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RE: [borderpoint] Re: OpenStreetMaps.org - NatGeo border wars

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  • jakro64
    My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely unreliable as a serious source of geographical information. The Factbook regards Svalbard as a
    Message 1 of 26 , Feb 8, 2010
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      My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely unreliable as a serious source of geographical information. The Factbook regards Svalbard as a separate country without water. Of course it is water on Svalbard, both rivers and lakes. According to CIA it lives about as many Norwegians as Russians in Svalbard. This information is 12 years old.
      One can argue the information is "more or less" correct. But even this is not true. A country which never has claimed independence is here listed as a "country". All data is far from the official.

      The same is with all other countries I have checked.


      Norway (according to Statistics Norway)
      The Kingdom of Norway 384 802 km²
      Mainland 323 782 km²
      Svalbard 61 020 km² - population: 2 573 (2140 persons (83,2%) in Norwegian settlements, 423 (16,4%) in Russian settlements and 10 (0,4%) in Polish settlement.)
      Jan Mayen 377 km²
      Land area, mainland by land cover. Per cent:
      Built-up area 1.4
      Agriculture 3.2
      Marsh/wetland 5.8
      Freshwater and glaciers 7.0
      Forest 38.2
      Mountain and mountain plateau 44.4
      Population at 1 Oct 2009: 4 842 700


      Norway (according to CIA Factbook)
      total: 323,802 sq km
      country comparison to the world: 67
      land: 304,282 sq km
      water: 19,520 sq km
      Population: 4,660,539 (July 2009 est.)
      Svalbard (according to CIA Factbook)
      total: 62,045 sq km
      country comparison to the world: 124
      land: 62,045 sq km
      water: 0 sq km
      note: includes Spitsbergen and Bjornoya (Bear Island)
      Population: 2,116 (July 2009 est.)

      Norwegian 55.4%, Russian and Ukrainian 44.3%, other 0.3% (1998)

      Jan


      -----Original Message-----
      From: borderpoint@yahoogroups.com [mailto:borderpoint@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Peter Smaardijk
      Sent: Sunday, February 07, 2010 10:27 PM
      To: borderpoint@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: RE: [borderpoint] Re: OpenStreetMaps.org - NatGeo border wars



      As for smallest islands that are divided by an international boundary, I recall that some islands in lakes on NOSE, some of them very small, are used as natural boundary markers and therefore bisected by that border. Although I'm not sure the notion "land mass" can be extended to small pieces of rock just barely above the level of inland lakes...

      Peter

      --- On Sun, 2/7/10, Dallen Timothy <Dallen.Timothy@...> wrote:


      From: Dallen Timothy <Dallen.Timothy@...>
      Subject: RE: [borderpoint] Re: OpenStreetMaps.org - NatGeo border wars
      To: borderpoint@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Sunday, February 7, 2010, 9:19 PM



      Jan, I agree about the CIA Factbook's not being all that accurate regarding geographical ideas. It is an excellent source of much information, but not necessary the deep geography we on this list are all interested in. For example, it still suggests that St. Martin is the world's smallest land mass divided by an international boundary. We know there are others (e.g. currently Märket, and probably in the future Hans Island ), the CIA Factbook managers apparently aren't interested in these small areas, I suppose. I emailed the CIA to tell them about the errors of their geographical ways, but nobody responded, and the facts have not been changed. I emailed two years ago.

      Cheerio,

      Dallen








      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      From: borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com [mailto: borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com ] On Behalf Of jakro64
      Sent: Sunday, February 07, 2010 12:50 PM
      To: borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com
      Subject: [borderpoint] Re: OpenStreetMaps. org - NatGeo border wars




      Yes, the weak side of wikis is that most people is not professionals and the result becomes a common consensus among common people. It took very long until Wikipedia agreed that Svalbard is an integral region of Norway . But still Wikipedia uses CIA Factbook as the main source for population and country area, because it is free and regulary updated. It's a pity because CIA is not a geographical institution, they do not know very much what they are dealing with (in this field).
      Anyway I hope this map wiki will improve. When ortophoto will appear it could be more interesting than Google Earth. The idea is certainly very good.

