[Tagging] Claiming Entities (was: Feature Proposal - RFC - Mapping disputed boundaries (Version 1.3))

Johnparis okosm at johnfreed.com
Sun Dec 9 08:52:15 UTC 2018

Thanks, Fredrik, for breaking the ice on the List of Claiming Entities and
the criteria for the list, which I think is one of the key points of my

The list is logically equivalent to the stated criterion. That is, if you
meet the criterion, you are on the list, and if you are on the list, you
meet the criterion.

We already have a de facto list. In fact, the list in my proposal exactly
matches it. It's just not written down anywhere.

What is written down right now is a stated criterion: a country is a
political entity that has an ISO two-letter code.

I think that's a little difficult to visualize. Having the written list
makes it easy for taggers to say "ah, yes, that entity meets the criterion"
or "no, that one doesn't make it."

Right now, we have (so far as I know) two entities in OSM that do not have
a two-letter ISO code but do have admin_level=2 boundaries: Kosovo and
Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic.

Why is that? It could be because DWG has not formally adopted the ISO-code
criterion. It could be because it decided that the criterion needed
changing, but it never touched the wiki. In any case, it clearly felt that
allowing these two entities to be considered countries was in keeping with
the OSMF policy on disputed territories.

And that's a problem. Because so long as there are two exceptions, the
logical question for others is, well, what's the real criterion? Why not
other exceptions?

So my proposal changes the stated criterion. The list is merely an
exemplification of the criterion. It helps greatly to have the list, I
think, because if a group of taggers think Transnistria, for example,
should be on the list, it clearly is not (you can look it up). Why? Because
it clearly doesn't meet the criterion (again, you can look it up). So the
taggers can't change the list, they have to make an argument to the
community about a new criterion. And *that* changes the list.

As noted on the proposal's discussion page, the proposed new criterion
would be: any entity that controls territory and that is recognized by at
least 10 members of the U.N. General Assembly.

The existing stated criterion (not uniformly applied) is: only political
entities listed on the ISO 3166 standard are to be considered countries.

The proposal's criterion includes Kosovo and SADR, and assigns them
four-letter codes, because they don't have two-letter ISO codes.

The existing stated criterion is the same as the proposal's, without Kosovo
and SADR, although those two currently (as of this morning) have
admin_level=2 boundaries.

I'm not sure how it's bureaucratic to say, for example, that SADR has
joined the (unwritten) list and now has admin_level=2 boundaries. It's the
natural result of a decision by DWG that SADR now qualifies whereas before
it didn't. My proposal offers a new objective criterion that conforms to
the existing OSM practice. It differs from the stated objective criterion,
which does not conform to existing OSM practice. If the criterion changes
in the future, the admin_level=2 boundaries will change in the future,
Transnistria being one possible example.

If there's a better way to phrase that, or if I should simply remove the
example, that's fine.


On Sat, Dec 8, 2018 at 5:34 PM Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> [snip]
> I am uncomfortable about your "list of claiming entities" and the
> importance it has for this proposal. I think that the fact that your
> proposal requires a well-maintained list of who is and isn't a valid
> claiming entity is a big weakness of the proposal. I am wary of
> bueraucratic statements like "if Transnistria joins the list, the
> boundary between it and Moldova would become admin_level=2". It doesn't
> sound right to me to have such things governed by a list. I can see how
> the list might be the least worst solution but I'm not in love with it.
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