[Tagging] How to overcome lack of consensus

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Mon Sep 16 16:08:39 UTC 2013


On 16.09.2013 16:41, Matthijs Melissen wrote:
> There are some OpenStreetMap features for which there is no consensus on
> how to tag them. It does not seem like consensus will arise soon. The
> lack of consensus does cause problems for the Openstreetmap community,
> though. Therefore, it would be good to have ideas or procedures on how
> to create consensus.

I think it is short-sighted to assume that the lack of consensus is
always a problem.

There are certainly many cases in which lack of consensus does not pose
a big problem. In fact, most of the examples you mentioned aren't really
problems - if half the people use shop=betting and half the people use
shop=bookmaker I just instruct my renderer to display them both and
everyone is happy. Why should I waste time in trying to get people to
reach a consensus, or force people to have endless discussions or even
votes just so that I can reduce one WHERE clause in my style sheet?

> It does not look like consensus on these issues will form naturally, as
> there many of them exist for multiple years, and I hardly see any
> initiative to do something about them. Most users seem to accept that
> there are controversies, instead of trying to come to a solution. 

Accepting that not everything needs a "solution" is the solution. Yes we
may need decisions on a few things but the secret to peace is to avoid
decisions where they are not necessary.

Even if you "find consensus", it is possible that a lot of people are
unhappy with that - worst case there will be more unhappy people than
with the "everyone to their liking" situation before.

I'm not saying that any attempt of finding consensus on anything is bad,
but you must always consider the "no consensus" option as a possible
solution. Especially in situations where the lack of consensus is
between regional communities - it is much less of a problem if e.g.
Americans should use one tag and Brits another than if mappers born in
even-numbered months use one and those born in odd-numbered months
another - but even that would not be the downfall of OSM.

> - Should we recommend (new) users to follow the wiki, actual usage
> (Taginfo), or the votings?

Actual usage has always topped everythung else until now.

> - Should we recommend data users and editors to follow the wiki, actual
> usage (Taginfo), or the votings?

Certainly actual usage.

> - Should the wiki be adapted to actual usage (Taginfo) and/or to votings?

Until now, if there was a description on the Wiki about how to tag
something but in practice people were doing something else, I put a
sentence there that went "many mappers also use ..." or "many mappers
seem to prefer ...".

> - Should we allow automatic edits in simple cases (such as bookmaker
> versus betting), or leave the process of standardisation to local
> communities?

Automatic edits are not forbidden but they must not be made by lone
cowboys who think they know what's right ("but on the Wiki it says...")
- they must be discussed on the appropriate mailing lists before they
are executed.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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