[Tagging] Waterway river vs stream

Christoph Hormann chris_hormann at gmx.de
Sat Oct 19 16:03:25 UTC 2013

I think the whole issue should be split into two separate questions: The 
verifiability of the rule and the rule itself.

As far as verifiability is concerned - it seems the question how far an 
able person can jump is not an issue here.  As i said before i would 
interpret the rule from a practical standpoint, i.e. tag as stream if i 
generally would assume crossing this waterway with dry feet would be 
considered feasible on a hike by most people without disabilities.  Of 
course there will be borderline cases but there always are, even if a 
quantative rule exists.

The question of changing width of a waterway can also be answered from a 
practical perspective - it is sufficient for the waterway to have 
occasional points where it can be crossed to qualify.

This interpretation of course also means that the tagging of a waterway 
does not only depend on the properties of the waterway itself - a 1 
meter wide 'stream' running in a steep walled gorge 10 meter wide on 
top cannot practically be jumped across.

Which leads me to the rule itself which - as noted previously - does not 
make much sense as a mandatory top level distinction for waterways.  
But it has been around for a long time and a lot of data has been 
tagged based on it.  This in my opinion means changing the meaning of 
the existing river/stream distinction - even if there was a practically 
verifiable alternative rule - would serve no purpose except devaluing 
existing data as well as newly entered information.  The only sensible 
way to change things would be to move the distinction into a secondary 
tag (something like crossable=* for example, that would also allow 
tagging the possibility to wade through) and to re-tag all waterways 
with a uniform primary tag (natural=waterway would be an obvious choice 
although it could be useful to make the distinction natural/artificial 
waterway indeed mandatory).


Christoph Hormann

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