[Tagging] The Tagging philosophy (was the OSM philosophy)

Serge Wroclawski emacsen at gmail.com
Mon Aug 27 13:26:58 BST 2012

On Sun, Aug 26, 2012 at 4:27 PM, Ilari Kajaste <ilari.kajaste at iki.fi> wrote:
> On 26 August 2012 10:42, Markus Lindholm <markus.lindholm at gmail.com> wrote:

> For nothing, and no one. Which also means: for anything, everything and all.

While I agree with this sentiment, and love OSM's flexibility, I feel
there's one place where this bites us in the read end, and I'd like to
bring it out in the open.

The rest of this post will be an expansion of my point, but tl;dr "We
need to make tagging schemes which are easy to understand and easy to
use for mappers and tool makers."

> Let the renderers, routers and whatnot determine how they
> can best utilize the data.

There's a lot of interest in this group for making more accuracy and
more detail, but sometimes that above sentiment gets turned around and
in some people's minds, becomes "Renderers and routers must support
whatever tagging scheme we come up with."

And sometimes the tagging schemes people come up with are very
complex. Complex tagging schemes cause two problems:

First, they turn off new mappers. It's easy to draw a line and tag it
highway=residential, but it's much harder to draw a line and then tag
it highway:material:gravel:grade = 1.5cm.

The result is that these complex schemes don't get adopted by either
mappers or tools (editors or renderers).

Sometimes this causes frustration in the community by tagging people
who want to see more adoption by the toolmakers. But no renderer or
editor is required to adopt anything on the wiki, and the reality is
that if a tagging scheme makes it into Potlatch and Josm, that is what
mappers will do.

Similarly, as a tool writer, I work hard to support as many tagging
schemes as I can, but if they become complex (using complex relations
or compound keys) then I'm less likely to support it in my tool.

So I think the answer is "We don't tag to the renderer, but when we
come up with a new scheme, keep new mappers and tool makers in mind."

- Serge

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