# Why do most maps have diagonal (only) neighbours in their borders, coast lines, rivers, etc? What are the rules for placing/colouring pixels in genera

#### RMcD94

It seems to me pretty unlikely that most borders regularly pass exactly on the near infinitesimal point represented at the corner of two pixels.

That implies then that the rule for determining the colour of a pixel is not: in this square is there any border?

So what is the rule? If it percentage based then it would run into problems when the line does match up with the border, for example if you said that 10% of the land has to be in another country you could end up with two areas with no countries touching.

Similarly, if we imagine there are two basic pixels for a map: land and water (at low tide? at high tide? another but not relevant issue). If you look at a tile what percentage of the surface has to be land for it to be land or water if vice versa? When do you use the coast tile? When there is less than 90% land and less than 90% water? Again this could lead to a region of no border tiles, is that fine? After all if we use these rules anyone who looks at the pictures and knows the rules will instantly know that the border of a place with no pixels must be on the edge of the pixels.

Right now, if you look at a pixel? What can you say is true? Can you say there's no border, well apparently not because the borders all use diagonal neighbours. Can you say there is no water? Well no, because coasts follow the same rule and I have no idea if coasts favour land, or favour water, or randomly favour one side depending on the whims of the map maker.

If you had an AI who could examine every grid square on earth what rules would it follow? Presumably it is necessary for understanding each others maps that these rules are established and clear to everyone, otherwise new map makers would have maps misaligned or in disagreement with other maps. But I've never heard of these rules if they exist, how do people know when making maps what colour the pixel should be? Especially when making new maps, but also when mapping modern external and internal borders?

Edit:

An example of where this matters is the portrayal of microstates. Some people place a coloured tile surrounded by four border tiles, but that makes no sense. Most microstates should simply be a single border tile, or two if they lie across the pixel line, or four (in a square) if they're on the corner. They should have no internal colour.

Maps that would give them a colour would need more than 200 (maybe 700) million pixels [20000 by 10000] as there are 200 million square miles on earth and the Vatican is 0.29 square miles,

Edit 2: I tried to line up the Netherlands border from 2019 QBAM to see if there was any coherent pattern:

I spent ages adjusting the scale and moving it and this was about the best I could get. There seems to me no coherence here. You don't expect it to be pixel perfect but that there is a gap at all instead of an enclave seems really difficult to believe from the relative position of everything else. If you thought well at least I know from this map that all the territory within this area is netherlands you'd be wrong on that, but it seems to me the whole point of a border tile is for when both countries have territory in the same pixel. If something is coloured orange for the Netherlands shouldn't it be completely Dutch?

Edit 3:
This is also very important when discussing sea level rise and fall, or changes to rivers, reservoirs, lakes (Aral, Caspian, etc). At what point will the pixels in the Pacific be changed from land to water? When the islands are fully submerged?

Edit 4: An interesting way of thinking about this problem. If you had to map the earth with 1 pixel, what colour would it be? What about 2 pixels?

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#### Prince di Corsica

The reason why microstates are enlarged to get an internal colour is the same why the coast on this map is so rugged:

Utility. Maps are primarily tools to help one illustrate a landscape. In the case of this map, it's to allow sea travelers to better distinguish coastal features. In the case of maps which show enlarged microstates and Islands, it's to make them visible.

Which leads to the question: is a map that shows an island enlarged so it's visible less correct than one that doesn't show an island at all, despite it existing, because it didn't fit its scale?

#### RMcD94

The reason why microstates are enlarged to get an internal colour is the same why the coast on this map is so rugged:

Utility. Maps are primarily tools to help one illustrate a landscape. In the case of this map, it's to allow sea travelers to better distinguish coastal features. In the case of maps which show enlarged microstates and Islands, it's to make them visible.

Which leads to the question: is a map that shows an island enlarged so it's visible less correct than one that doesn't show an island at all, despite it existing, because it didn't fit its scale?
Has someone written a utility, or statement of purpose for QBAMs and the such to derive the ability to decide whether to give the Vatican 5 pixels, 1 or even 0? We're obviously not using maps for navigation or into bays? Why are some rivers and lakes included and some are not?

I've seen HRE maps that do not include every state that exists there, partially because there are too many per pixel.

As you rightly say why are some islands included but some not?

Indeed with coloured maps (even a simple four colour theorem map [though this is not maybe possible for a real world map due to enclaves and disjointed sections like French guiana]) you could simply give the Vatican a colour different from Italy and that would distinguish it using a single pixel.

It's not really about whether it's correct but if you are the reader you should be able to tell I think if given the rules of the map whether a region has an island or not. Even if it's just "definitely has an island vs doesn't have an island bigger/ than X km

Edit: For example people on this site spend so so so long on 2nd level and 3rd level administrative divisions and yet the borders of them are inaccurate if they're restrict themselves to diagonal only neighbours.

