[Tagging] How to overcome lack of consensus

Martin Koppenhoefer dieterdreist at gmail.com
Mon Sep 16 17:35:19 UTC 2013

2013/9/16 Matthijs Melissen <info at matthijsmelissen.nl>

> Dear all,
> 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.
> There are currently quite a lot of OpenStreetMap features for which there
> is no consensus on how to tag them. Some examples (but I'm sure there are
> many more):
> - What is the difference between highway=footway and highway=path?
> - What is the right scheme for tagging public transport?

there is no problem, the solution are additional tags like foot=designated.
The 2 public transport schemes can coexist AFAIK.

> - Is an unsurfaced residential road a track?

AFAIK there is consensus that a residential road is a residential road
aside from the surface qualities and that a track is something different
(and could well be paved).

> - Should we use shop=betting or shop=bookmaker?

you can use both

> - Should we use shop=fishmonger or shop=seafood?

does seafood include fish from fresh water?

> - Should we use office=estate_agent or shop=estate_agent?

an office is something that doesn't have general access by the public,
while a shop would allow you to drop by any time they are open (usually).

> - Should we use shop=tailor or craft=tailor?

you can use both, if its a craftsman. Again, a shop should be publicly
accessible, while a craft would not necessarily be accessible without

> The lack of consensus becomes clear by the fact that there are
> discrepancies between documentation on the wiki, the outcome of a voting,
> actual use (as documented on Taginfo, for example), and what editors and
> renderers support.

yes, but all of them could deal with the situations.

The lack of consensus creates several problems. These problems include the
> following.
> - Multiple parallel tagging schemes and unclear documentation creates
> confusion for newcomers.


> - Users are often advised not to follow the documentation on the wiki, and
> to look at Taginfo instead. This makes the wiki useless. It also leads to
> the fact that hardly anybody bothers to edit the wiki anymore.
> - If mappers should follow current use of tags, then it becomes very hard
> to introduce new tagging schemes, such as the office= and craft= keys.
> - Multiple tagging schemes creates problems for the implementation of data
> users (renderers, routers).
> 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. I think there
> is nothing wrong with a temporary period in which two tagging schemes are
> used in parallel, but permanent lack of consensus creates problems for the
> community.
> Rather than trying to solve the individual cases where there is a lack of
> consensus, I think we should first try to agree on a procedure on how to
> solve these issues. For example, we might try to answer the following
> questions.
> - What should be the process to create consensus?
> - Should we recommend (new) users to follow the wiki, actual usage
> (Taginfo), or the votings?
> - Should we recommend data users and editors to follow the wiki, actual
> usage (Taginfo), or the votings?
> - Should the wiki be adapted to actual usage (Taginfo) and/or to votings?
> - Should we allow automatic edits in simple cases (such as bookmaker
> versus betting), or leave the process of standardisation to local
> communities?

I would like to thank anyone responding in advance for his/her feedback.

Best regards,
Matthijs Melissen

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Martin Koppenhoefer (Dipl-Ing. Arch.)
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