[Tagging] How to overcome lack of consensus

Janko Mihelić janjko at gmail.com
Wed Sep 18 14:50:36 UTC 2013

When I think about making sense of tags, I always come back to the idea to
use our version of Wikidata, maybe OSMdata, which can be installed as an
extension of osm mediawiki.

In it we can connect meanings of various tags to wikipedia.org definitions,
and connect tags to other tags.

For example, we could say that OSMdata item with tag amenity=fastfood is a
subset of item with tag amenity=restaurant, which is a subset of item
"places where you can get food for money". That item doesn't have tags, but
can be useful to data miners who want to get places where you can buy food,
whatever they are. It can be a fishmonger, or a seafood place, or anything
that has a food=yes tag.

That way we can invent as much tags as we want, without losing data
comprehensibility for data users. A Chinese mapper could invent a tag that
cannot be described by western terms, but if he adds it to a category
"places where you can buy food", all renderers can render it with a fork
and spoon.

This solution can also be beneficial for big changes in tagging, like the
recent talk of changing power=tower to man_made=pole. If renderers were
connected to the category "poles that carry electricity wires", instead of
key-value pairs and we just added new tags to the category, no big changes
would be necessary.

We could also translate all those categories to different languages (which
wikidata supports) and that way a Chinese data consumer could write in his
language what data he wants.

The best thing is that the infrastructure is already here, we just have to
install it. So if it doesn't work out, not much time would be wasted.


2013/9/18 Martin Koppenhoefer <dieterdreist at gmail.com>

> 2013/9/18 Paul Churchley <paul at churchley.org>
>> I think that the "seafood" example is a classic case of why this will
>> always be an issue and why there can never be concensus. A "seafood shop"
>> to me, a Brit all my life, not only sells shellfish but other kinds of
>> seafood. The difference to me is that a "fishmonger" only sells raw fish
>> whereas a seafood shop would sell raw fish and also sell seafood ready to
>> eat such as the shellfish Phil describes. Who is right? Surely we both are?
>> To me, theses kinds of subtle differences in meaning are often local and it
>> is incorrect to consider one anymore correct than the other. Both tags
>> should be available and people should tag them as they see fit. If someone
>> looks at an item that is tagged as seafood and believes they are a
>> fishmonger then why not tag it as both?
> because then you would have to use a multiple value for the same key,
> which isn't very helpful if you intend your mapped data to be used by many
> data consumers. Actually it would be helpful to get good definitions in the
> wiki that describe the necessary aspects of something in order to merit a
> certain tag, but without exxagerating into specifics that would exclude
> objects that should be included. Also examples aren't helpful in tag
> definitions, but on the contrary facilitate misunderstandings. Currently we
> don't have a good description neither of fishmongers nor of seafood, and
> therefor everybody silently invents his own criteria.
> The bookmaker/betting shop example is easily resolved because one is a
>> person (bookmaker) the other is a location, usually a building. I see no
>> confusion in that case. You would expect that a betting shop would have a
>> bookmaker inside it!
> no, from what I know here in Italy (and what Phil described above) a place
> tagged shop=betting won't have a bookmaker inside, it would be a place
> (usually a branch) where you could place bets (usually / mostly on the
> outcome of sport events) for fixed rates. These rates will be transmitted
> from a central instance and won't be negotiable in the place (because there
> are no bookmakers present) and you will only be able to place bets on fix
> stuff that they tell you, you won't be able to propose a bet on something
> else.
> cheers,
> Martin
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