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#### Prince di Corsica

Has someone written a utility, or statement of purpose for QBAMs and the such to derive the ability to decide whether to give the Vatican 5 pixels, 1 or even 0? We're obviously not using maps for navigation or into bays? Why are some rivers and lakes included and some are not?

I've seen HRE maps that do not include every state that exists there, partially because there are too many per pixel.

As you rightly say why are some islands included but some not?

Indeed with coloured maps (even a simple four colour theorem map [though this is not maybe possible for a real world map due to enclaves and disjointed sections like French guiana]) you could simply give the Vatican a colour different from Italy and that would distinguish it using a single pixel.

It's not really about whether it's correct but if you are the reader you should be able to tell I think if given the rules of the map whether a region has an island or not. Even if it's just "definitely has an island vs doesn't have an island bigger/ than X km

Edit: For example people on this site spend so so so long on 2nd level and 3rd level administrative divisions and yet the borders of them are inaccurate if they're restrict themselves to diagonal only neighbours.
They are community efforts made for the expression of ideas, of scenarios. So there is no statement of purpose, because you're treating it like a science and treating it by the standards you set for it as a science, rather than give it the standards of utility, which, although unsaid, both explains the reasons for the imperfections you point out and makes sense considering their use portraying scenarios in an alternate history forum.

The Vatican occupies 5 pixels because it is necessary to denote its presence and the people who created and used the map in question deemed it so. If, for your purposes, it is unnecessary, then you can perfectly well take it out. Because you as a creator deemed it unnecessary. And then, if someone asks what happened to the Vatican, you can justify your choice to them.

The same for islands, if you prefer to have Polynesia not be shown, and that is somehow relevant enough to make people wonder, then you can just easily explain your reasoning.

To put it shortly: this is overthinking it

#### RMcD94

They are community efforts made for the expression of ideas, of scenarios. So there is no statement of purpose, because you're treating it like a science and treating it by the standards you set for it as a science, rather than give it the standards of utility, which, although unsaid, both explains the reasons for the imperfections you point out and makes sense considering their use portraying scenarios in an alternate history forum.

The Vatican occupies 5 pixels because it is necessary to denote its presence and the people who created and used the map in question deemed it so. If, for your purposes, it is unnecessary, then you can perfectly well take it out. Because you as a creator deemed it unnecessary. And then, if someone asks what happened to the Vatican, you can justify your choice to them.

The same for islands, if you prefer to have Polynesia not be shown, and that is somehow relevant enough to make people wonder, then you can just easily explain your reasoning.

To put it shortly: this is overthinking it
You act as if this is not a cooperative community where people work together to create maps. If there's no clear purpose then every patch will be done under different rules and the whole will be incoherent.

If I go and contribute to the QBAM and I don't include the Vatican people may not notice and go on to use the map in their own purposes until after thousands of hours they notice the mistake when it's suddenly vital.

To describe it as overthinking is to downplay the millions of hours of work people on this forum have contributed. It also suggests that there is no room for improvement as if this process is perfect and does not lead to duplication of effort

As I said you can denote the Vatican with 1 pixel and it still conveys all the information.

If there's no statement of purpose it seems like that instead of standards of utility like you suggest it seems like people just do whatever the first guy to make a map on this forum did. That's the importance of thinking. Some guy 20 years ago was making a map and chose to use 5 pixels instead of 1 on a whim and since then so has everyone. The same guy made inland waters and oceanic waters the same colour or unpopulated territory and unclaimed territory the same colour.

How about the boxes around islands in the ocean? Who started that idea? Who decided they should not have diagonal pixels when every other use of pixels does? Just the first guy to do it, that's not an argument from utility. Why are you allowed to show islands as a single pixel instead of 5? If the Vatican was on an island would it be 5 pixels or 1? Why?

If I want to make a map I want to do it in the ways that most people want. I want to contribute and help everyone. To do that I should follow the community standards, otherwise you're just wasting your time making a map no one will use because the Vatican is not on it. To make maps that help the most people and contribute the most utility you should follow the rules, so what are the rules?

There's no reason to decry the idea of doing things better or more efficient because of anti-intellectualism and the horror that someone would spend any effort on "thinking".

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#### Prince di Corsica

You act as if this is not a cooperative community where people work together to create maps. If there's no clear purpose then every patch will be done under different rules and the whole will be incoherent.

If I go and contribute to the QBAM and I don't include the Vatican people may not notice and go on to use the map in their own purposes until after thousands of hours they notice the mistake when it's suddenly vital.

To describe it as overthinking is to downplay the millions of hours of work people on this forum have contributed. It also suggests that there is no room for improvement as if this process is perfect and does not lead to duplication of effort

As I said you can denote the Vatican with 1 pixel and it still conveys all the information.

If there's no statement of purpose it seems like that instead of standards of utility like you suggest it seems like people just do whatever the first guy to make a map on this forum did. That's the importance of thinking. Some guy 20 years ago was making a map and chose to use 5 pixels instead of 1 on a whim and since then so has everyone. The same guy made inland waters and oceanic waters the same colour or unpopulated territory and unclaimed territory the same colour.