      Jan

      --- In borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com, "Leonard" <lnadybal@.. .> wrote:
      >
      > I saw tons of errors and omissions, too. But if you look at Baarle, and the alignments of many border in Europe compared to the "sketches" Google's map has, they are better in OSM - and can be corrected by users. I wasn't thrilled by the thickness of the international border lines - when you drill down, they get too thick, but this appears to be a tool under construction. I like the water borders being shown - I just wonder if they are based on database measurements and actual treaty relationships, or just drawn. DK kind of shows someone knew what they were doing.
      >
      > Your point is well taken that interpretations may cause contributors to continually "correct" each other - i.e., how one would mark the Tibet borders may not please some user elsewhere, who might change it. Then the next guy comes along and re-changes it. How could a Palestinian ever resist??? It would give a new meaning to "border wars"...
      >
      > BTW - there is a weekly National Geographic series advertised that is said to be running on TV in the US now, apparently on that exact topic of border wars. It must be covered on the org's website.
      >
      > Len
      >
      > --- In borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com, "jakro64" <jakro64@> wrote:
      > >
      > > Len,
      > > I was taking a brief look on it this morning. I checked the borders I know well (NOSE, SEFI, NORU, EGIL, ILJO) and I found mistakes everywhere. Google Earth's borders are maybe worse, but there one has the chanse to compare with ortophoto. This is not possible in OpenStreetMap which probably, as the name says, is better on street maps, and certainly not boundaries.
      > > Anyone can contribute to any wiki, so the NORU sea border which is debated, seems on OpenStreetMap to be according the Russian view.
      > >
      > > Jan
      > >
      > > --- In borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com, "Leonard" <lnadybal@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Has this ever been mentioned here before?
      > > > It's a wiki type of map that wants to compete with Google - it's boundaries are more accurate than Google, by far... and it shows sea boundaries. Where the data came from, I haven't found out, yet, but the area around Denmark seems interesting and relatively accurate.
      > > >
      > > > An image of it is in the photos area.
      > > >
      > > > Len
      > > >
      > >
      >
    • Kevin Meynell
      ... I think the CIA Factbook is about defining distinct geographical areas, not just countries. There are a number of non-sovereign territories listed, and
      Message 2 of 26 , Feb 9, 2010
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        >My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely
        >unreliable as a serious source of geographical information. The
        >Factbook regards Svalbard as a separate country without water.

        I think the CIA Factbook is about defining distinct geographical
        areas, not just countries. There are a number of non-sovereign
        territories listed, and indeed even non-ISO 3166-1 territories.

        Presumably the CIA has an interest in defining areas of potential
        international dispute, those which may change sovereignty or become
        independent at some point in the future, and maybe even territories
        of strategic military and economic interest. I'm not suggesting any
        of this applies to Svalbard, but special conditions do currently
        apply that have an international dimension, even if Svalbard is
        considered part of Norway proper.

        Regards,

        Kevin Meynell
      • jakro64
        Kevin, your reasoning is very likely correct. I believe Soviet Union once in 1947 suggested joint Norwegian and Soviet defence forces in Svalbard. Norway
        Message 3 of 26 , Feb 10, 2010
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          Kevin,
          your reasoning is very likely correct. I believe Soviet Union once in 1947 suggested joint Norwegian and Soviet defence forces in Svalbard. Norway rejected and since then there were no military bases (NB! But not demilitarized) in the archipelago.

          Strange the Facebook does not instead use another term (e.g. "area"). Therefore it is a pity the Factbook is so popular as it is. It was not made for public use. Some time ago the listing in CIA's Factbook was used as an argument to categorize Svalbard as a dependent area.
          It was meant as an internal US database, and so should it remained...
          Most likely area and population data would be more correct if CIA would base the publication on official data from the different countries.

