[Tagging] What's a power=station?

Liz edodd at billiau.net
Wed Jan 20 08:36:48 GMT 2010

On Wed, 20 Jan 2010, Matthias Julius wrote:

> I would not put too much meaning into tag values.  There will always
> be potential for misunderstanding.  We are from too many backgrounds.
> It is more important that those tags are clearly defined.  And since
> the editors support presets the actual tag values are becoming less
> important.

> Sometimes I am thinking that those values should just be numbers like
> object=16524 for a power plant.  Then, all the semantics would be
> defined in the wiki and every local team can define their own
> specialities.  There would be no more disputes over tag values.
> ;-)
I considered this philosophical problem as I rode to work this morning. I see 
two problems. One is there is now quick check for typos. So object=16524 for 
power plant, and object=16254 for love_hotel and we're going to have some 
interesting errors and some people getting more spark in their love life than 
The other is that the system started with "natural English language" for tag 
values. I haven't seen it specified on the wiki, but that is the way tags have 
been created. 
The Dutch cafe example is parallel to the motel / love_hotel example from 
Brazil and other countries. Sometimes a term has quite different uses in 
different cultures, and these are traps for all travellers. The question of 
whether the same tag has the same meaning wherever it is or whether meaning 
has to be gained from context, as we do now with traditional paper based maps, 
remains in discussion.

> > 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.
> Please, don't change the meaning of existing tags unless it is really,
> really necessary.  Introduce new tags if you must.  At least this will
> make it possible to change both new and old in parallel.  Then, after
> a (long) while you can deprecate the old ones.
Agreed, this will be a solution

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