[Tagging] Reviving the conditions debate: first summary

martinq osm-martinq at fantasymail.de
Sun Jun 17 22:59:11 BST 2012

> * some people argued that conditions syntax should look similar to
human language, however, other people argued that this would trick
mappers into thinking that human language can be used without paying
attention to syntax, and others pointed out that that a parser that has
to be liberal about what he accepts cannot spot errors anymore

Human language -> no
My proposal you are referring to was mainly to directly tag the 
(simplified!) language posted on the signs - not full human language.

But meanwhile I changed my mind about my own idea. I would propose a new 
approach regarding human language:

- We should offer a way to tag what they see on the signs, but not 
intended to be understood by machines. This way we can keep mappers 
happy that do not want to learn a technical language (normal form, 
logical transformations, etc.) for expressing conditions, for example by 
offering a tagging schema like:

maxspeed:posted = 80 except HGV more than 10m long
maxspeed:posted:DE = 80 ausgenommen LKWs mit mehr als 10m Länge

It's not thought through, e.g. what happens if there are multiple 
additional signs with conditions.

It also acts as kind of "source" information - or could be used by 
navigation software to display the condition as human readable text.

And it allows other mappers to identify errors (inconsistencies) in the 

- The tagging itself should follow stricter rules. Validators or other 
tools may be used to spot "untranslated" information of point 1) and 
mappers familiar with the condition tagging can transform it into the 
machine friendly form.
Here we should continue improving the proposal(s) on the wiki.

> * most people argued that tagging should be human-readable

I would interpret this as: Understandable without wiki lookup for the 
majority of cases (=mostly intuitive).

 > * most people agreed that proposal should make the common case easily 
taggable for humans, however, some people said that editor support is 
required anyway and therefore the readability for humans does not really 

I think we should distinguish between writing conditions and reading 

-> Writing - editor support -> Yes, agree (see also below)

-> But for reading, editor support is more tricky, because translating 
it back into human readable "language form" is in principle possible, 
but ambiguous (several posted text variants can result in the same tagging).

Thus I would strongly prefer that the tags itself are understandable - 
see above.

> I would also like to ask people not to blindly start new proposals,
> because otherwise we'll inevitably end up with hundreds of proposals
> and no conclusion at all.

I will cancel my proposal due lack of support and missing benefit (what 
I wanted to achieve - and what was intended to be the benefit - does not 
work so far). For me it makes more sense now to:

1) Provide a option to document posted conditions, but not trying to 
make it machine readable (in the language of the mapper)

2) Provide editor support (with a parser, maybe based on the work I have 
done so far on the proposal) to allow "semi-automatic" translation of 
posted information into conditions directly in the editor (helping 
people to learn conditions). This can be provided for different 
languages (e.g. also in German, French...), maybe also local variants, 
because text conditions posted on signs have a typical structure

3) Use a machine friendly (=stricter rules) - but human readable tagging 
for the conditions

4) Think about a tool that spots missing translations of 1)

My favourite is clearly the "extended conditions" proposal. But it needs 
- as stated - some further development from an idea to a complete 
proposal - but I will do that directly in the wiki.


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