          Jan


          --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Meynell <knm@...> wrote:
          >
          >
          > >My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely
          > >unreliable as a serious source of geographical information. The
          > >Factbook regards Svalbard as a separate country without water.
          >
          > I think the CIA Factbook is about defining distinct geographical
          > areas, not just countries. There are a number of non-sovereign
          > territories listed, and indeed even non-ISO 3166-1 territories.
          >
          > Presumably the CIA has an interest in defining areas of potential
          > international dispute, those which may change sovereignty or become
          > independent at some point in the future, and maybe even territories
          > of strategic military and economic interest. I'm not suggesting any
          > of this applies to Svalbard, but special conditions do currently
          > apply that have an international dimension, even if Svalbard is
          > considered part of Norway proper.
          >
          > Regards,
          >
          > Kevin Meynell
          >
        • Leonard
          It would have to be very loosely based on official data from other countries. Official data is really unreliable. I recall when Bhutan s government
          Message 4 of 26 , Feb 10, 2010
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            It would have to be very loosely "based on" official data from other countries. Official data is really unreliable. I recall when Bhutan's government published population figures of 1.4 million people in the country, when just prior to its application for UN membership was prepared, all the documents showed 700,000. The country has never had more than 700,000 - 800,000 (not even with Indian military, the road building teams from Nepal and Tibetan refugees included) - and after the membership was perfected, we started seeing newspapers questioning the overblown statistics, until the government officially retreated.

            Len





            --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, "jakro64" <jakro64@...> wrote:
            >
            > Kevin,
            > your reasoning is very likely correct. I believe Soviet Union once in 1947 suggested joint Norwegian and Soviet defence forces in Svalbard. Norway rejected and since then there were no military bases (NB! But not demilitarized) in the archipelago.
            >
            > Strange the Facebook does not instead use another term (e.g. "area"). Therefore it is a pity the Factbook is so popular as it is. It was not made for public use. Some time ago the listing in CIA's Factbook was used as an argument to categorize Svalbard as a dependent area.
            > It was meant as an internal US database, and so should it remained...
            > Most likely area and population data would be more correct if CIA would base the publication on official data from the different countries.
            >
            > Jan
            >
            >
            > --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Meynell <knm@> wrote:
            > >
            > >
            > > >My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely
            > > >unreliable as a serious source of geographical information. The
            > > >Factbook regards Svalbard as a separate country without water.
            > >
            > > I think the CIA Factbook is about defining distinct geographical
            > > areas, not just countries. There are a number of non-sovereign
            > > territories listed, and indeed even non-ISO 3166-1 territories.
            > >
            > > Presumably the CIA has an interest in defining areas of potential
            > > international dispute, those which may change sovereignty or become
            > > independent at some point in the future, and maybe even territories
            > > of strategic military and economic interest. I'm not suggesting any
            > > of this applies to Svalbard, but special conditions do currently
            > > apply that have an international dimension, even if Svalbard is
            > > considered part of Norway proper.
            > >
            > > Regards,
            > >
            > > Kevin Meynell
            > >
            >
          • jakro64
            What I actually have in mind is the best available data. I believe at least that most Western countries publish reliable figures. The source should also be
            Message 5 of 26 , Feb 11, 2010
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              What I actually have in mind is the best available data. I believe at least that most Western countries publish reliable figures. The source should also be published. It is a bit odd (to put it mildly) that an intelligence agency has appeared to be one of the worlds main source on geographical data – an organisation famous for its many failures... (On the other hand; I would certainly trust the CIA on Movie data!)
              In 1990 when I visited Lithuania first time I was asked by the head of the communication department in the parliament how to operate a satellite telephone set they had got from the CIA so President Landsbergis could communicate with President Bush (Sr.) directly. Since I was a military radio officer at that time I immediately discovered the CIA had forgotten to arrange telecommunication subscription... The telephone had simply not got any telephone number.
              I am aware that some European countries count border rivers differently, but this is relatively small diversities. It would be great if we could create a GeoWiki on borders at least! Jesper has done a huge job already, but I feel this work need some continuity. If a group of trusted administrators headed the project we could reach far. In that way we would avoid Wikipedia's "Common Consensus".

