[Tagging] tagging single trees

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Fri Sep 10 12:34:11 BST 2010

On Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 7:13 AM, David Groom <reviews at pacific-rim.net> wrote:

> Maybe I'm missing something in this discussion, but what exactly is so
> important about the fact that the tree is standing alone that it needs to
> specifically be tagged as standing (or not standing) alone?


Maybe you missed the beginning of this painful thread.

The issue is this (and I'll try to be as neutral as possible):

* Nop points out that the wiki definition of trees says a "lone tree"
and interprets this as a prominent tree (a landmark, etc.).

* He then concludes that trees in OSM which are not prominent should
be tagged to indicate that.

* Me, Martin and others say that the wiki definition is wrong, that
people aren't using it, that it's ignored in imports, etc. and
landmark trees are the "special" ones and should be retagged.

* Nop says that this is unfair because he's already been doing the
"right thing" (ie following the WIki guidelines) and so it's everyone
else that's wrong.

* Nop then points out stats from Germany which he says support his point.

I think I understand where Nop is coming from. This doesn't appear to
be a tagging issue as much as it is about "doing the right thing". I
think he feels that he and others who followed the Wiki definition are
being punished by needing to retag their data.

The position of the rest of us is that:

1) We don't tag normal things as "normal", we tag special things as special.

2) The wiki is, more or less, supposed to reflect actual usage. (I'll
elaborate more on this point later on in the mail)

3) The definition makes common sense if it's "any tree", rather than
this complex definition of a special tree, having to do with space or
landmark, or any of that.

Now, I want to also bring to the table an extract I did this week of
all the trees in the world:


People, feel free to download and examine the trees.

To elaborate on #2:

This is a big difference between languages. In French, for example,
there's a society which determines what can be considered official
French. In English, it's quite different, especially in the US.
Dictionaries document words in their current usage. They're
"descriptive rather than prescriptive", but of course all
schoolteachers teach children to look words up in the dictionary and
use the words "properly".

That is the constant tension that exists when you define terms, and is
similarly the tension that exists in our wiki regarding definitions of
features. Are we describing tags in OSM as they're used, or explaining
how to use the tags? A bit of both, I'd say.

In this case, it's clear to me there's a disconnect between the actual
usage and the wiki definition, so it's the wiki which should change.

- Serge

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