[Tagging] What's a power=station?

Steve Bennett stevagewp at gmail.com
Tue Jan 19 12:27:11 GMT 2010

On Tue, Jan 19, 2010 at 5:51 PM, Ulf Lamping <ulf.lamping at googlemail.com> wrote:
> I'm not saying this is a good thing, but:
> a) It doesn't really matter for most mappers.
> b) It doesn't really matter for almost anyone else ;-)

Why not? We have a situation where two tags are being used pretty
indisciminately because people haven't understood their flawed
definitions. Sure, it's only two tags, but their uses are in the

> c) The definitions of these tags were done in ~december 2007 probably by
> germans and the native english speakers didn't even care to correct
> these definitions till now. Since december 2007 it doesn't seemed to
> matter for most people how the actual wording is.

Because no one noticed. Because it's hard to notice. That's exactly
the kind of thing I'm trying to fix: raising the visibility of tags
and their usage, so we can spot these problems earlier. And we haven't
even got to power=cable, which you objected to me making visible on
the map features page...

> d) I don't think it's a good idea to change a tag description two years
> after it was documented, because the wording is "slightly" wrong for
> some parts of the english speaking world.

The wording is *completely* wrong for the *entire* english speaking world.

Definition of power=generator: "power station"
Definition of power=station: "substation"
Definition of power=sub_station: "transformer"

I don't think you can get much wronger than that. And it doesn't
appear to be a US english vs other english problem. Although "power
station" (to mean power=generator) is more common outside the US, I
don't think they use the term there to mean "power=sub_station" (as
implied). Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

> Because doing so is an
> annoyance for anyone involved and the wording will *always* be slightly
> wrong for someone.

I understand what you're saying, and you're right in many instances.
But there's a big difference between this siutuation, and say,
"service=alley" (we say "laneway" here, but we can live with "alley"),
or "rcn" (we don't have a regional cycling network, but we can
understand what it means and use it appropriately). This situation is
wrong for everyone (possible exception of Germans - but even then, a
German term would be vastly preferable to an exactly incorrect English
term), and not "slightly" wrong at all. It's so bad that when you see
"power=sub_station" you actually have no idea what the tagger meant.
Did they mean a "substation" or a "sub_station"? Did the mapper who
used "power=station" mean a "power station" or a "power=generator"?

> Not to mention that a lot of people won't
> notice/ignore any changes here, as these definitions are "old enough" in
> OSM terms.

Which people are you talking about? Newcomers? Old timers?

> My approach: Stick to the wiki definitions even if you don't
> like it and go on mapping :-)

That response isn't even logical. It's as though I complained to the
council that people keep ignoring the parking signs, and your answer
is "My approach: Keep obeying the parking signs." By all means, don't
help find a solution (there are plenty of bigger fish to fry, after
all), but advising other people to ignore the problem is...unhelpful.

> e) Unless someone develops a nice "open power distribution map", this
> discussion is pretty much pointless and will continue or "flare up
> again" endlessly, regardless of what we'll end up with it now. So if you
> are really interested in fixing this "power wording problem", go and
> develop such a map. This will motivate the mappers much more to "do it
> right" than to conform to whatever rules set/changed in the wiki.

Renderers already render power=* tags. True, they probably don't
distinguish much between the different kinds yet, but it's very

Anyway, let's talk solutions. The obvious problem is that although the
status quo is bad, changing is difficult. If we spontaneously redefine
"power=station", we will a) change the meaning of existing tags, and
b) cause confusion amongst people who know the current tags. But at
least we eventually end up at a situation which makes sense and won't
cause so much mistagging.

>This will motivate the mappers much more to "do it
> right" than to conform to whatever rules set/changed in the wiki.

So, you essentially say it's easier to keep drilling these bad
definitions into people's heads, now and forever, than to fix them.
Are you saying also that we should never change the definitions of any


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