              Jan

              --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, "Leonard" <lnadybal@...> wrote:
              >
              > It would have to be very loosely "based on" official data from other countries. Official data is really unreliable. I recall when Bhutan's government published population figures of 1.4 million people in the country, when just prior to its application for UN membership was prepared, all the documents showed 700,000. The country has never had more than 700,000 - 800,000 (not even with Indian military, the road building teams from Nepal and Tibetan refugees included) - and after the membership was perfected, we started seeing newspapers questioning the overblown statistics, until the government officially retreated.
              >
              > Len
              >
              >
              >
              >
              >
              > --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, "jakro64" <jakro64@> wrote:
              > >
              > > Kevin,
              > > your reasoning is very likely correct. I believe Soviet Union once in 1947 suggested joint Norwegian and Soviet defence forces in Svalbard. Norway rejected and since then there were no military bases (NB! But not demilitarized) in the archipelago.
              > >
              > > Strange the Facebook does not instead use another term (e.g. "area"). Therefore it is a pity the Factbook is so popular as it is. It was not made for public use. Some time ago the listing in CIA's Factbook was used as an argument to categorize Svalbard as a dependent area.
              > > It was meant as an internal US database, and so should it remained...
              > > Most likely area and population data would be more correct if CIA would base the publication on official data from the different countries.
              > >
              > > Jan
              > >
              > >
              > > --- In borderpoint@yahoogroups.com, Kevin Meynell <knm@> wrote:
              > > >
              > > >
              > > > >My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely
              > > > >unreliable as a serious source of geographical information. The
              > > > >Factbook regards Svalbard as a separate country without water.
              > > >
              > > > I think the CIA Factbook is about defining distinct geographical
              > > > areas, not just countries. There are a number of non-sovereign
              > > > territories listed, and indeed even non-ISO 3166-1 territories.
              > > >
              > > > Presumably the CIA has an interest in defining areas of potential
              > > > international dispute, those which may change sovereignty or become
              > > > independent at some point in the future, and maybe even territories
              > > > of strategic military and economic interest. I'm not suggesting any
              > > > of this applies to Svalbard, but special conditions do currently
              > > > apply that have an international dimension, even if Svalbard is
              > > > considered part of Norway proper.
              > > >
              > > > Regards,
              > > >
              > > > Kevin Meynell
              > > >
              > >
              >
            • Kevin Meynell
              Jan, ... I think the CIA would argue they need to independently compile the information, because official sources are not always reliable. In particular, the
              Message 6 of 26 , Feb 11, 2010
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                Jan,

                >Most likely area and population data would be more correct if CIA
                >would base the publication on official data from the different countries.

                I think the CIA would argue they need to independently compile the
                information, because official sources are not always reliable. In
                particular, the size of the military and potential conscriptable
                population, as well as number of airports and merchant ships are
                interesting, but countries may withhold such information.

                How the CIA actually compile their information though, is anyone's
                guess, and as people correctly point out, it's quite inaccurate at
                times. In the case of Norway, I'm sure they'd indeed be better off
                just looking in official publications ;-)

                My perspective on the CIA Factbook is that it's a useful starting
                place for the casual geographer to get rough indications of relative
                size, populations, economic prosperity etc.. However, the facts and
                figures always should be double-checked before being used for any serious.

                Regards,

                Kevin Meynell
              • Goyta' F. Villela Jr.
                ... Unfortunately, it is often assumed that the international intelligence agency of the world s most powerful country can t be wrong , and the Factbook is
                Message 7 of 26 , Feb 11, 2010
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                  > My perspective on the CIA Factbook is that it's a useful starting
                  > place for the casual geographer to get rough indications of
                  > relative size, populations, economic prosperity etc.. However, the
                  > facts and figures always should be double-checked before being used
                  > for any serious.


