OpenBeta vs MountainProject vs theCrag
OpenBeta is a new climbing platform, focused completely on empowering the community with open license climbing betas and open source tools.
Hey there! Do you want to share climbing route beta with the community? If so, you’re probably trying to decide which platform to contribute to. I thought I'd put together a side-by-side comparison to offer an overview.
 Open source: source code is freely available with a license that permits modification and re-sharing.
 Content license: license that defines what users may and may not do with the crowd-sourced content.
 CC NC-SA
 Work-in-progress (Estimated completion: summer 2022)
 Users can suggest edits but changes must be approved by admins.
Why should I consider OpenBeta over the alternatives?
First of all, I have to say, there would not be climbing betas online today without projects like TheCrag and MountainProject. I feel grateful for everything they already contributed, and would like to acknowledge the amazing work they have done for the community.
If you’re looking for a matured platform with a large user base and good coverage of crags in the USA and around the world, then theCrag and MountainProject might be suitable for you. MountainProject has complete coverage of the USA and some international destinations. TheCrag, on the other hand, amasses an impressive database of over one million climbs on five continents.
But, if community empowerment and fairness are important to you OpenBeta might be the right platform for you. I started OpenBeta because I was frustrated with the state of existing crowd-sourcing platforms that own and benefit from the free and generous contributions from climbers.
If you think climbing route betas, crag GPS coordinates, climb names, grades and FA names, etc., are building blocks of public knowledge that shouldn’t be owned by private companies, and if you want to change the status quo, I hope you will consider OpenBeta.
What does OpenBeta do better?
OpenBeta is the new kid on the block. While it may appear we’re catching up with other platforms, the main difference between us and others is that OpenBeta is 100% open source.
At our core we put climbers’ interests first and foremost. Inspired by OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia, we publish the crowd-sourced data files of climbing routes under the Creative Commons Public Domain (CC0) license. This license ensures that the knowledge of this great outdoor experience belongs to the community and continues to be accessible without legal restrictions.
We follow the footsteps of WordPress and Linux by using a strong copyleft license (AGPL) to ensure your code contributions remain openly available to everyone.
We’re also actively working on a wiki app with an improved search engine that allows you to find climbs by first ascensionist names.
If you uncover a bug or have ideas for a killer feature, please create an issue report. Of course, we welcome all bug fixes and GitHub pull requests.
What is an open license?
Broadly speaking, an open license is one which grants permission to access, re-use and redistribute a work with few or no restrictions. [Source: The Open Knowledge Foundation]
Why does having an open license matter when I can already read everything for free on the internet?
While other climbing websites don't charge a fee to read the crowd-sourced betas, they do place restrictions on the way you can utilize beta from contributors. Their Terms and Conditions forbid contributors and users from using the betas outside of their platform, even if the information itself may not be copyrightable. Examples of such innovative uses are making a climbing weather app or using the climbing data to train a prediction model in your Data Science class.
By adopting well-known and open licenses such as those published by the Creative Commons, we strive to make it easier for community members to improve and build on each other’s work.
One Last Thing You Should Know
OpenBeta is an all-volunteered 501c3 nonprofit collective. We come together to build open source tools to enable new and innovative uses of data about rock climbing routes. We believe open access to climbing data in the digital age is as important as open access to public lands.
Hopefully this guide was useful in providing an overview of OpenBeta as compared with MountainProject and theCrag.
If you love climbing as much as we do, and want to pass on climbing route betas to the community, please consider joining our effort. You can help us figure out the next steps.
We welcome all kinds of contributions: sharing new route information, identifying inaccuracies, writing the code, reporting bugs, designing the website, creating documentation or any other activities that help develop this project further. Get started by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or by chatting with our volunteers on Discord.