[OSM-dev] Masts vs Towers yet again (was Re: carto 0.16.0 released)

Andy Townsend ajt1047 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 15 08:15:21 UTC 2016

On 15/04/2016 08:24, Oleksiy Muzalyev wrote:
> Google search of "radio mast", "radio tower", "television mast", 
> "television tower", etc. gives each millions of results with similar 
> images. It seems that the words "mast" and "tower" are 
> interchangeable. The article in English Wikipedia is called: "Radio 
> masts and towers": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_masts_and_towers

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, the English* word "mast" 
(as in "radio mast") is an adaptation of "mast" as in "the big pointy 
thing on ships that you hang the sails off".  It's recent - there have 
only been radio masts for 100 years or so.

There is a sense (noted from an engineering point of view in your 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radio_masts_and_towers) that a "mast" is 
not self-supporting but that a "tower" is, but there's certainly popular 
crossover usage of the two terms - see for example 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emley_Moor_transmitting_station.  I drive 
past that every week, and if asked what it was called would probably say 
"Emley Moor mast" but if asked whether it was a mast or a tower would 
probably say "tower".  Also a ship's mast is usually self-supporting.

Also, please don't say things like "... and it is not rendered on the 
OSM map at all".  What you mean is "not rendered on one of the layers on 
the osm.org site, which is widely used by OSM mappers but hardly at all 
by anyone else".  Most people see OSM data either in an app on their 
phone, on a third-party website for e.g. a pizza company, or on a board 
outside the supermarket saying where other local facilities are.  None 
of these show what you call "the OSM map".

It'd be nice if OSM could decide what the difference between a mast, a 
tower and a communications tower was and start mapping accordingly.  The 
nearest thing to a sane discussion on this was on the OSM Carto map 
style's  github rather than somewhere like the tagging list; 
is positively unhelpful.  However it's not the end of the world - if 
people map "big pointy thing" using one of any number of OSM tags then 
most maps using OSM data are free to display "big pointy thing" any way 
they like, if they feel it's appropriate.



* I'm using British (actually English) English throughout here. Other 
variants are available.

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