                  Unfortunately, it is often assumed that "the international intelligence agency of the world's most powerful country can't be wrong", and the Factbook is very often used for all sorts of things, from travel planning to academic works to investment reports. Being easily available and public-domain also help... :-(

                  In May 2009 I made a post here commenting about the CIA Factbook's inaccuracies. I reasoned that a good way of evaluating how accurate it is would be to see what it says about your own country. And I was appalled about the BS they wrote about Brazil:


                  ----

                  (...) I could find a lot of inaccuracies, disputable statements
                  and outdated data in the CIA Factbook entry for Brazil. For example,
                  the independence process from Portugal was not peaceful, with the
                  Portuguese battling bloodily to regain control for several years; I
                  never heard of a "severe oil spill" here (of course there are oil
                  spills, as in all countries with a coast that import or export oil,
                  but a "severe" one for me is something like the "Exxon Valdez"); the
                  highest mountain, Pico da Neblina, had its altitude revised from
                  3,014 to 2,994 m by a very precise GPS measurement a full five years
                  ago.

                  The Factbook calls the Afro-Brazilian religions "Bantu/Voodoo" when
                  they are neither; it says Brazil has four time zones, but one was
                  abolished two years ago; the list of ports mentions two unknown
                  harbors at "Guaiba" (a river estuary on a lagoon) and "Ilha Grande"
                  (a *nature reserve* near Rio!), but omits Rio de Janeiro and all
                  ports in the North and Northeast. Even the address for the American
                  embassy in Brasília would require some head-scratching by local
                  postmen, because it's completely out of the standards. That for a
                  country which is large and developed enough to supply abundant
                  reliable data. Imagine what they must have for Burkina Faso... I hope
                  their operatives don't work with those data!

                  ----


                  However, a couple of months later someone (I think it was Lowell) mentioned the U.S. State Department's Web site, which has a completely different set of data, and my opinion was completely different:


                  ----

                  (...) I didn't expect much from the State Department's page on Brazil, but I was surprised by its accuracy. I didn't find any incorrect information on it, and my only minor complaint is the somewhat undue weight they gave to some items.

                  For example, President Getúlio Vargas was historically one of the most important we ever had, and in spite of being a bloody dictator who only didn't align himself with the Nazis in WWII because the U.S. bought his support, was the great responsible for turning Brazil into a modern country. We would be a Congo today without him, rather than an emerging "BRIC" power, and in spite of his abuses, this is widely acknowledged. Yet he deserved only half a sentence in the report, and only to mention his dictatorship. The other great President who further modernized Brazil and built the new capital city of Brasília, Juscelino Kubitschek (who, contrary to Vargas, was a staunch democrat), is barely mentioned.

                  Meanwhile, the last military President, João Figueiredo, who was as stupid and asinine as anyone can be, and only hastened the country's redemocratization because he was too weak to stop it (a stronger military President would have prolonged it much further), was practically praised as an enlightened democrat - which he never was.

                  But otherwise, the report is surprisingly accurate and I was impressed.

                  ----


                  I would hope CIA's operatives work with the State Department's data... :-)


                  Regards,

                  Goytá
                • Jesper Nielsen
                  I for long have thought about developing Borderbase into Wikipedia style. A wanted feature would also be the ability to discuss each object, ie country,
                  Message 8 of 26 , Feb 19, 2010
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                    I for long have thought about developing Borderbase into Wikipedia style. A wanted feature would also be the ability to discuss each object, ie country, border, tripoint, picture, link, document, map, news story etc.

                     

                    Lack of time is an important factor, but I also feared a former BoundaryPoint member would highjack the project and flood it with long complicated texts with no CAPS or punctuation.

                     

                    If someone in the group has similar visions we may work together.

                     

                    Jesper


                    Fra: borderpoint@yahoogroups.com [mailto: borderpoint@yahoogroups.com ] På vegne af jakro64
                    Sendt: 11. februar 2010 22:59
                    Til: borderpoint@yahoogroups.com
                    Emne: [borderpoint] Re: OpenStreetMaps.org - NatGeo border wars - using "official" data

                     

                     

