[Tagging] Is there a way to make tags better?

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Mar 16 07:12:33 UTC 2017


   there have been many plans/concepts in the past that tried to solve
the same problems. I have lost track of the different endeavours and
what they wanted to achieve and why they didn't. I remember a talk by
David Earl about something tagging-related at a SOTM conference years
ago; I remember some work being done by Stefan Keller at Rapperswil, and
also quite recently someone did a little "big data" stuff with tags and
tried to automatically find out "if you tag this you might also want to
use these tags" rules or so. You should definitely also google for
"Harry Wood Community Smoothness" and view that 2009 talk of his.

On 16.03.2017 01:57, Yuri Astrakhan wrote:
> == Suggestions ==
> In addition to presets, I think there should be an suggester service.
> JOSM, iD and other programs can use it 

Precursors of such a suggester service are probably the presets offered
by all big editors, and in the case of JOSM also the validator.

Currently there's not even a database of presets or validation rules
shared by all editors. Maybe that could be a first step (having a
"preset service" and a "validation service", but it would need to
provide some kind of offline capability too for editors that can't rely
working internet connection while being used).

Great power lies in creating and maintaining these services because you
can essentially control what tags are used "in the wild". If the
introduction of new tags is made more complicated, the power of the
maintainers will be even greater. This is something that we, as a
community, should think about - whom do we want to have this power?

> We may even want to use machine learning techniques to
> make suggestions.

I am critical of that because it would remove the community's ability to
check the algorithms. Currently I can look at the code of an editor and
discern in which situations it will offer which choices to the user, and
modify that if necessary. Once machine learning is employed, this will
be more difficult, and editors could start suggesting stuff that we
don't even want them to.

> == Precise Meaning ==
> Whenever someone enters a tag=value pair, they have a very specific
> meaning in mind. If that meaning is misunderstood by other mappers or
> data consumers, that tag causes more damage than no tag

I'm not sure that (a) this is true and (b) the mapper must make more of
an effort to be understood - maybe it is the consumer who must make more
of an effort to understand?

> they should be shown a popup 

There's a long-going and mostly humorous feud between JOSM-leaning
people ("let's show a popup") and ID-leaning people ("gah! popups ruin
the UX").

> == Cleanup suggestions ==
> There should be a way for community to suggest tag replacements. For
> example, while browsing taginfo, I saw religion=catholic and religion=
> católico, and I can suggest that it should be replaced with
> religion=christian & denomination=catholic.  Afterwards, a site
> like MapRoulette could allow users to quickly check that replacements
> actually makes sense for each object, and accept or reject it.

This is a very contentious topic even if you leave religion out of it.
There's a ton of things that can go wrong. In your example, one would
have to ensure that only people who understand religion in the
particular country will participate in the verification (plus there will
be "helpful" people trying to automate the process). At DWG we have to
deal with such well-meaning but erroneous mass edits all the time. For
example (that was years ago), someone in Germany tried to change all
"denomination=evangelical" to "denomination=protestant" in Germany
because - that was his reasoning - the German term for "protestant" is
"evangelisch" leading to many mappers mis-mapping a protestant church as
"evangelical". But of course some of them were "evangelical" on purpose.

Even today, some people are very eager to "deprecate" old tags in favour
of something new they think should be used instead. Giving them a
streamlined process to get rid of "old" tags sounds like inviting trouble.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

More information about the Tagging mailing list