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

Dan S danstowell+osm at gmail.com
Sat Mar 29 14:26:03 UTC 2014

Hi -

I'm afraid the answer is "neither". OSM is a database for geodata that
is open-licensed, publicly verifiable and not short-term. This means
it's more than just a base-layer. But it also means it's not a
database for all possible geodata. We don't include holiday apartment
reviews/ratings because they're too subjective; we don't include the
local temperature because it changes too quickly.

You're going to have to live with the fact that (a) no-one wants to
render your tag until it has some momentum, while (b) rendering
certainly helps a tag get momentum, but that doesn't mean that your
tag "deserves" that benefit yet. Much better is if you start using
your tag, and then maybe the community of boat-sharing users starts to
use it too, and maybe renders a special boat-sharing map, and the
tagging develops organically. It doesn't make a big difference whether
it's been officially voted in or not.

There will always be geodata that doesn't belong in OSM, such as house
prices, tripadvisor ratings, crime rates. OSM doesn't need to ingest
this data in order to be useful; it needs to be available to get
mashed-up with this data.


2014-03-29 12:41 GMT+00:00 nounours77 <kuessemondtaeglich at gmail.com>:
> 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,
> Nounours77
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/boat_sharing
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/apartment
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