[Tagging] Ultimate list of approved keys

Tobias Knerr osm at tobias-knerr.de
Sun Jan 2 19:45:29 GMT 2011

Colin Smale wrote:
> Anarchy will
> produce "WOM" - Write Only Memory - whereby everybody adds their own
> little bit of information using their own ontology, resulting in minimal
> data quality.

We don't have an anarchy. We have an informal meritocracy, where people
influence the whole depending on their amount of contributions to the

This is valid for both mappers and developers. Someone who maps large
regions of the map has a larger influence on the tagging present in the
database than someone who adds a few POIs. And popular applications have
a huge influence on tagging.

You seem to believe that people make up their own ontologies in
isolation. But that's observably not true. Mappers /voluntarily/ use
established tags, as long as they know them and don't fundamentally
disagree with them. For obvious reasons: They want their data to be
useful, and this requires applications to understand said data.

Application developers act in a similar way. They, too, will voluntarily
try to stick to established conventions, for equally obvious reasons:
They want to use the data produced by the mappers, so they need to speak
the same "language".

This process means that once popular applications actually use some set
of tags, usage will - with few exceptions - gradually become less
varied. And this effect will only become more pronounced with the
current popularization of editor presets.

Tobias Knerr

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