                    What I actually have in mind is the best available data. I believe at least that most Western countries publish reliable figures. The source should also be published. It is a bit odd (to put it mildly) that an intelligence agency has appeared to be one of the worlds main source on geographical data – an organisation famous for its many failures... (On the other hand; I would certainly trust the CIA on Movie data!)
                    In 1990 when I visited Lithuania first time I was asked by the head of the communication department in the parliament how to operate a satellite telephone set they had got from the CIA so President Landsbergis could communicate with President Bush (Sr.) directly. Since I was a military radio officer at that time I immediately discovered the CIA had forgotten to arrange telecommunication subscription. .. The telephone had simply not got any telephone number.
                    I am aware that some European countries count border rivers differently, but this is relatively small diversities. It would be great if we could create a GeoWiki on borders at least! Jesper has done a huge job already, but I feel this work need some continuity. If a group of trusted administrators headed the project we could reach far. In that way we would avoid Wikipedia's "Common Consensus".

                    Jan

                    --- In borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com, "Leonard" <lnadybal@.. .> wrote:

                    >
                    > It would have to be very loosely "based on" official data from
                    other countries. Official data is really unreliable. I recall when Bhutan's government published population figures of 1.4 million people in the country, when just prior to its application for UN membership was prepared, all the documents showed 700,000. The country has never had more than 700,000 - 800,000 (not even with Indian military, the road building teams from Nepal and Tibetan refugees included) - and after the membership was perfected, we started seeing newspapers questioning the overblown statistics, until the government officially retreated.
                    >
                    > Len
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    >
                    > --- In borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com,
                    "jakro64" <jakro64@> wrote:
                    > >
                    > > Kevin,
                    > > your reasoning is very likely correct. I believe Soviet Union once in
                    1947 suggested joint Norwegian and Soviet defence forces in Svalbard. Norway rejected and since then there were no military bases (NB! But not demilitarized) in the archipelago.
                    > >
                    > > Strange the Facebook does not instead use another term (e.g.
                    "area"). Therefore it is a pity the Factbook is so popular as it is. It was not made for public use. Some time ago the listing in CIA's Factbook was used as an argument to categorize Svalbard as a dependent area.
                    > > It was meant as an internal US database, and so should it remained...
                    > > Most likely area and population data would be more correct if CIA
                    would base the publication on official data from the different countries.
                    > >
                    > > Jan
                    > >
                    > >
                    > > --- In borderpoint@ yahoogroups. com,
                    Kevin Meynell <knm@> wrote:
                    > > >
                    > > >
                    > > > >My main argument to the CIA Factbook is that is completely
                    > > > >unreliable as a serious source of geographical information.
                    The
                    > > > >Factbook regards Svalbard as a separate country without
                    water.
                    > > >
                    > > > I think the CIA Factbook is about defining distinct geographical
                    > > > areas, not just countries. There are a number of non-sovereign
                    > > > territories listed, and indeed even non-ISO 3166-1 territories.
                    > > >
                    > > > Presumably the CIA has an interest in defining areas of
                    potential
                    > > > international dispute, those which may change sovereignty or
                    become
                    > > > independent at some point in the future, and maybe even territories
                    > > > of strategic military and economic interest. I'm not suggesting
                    any
                    > > > of this applies to Svalbard, but special conditions do currently
                    > > > apply that have an international dimension, even if Svalbard is
                    > > > considered part of Norway proper.
                    > > >
                    > > > Regards,
                    > > >
                    > > > Kevin Meynell
                    > > >
                    > >
                    >

                  • David Kendall
                    ... You can just create a wiki that s open to a select group rather than all - for something like that it d be preferable, and not just for the reasons you
                    Message 9 of 26 , Feb 19, 2010
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                      > I for long have thought about developing Borderbase into
                      > Wikipedia style. A
                      > wanted feature would also be the ability to discuss each object,
                      > ie country,
                      > border, tripoint, picture, link, document, map, news story etc.
                      >
                      >  
                      >
                      > Lack of time is an important factor, but I also feared a former
                      > BoundaryPoint member would highjack the project and flood it
                      > with long
                      > complicated texts with no CAPS or punctuation.

                      You can just create a wiki that's open to a select group rather than all - for something like that it'd be preferable, and not just for the reasons you state, but also, you don't want people who don't know anything about the subject adding to it, or worse, those with a political agenda (borders, as we know, can be contentious.)
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