How about the boxes around islands in the ocean? Who started that idea? Who decided they should not have diagonal pixels when every other use of pixels does? Just the first guy to do it, that's not an argument from utility. Why are you allowed to show islands as a single pixel instead of 5? If the Vatican was on an island would it be 5 pixels or 1? Why?

If I want to make a map I want to do it in the ways that most people want. I want to contribute and help everyone. To do that I should follow the community standards, otherwise you're just wasting your time making a map no one will use because the Vatican is not on it. To make maps that help the most people and contribute the most utility you should follow the rules, so what are the rules?

There's no reason to decry the idea of doing things better or more efficient because of anti-intellectualism and the horror that someone would spend any effort on "thinking".
You're confusing cooperative efforts with organised efforts. If you're looking for a Central Committee to give you a canonical answer for everything that was made in the maps, you won't get one, on virtue of it not existing. And, obviously, there is no canon of the work. As you said, every single adjustment made to the maps was by people, much like you, who said: 'oh this is incorrect' or 'oh I dislike this mode of portraying things' and went ahead and changed them. Some of them, the people doing the maps mostly agreed with and mostly became the norm, while others people disliked and failed to become the norm. There is no leadership to tell you what's right or wrong, and there's not even a citizen body to vote on it. There's only people using one map or the other in conformity with their personal preferences.

So if you want to portray the Vatican and small islands with a pixel, go for it! People who agree with you will use your map, people who don't won't. Maybe two map systems will exist based on each of those preferences, or maybe one of the two becomes the next norm. In the end, it doesn't matter. Nobody is going to fine you for that.

But do explain, maybe I'm not getting your point, what solution do you propose for this?

#### RMcD94

Something else I remembered is that because the first guy on this forum happened to use a random projection they that made life harder for every single person who used this stuff. It's almost impossible to convert QBAM or WorldA or any of the other maps to another projection. If they had spent 10 minutes discussing it together they would have probably gone with an equirectangular projection which would have meant so many users of this forum would have had a much easier time producing content for everyone to use. After all local maps are usually equirectangular, and almost all datasets use equirectangular coordinate systems. So if you want to map rivers or water sheds or topography its way easier.

Some of them, the people doing the maps mostly agreed with and mostly became the norm
Right so what is the norm? If I'm making a map and want to adhere to the norm what is it?

Nobody is going to fine you for that.
Wanting to contribute in the optimal way isn't out of a desire to avoid punishment...

But do explain, maybe I'm not getting your point, what solution do you propose for this?
Write down the norms? Write down best practices for making a map? Cooperate with the community to hold votes on what people's preferences are

Should the ocean be blue or transparent?
Should the coast be the same colour as national borders?
Should lakes and rivers be on the default map? Caspian? Great Lakes?
What level of administrative division is most sought after?
Do you prefer people focus on creating historical versions of the map or a focus on detail of one version? That is should I make 1900, 1800 and 2000. Or just make 2000 with states and counties?
What years do people want?
What resolution do people prefer?
QBAM is centred on London? Do people even want that? Perhaps the forum is 80% weebs and 20% aussies and they want a Pacific centred map.
These days what projection do people prefer? Do most people use QBAM and WorldA just because it's there? And already famous? What colour scheme do they like? Do they prefer most maps not to be coloured?
Do they prefer maps with borders or with no borders (just colours?)
Do they prefer maps with coasts or not coasts?

Do people want PNG or SVG images? Or do they want people to share the layers from their photo editors?

Obviously one norm is single pixel borders, so that should be written down in a "Guidelines to Contributing to this Forum", but how do I choose where the diagonal goes? When do I not do a right angle instead?

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#### deleonism

None of these questions you're asking have any real universal answers. Mapmaking is an art as much as, if not more than, it is a science, so they are really all up to you and your personal aesthetic sensibilities. If you're contributing to a collaborative resource, then by all means, please ask these sorts of stylistic questions, but for maps you're making for fun or for one of your own projects, please don't think you have to meet some kind of nonexistent community standard.

Other things:
- People use a lot of diagonal pixel lines because they look good, plain and simple; when the corner is fully rendered, it's usually to indicate or exaggerate a feature of the curve.
- Border lines and coastlines are ambiguous and mostly aesthetic. You're welcome to make a map where they're only drawn on pixels that are really truly split down the middle between land and water or between one country and another, but it's probably not going to look very good.
- Human error exists.
- You don't have to use the Worlda or the QBAM; there are several basemaps on this very forum that use different projections, including equirectangular, Equal Earth, and I believe some kind of actual Kavrayskiy projection rather than the pseudo-Kavrayskiy used by the QBAM. You can also just like, cobble together your own regional basemap if you want, it's what I do half the time.
- The QBAM is centered around Florence, actually, something like 11°E so that the farthest east tip of Russia doesn't cross the edge of the map. That said, Pacific-centered Worldas (and I think QBAMS) do exist, if you look for them.

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