you might want also want to add your country code to List of country code top level domains.) For sub-national administrative units use "place=state" or any of the options described here, but please note that some of them (e.g. "county") might not be displayed on the map at all.

The reason for those different methods is a change in the OSM Carto style that happened a while ago. There was an extensive discussion on our diary page about this:

How do I make a city name appear on the map?

See OGF:How to make a city name appear on the map.

How do I create states/provinces/regions within my territory?

See OGF:Administrative boundaries for details.

How should I plan out my territory?

Many users have found our tutorial for Making realistic countries to be useful.


How can I contact other users?

Go to the URL, with USERNAME replaced by the actual user name, e.g. The user names of other members can be found on the overview map.

Is there a forum where I can exchange ideas with other users?

We've just opened one here, however posting there requires a wiki account (which is not available until after 7 days of mapping). Therefore new users may post at "User Diaries," which works pretty well as a replacement. To start a thread, go to Other users can then comment on that entry. To check for new entries, check or better subscribe to the RSS feed. Please note "User Diaries" is not meant to be used like a personal diary for regular updates, and overuse can cause annoyance.

For posting regular updates, you will be able to set up a bliki to express your views and share your own mapping, once you have a wiki account.

Please be respectful and sensitive when exchanging ideas with other users, whether in the forum, user diaries or blikis.

What about chat/messaging?

It has been tried in the past, but currently there is no official OGF chat/messaging. For details, see this forum thread. Please note that before forming any OGF-related group off-site (including a chat group) it is necessary to consult with OGF admin.

How can I follow the edits of other users in OpenGeofiction?

You can keep track of other users' edits on the page (There's also an RSS feed that you can subscribe to at

What should I do if someone edited in my territory?

Be nice. Normally this is a new user who doesn't know where to go. Send the person a friendly message pointing them to the policies page. For example:

Hi, this is ______ from OpenGeofiction and I noticed you were mapping in my territory. Please understand that new users may edit only in the blue territories of the overview map, as explained on the policies page. Sorry for the inconvenience. Thanks for understanding!

If this doesn't work, please send a note to the admin team.

How can we help stop new users from editing in the wrong places?

Experienced users are welcome to help at OGF:New user patrol.

Can I copy/paste other users' mapping into my territory?

Only if you get permission from them to do so. And even then, such mapping should be used sparingly, and only for the purpose of creating something genuinely original, not replicating places that exist elsewhere.

Can I build a country together with other users?

Yes of course, groups are welcome to claim countries. You can also browse our list of collaborative projects and feel free to contact any that seem interesting to you.


Is there a wiki or something where I can write background stories about my fictional country?

Yes, there is! In fact you're in it now.

New users receive an account when they are assigned a territory. Other users may contact admin for an account. The guidelines for participation are roughly analogous to those of OGF itself:

  • Generally, you should create/edit only articles about objects that you have mapped yourself.
  • If you have a great idea about someone else's creations, contact that user and discuss it.
  • If you want to write something about the relations between your country and another, also discuss it with that country's owner beforehand.
  • If you are a new member of OpenGeofiction, please sign up to the wiki only after you have mapped something that you can write about.

If you don't feel comfortable with writing articles in English, please use any language you want. Of course, if you want other members to read it, your best chance is probably with using English, but that choice is completely up to you. Any questions about or problems with the wiki can be discussed on the "talk" pages of the wiki itself. In cases where that's not sufficient, contact admin.

How do I create a wiki article?

See OGF:Creating your first article.

How can I see what's new in the wiki?

Click "Recent changes" in the upper left of any wiki page.

What about uploading images to the wiki?

Images are encouraged! Check out our image guidelines page for details.

Am I allowed to edit this wiki FAQ page?

Yes, but this is something for more experienced users. You should know what you're doing. If unsure, write a proposal on the discussion page instead.

About our world

What are the names of the continents?

The names of the continents (corresponding to the two-letter-codes in the territory IDs) are:

Does this world have magical/sci-fi/fantasy elements?

No, this world is a "realistic" one. See OGF:Verisimilitude to learn more.

Technical Questions

Why doesn't the Overpass API work correctly?

The current status of the Overpass API is such that there are technical issues that need to be resolved. Meanwhile, output is sometimes broken and/or out-of-date. Here is an excerpt from a discussion last year:

unfortunately, importing to the Overpass database with the --keep-attic option caused a lot of problems, so I had to disable it. This caused also the metadata do be omitted from the import, which I didn't notice for a while. Now the --meta option at least is activated again, but nevertheless there was a period where no metadata where added.

Of course, the solution to this to have a complete reload of the database, which might be expedient also because a new version of the Overpass software was released recently.

OTOH, now with the EU GDPR having gone into effect, it might not be advisable to reveal users' edit histories to the general public. At least this seems to be the route the OSMF will go about their data. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it's possible to supply the version attribute only without username/timestamp. Things are somewhat up in the air for the moment.

Why doesn't the Nominatum / Search box work correctly?

See discussion at OGF:Nominatim.

How can I make my own OGF-style server?

See discussion at OGF:Setting_up_your_own_server.

What if I have other questions?

Please feel free to contact us by sending a message to the admin team or by email to — you may also find answers by visiting our About page, our User Help and Resources page, and looking through our User Diaries.