[Tagging] What is OSM: a base layer for individual maps, or a fully featured geobased information system?

nounours77 kuessemondtaeglich at gmail.com
Sat Mar 29 12:41:05 UTC 2014

Hi there,

Not sure if this is the right place for this philosophical question. But starting from the comment of Brycenesbitt to my apartment-proposal "I feel this will become yet another piece of unmaintanable data in OSM." and several comments I got on my boat_sharing proposal "just use it, don't go through proposal process" I think it's a important question. What do we define tags for?

A) OSM is just a base layer
We tag just for general features of the landscape, and maybe roads. This will make a beautiful map, which then can be used as a base layer, e.g. for a holiday-apartment renting agency, which than can render all there apartments from their own private database as an overlay on OSM base layer.
=> this will mean, "we" do not have to maintain the apartment info, nor has the provider to bother with OSM. This is much easier. But means that the information is only avaible on the agencies website, and thus there will be million places I have to look for the info.

B) OSM as a fully featured geobased information system
We see of OSM a a standalone, fully featured geobased information system. I can take the map in my pocket (like on the iPhone App "PocketEarth", or "OsmAnd"), and will everywhere have any kind of information. I'm driving through a village, I like it, and I want to stay. So, where are the next nice holiday-apartments around me?
Of course, this only works, if the data is maintained and current. But: I want OSM to get important enough that every service provider offering a service to a wide enough public is just forced in his own interest to publish it's data on OSM and keep it current.

As a conclusion for us this means: Yes, we need a defined tagging (accepted proposal) for tourism=apartment, ifnot, never ever all service providers will put their apartment on OSM. And never the Apps like PocketEarth or OsmAnd will support to render it.
I was advised by several persons that I should just use "tourism=boat_sharing", and not bother about going through a proposal and voting process. BUT: I asked OsmAnd to render the tag, and the answer was - quite understandable: "Only officially supported tags will be rendered". There we are again with the well know snake which bites it's tail: No data - no rendering. No rendering, nobody collects data or publishes it on OSM.
My answer to this would be: make a reasonable, understandable, clear and clean tagging scheme, discuss it, vote it, document it. If done properly, the data will come and the rendering as well.

Please, what is your vision of OSM? A or B?

If A, I will stop bothering about tourism=apartment, amenity=boat_sharing, or amenity=nursery, since this are all "service informations" you can argue you can find somewhere else ...
But if it's B), then we need all that to make OSM the best, most complete and inevitable geobased information system.

Thanks for your comments, and yes, I reopened the boat_sharing proposal for voting, just in case somebody wants to support me!!!

Have a nice week-end,



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