[Tagging] Relations (was directions)

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Wed Aug 10 04:36:10 BST 2011

On Tue, Aug 9, 2011 at 7:13 PM, Simone Saviolo <simone.saviolo at gmail.com> wrote:

> if we make a system that any newcomer can
> use completely without even having to dwelve into the details, then we're
> basically dumbing it down and limiting its potential.

I think we're venturing a bit off topic, but you're keying on to a
difference in how various people see the project, and while I don't
want to venture too far into navel gazing, seeing this difference
really helps underly the differences between how we approach tagging,
and other aspects of the project.

First, I think it's important to remember that I don't think anyone is
advocating removing any existing object types or object
classifications, but rather providing feedback to the tagging process
about how best to represent something in OSM.

In other words, no one's talking about taking relations away, but
putting the breaks on a bit where it comes to making new relation

Now onto your concern about "dumbing down" OSM.

Honestly, I don't like that term, because it implies that simple =
dumb. That's just not true.

When I first got into Linux, I had to compile a new kernel when I got
new hardware, and if I changed monitors, I had to edit the X config
myself by hand. Now I don't do that. I'm not any dumber.

In his recent talk, Andy Allen presented an excellent case for why we
need more mappers, and the value of a simple, clean interface for


When I've taught mappers, I've come to the conclusion that keeping
things simple is the best way to encourage more mappers to map, and
more mappers means more accuracy and more detail.

But it's not just entirely new mappers that we're talking about, but
experienced mappers too. I clean up mistakes from experienced mappers
almost as often as new mappers! Tools like Potlatch 2 which provide
simple interfaces to the data don't "dumb down" the results, they
actually seem to increase the quality of the data!

I think it's extremely important to teach people the fundamentals of
OSM. I encourage users to learn how the system is constructed, but
that doesn't mean we need to ignore the tenets of good design. Good
design is simple. A translation of a famous Antoine de Exubery

   "A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is
nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away."

- Serge

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