[Tagging] How to overcome lack of consensus

David Earl david at frankieandshadow.com
Thu Sep 19 14:13:53 UTC 2013

On 19/09/2013 14:45, tagging-request at openstreetmap.org wrote:
> IMHO the great invention of OSM is that it isn't based on an ontology but
> on free tagging. The world is too complex (and dynamic) to be entirely
> described by an ontology. It seems appealing to try though, I admit, but it
> will always result in flattening complexity (and therefor detail and small
> but fine distinctions).

If you can't actually describe the subtleties to other people in a way 
that makes sense to them, then you have failed to do what you set out to 
do by introducing the difference in the first place, because it is 
simply incomprehensible.

But if you can describe it to people, then with a suitable structure, I 
am sure it is possible to describe it to machines as well, so that they 
can do something useful with it even if they haven't been programmed to 
every last nuance. Not least, to offer it on menus as a possibility 
(together with a human readable description or pointer thereto), and to 
render it as if it were something very similar if that makes sense to 
the person who introduced it.

The key thing is the knowledge is centralised and that it can offer some 
upward compatibility in the face of rapid and anarchic change.

Can I suggest people look at by TagCentral proposal from SOTM10, slides 
and video linked from here:
where I thought about this in quite some detail.


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