[Tagging] Tagging Digest, Vol 105, Issue 26

EthnicFood IsGreat ethnicfoodisgreat at gmail.com
Sat Jun 9 00:22:59 UTC 2018

     Date: Fri, 8 Jun 2018 08:29:25 +0200
> From: Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>
> To: "Tag discussion, strategy and related tools"
> 	<tagging at openstreetmap.org>
> Subject: Re: [Tagging] The endless debate about "landcover" as a
> 	top-level	tag
> Hi,
> it is a gut reaction by people when forced with difficult issues to call
> for strong leadership to solve them once and for all. OSM is no exception.
> On 08.06.2018 01:29, EthnicFood IsGreat wrote:
>> I wouldn't mind if all the existing tags were replaced tomorrow with a
>> brand new set of "intelligently-designed" keys.
> Designed by... a visionary leader? A board of experts? A random draw?
> And if something turns out to be designed wrongly, how will it be
> challenged?

Of course any system would have to have a means of making revisions, as 
better ways of tagging things become apparent over time.  There could 
still be innovation.

>> And I wouldn't mind if
>> these keys were enforced from now on.
> Not having an enforced set of keys and values was definitely a big part
> of OSM's success (there *were* competing projects which got stuck trying
> to define the one true set of keys and values that would work for
> everything).
> Some people say that while this may be true, the time has now come to
> get rid of the old ways that got us where we are, and change tack to
> something more conservative. This is a valid argument but I am not
> convinced; a lot of innovation is still going on with tags, and strict
> enforcement would run the risk of killing that.
>> Someone some time ago on one
>> of the OSM mailing lists summed up the current situation by stating, "It
>> seems OSM is incapable of moving forward."
> OpenStreetMap is becoming a larger group of more diverse people with
> more diverse interests, and since we don't - and don't aim to - have a
> dictator at the top, things need to be done by consensus. These people
> who take to the internet complaining about how OSM is incapable of
> moving forward usually are people who are unwilling, or unable, to
> convince the "great unwashed" their idea of "forward" is a good thing.
> So they lament the lack of leadership and complain about "gatekeeping",
> but it's really just them being unable to do the work required to
> establish consensus in a large project.
> Because that takes much more than a couple of blog posts (cf. the
> license change).
> Bye
> Frederik

I have been editing in OSM for almost four years, and I've been a member 
of this mailing list almost since then.  I read every single post.  
During that time I have never seen what I would consider a consensus 
reached on anything.  I'm not sure it's even possible. Whenever someone 
proposes a way to tag something, you can be guaranteed that people will 
bring up every possible angle and nuance concerning the meaning of the 
tag, and nobody wants to compromise. Consequently there is never a 
consensus.  Eventually people get tired of the debate, when they see 
it's a no-win situation, and the debate just dies away, until somebody 
brings it up again next year. Case in point:  the current issue of 
landuse versus landcover. There was no consensus the last time this was 
brought up and there is none now.

I've seen several tags debated more than once in four years.  I can only 
assume that each time, a different group of people get drawn in to the 
discussion, unaware that the issue has been debated before, with no 
resolution.  This cycle is doomed to repeat itself over and over, as 
long as OSM proceeds the way it is.  A waste of time and effort!

I don't see how OSM can work well when mappers are free to tag however 
they want.  Different people have diametrically opposed ideas about how 
things should be done.  For example, some people think the meaning of a 
tag in OSM should be the dictionary meaning of the word; others are okay 
with a tag word having a "special" meaning in OSM.  How is a mapper to 
decide?  There is no consensus on this issue.  Although OSM has a policy 
of "any tag you like," based on the posts I've read, it seems most 
mappers want some guidance when it comes to tagging.  I deduce this from 
all the posts I read from contributors having to do with editing and 
refining the wiki.  However, there isn't even agreement on the purpose 
of the wiki.

It seems there are basically two camps of OSM mappers---those that are 
fine with the way OSM is currently structured, and those that want more 
structure.  If OSM doesn't change, another thing is guaranteed to not 
change as well:  endless and pointless tagging debates, and never a 


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