[Tagging] Multiple tags for one purpose

Warin 61sundowner at gmail.com
Sun Aug 25 05:20:05 UTC 2019

On 25/08/19 15:02, Joseph Eisenberg wrote:
> Getting back to the original example, phone=* was proposed first and
> voted on in 1/2008 - see
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/Phone - the tag
> was rejected. Some people at the time did not think that OSM should
> contain phone numbers, others preferred something like contact:phone.
> However, starting in mid-2008 the tag started to be used anyway.
> I don't think there was every a proposal from contact:phone. It
> started being used in mid-2009, but was never more popular than
> phone=* (except for 2 months in 2008, after a small import or switch
> of tags to contact:phone), according to
> https://taghistory.raifer.tech.
> Over the past 12 months (8-2018 to 8-2019), contact:phone=* has
> increased by 50k from 260k to 310k, while phone=* increased by 200k,
> from 1200k to 1400k. So phone=* is clearly preferred by about a 4 to 1
> ratio, even though the original proposal was rejected.
> This is a good example of the "problem": the smaller group of people
> who votes on tags does not always pick tags to approve which the
> general mapping community will use, and sometimes rejects tags which
> later become the "de facto" standard.

This may well be an example of the OSM wiki guiding people to a tag in preference to other more logical tags ...

Type 'phone' into the OSMwiki search box and you get redirected to the key 'phone=*'.
This gets preferential treatment to the key 'contact:phone=*'.

I think that having a wiki page on the key/tag you want to promote is essential to getting the numbers up.
And further if that key/value is prominent in any OSMwiki search then the better the chance of it gaining use.
The 'rejection' of other tags is not one of consideration but tldr.
Few mappers will take the time to read all the info on a tag that looks to suit what they have to map.

So my take home message here is;
Make a wiki page!
Premote that wiki page.
Demote, denigrate other competing tags in anyway possible.

The above should see the wanted tag become 'more popular', 'more common', 'more accepted' than the other tags.
Not saying that is what I have done, but that appears to be the way of things.

> - Joseph
> On 8/25/19, Valor Naram <valinora at gmx.net> wrote:
>> That's why I want to involve all user groups. Mappers, developers and local
>> communities.
>> Cheerio
>> Sören Reinecke alias Valor Naram
>> -------- Original Message --------
>> Subject: Re: [Tagging] Multiple tags for one purpose
>> From: marc marc
>> To: tagging at openstreetmap.org
>> CC:
>>> Le 24.08.19 à 18:04, Valor Naram a écrit :
>>>> why we have two tags for one purpose sometimes?
>>> many (almost all bad) reasons can explain it :
>>> - one key exist, a new schema is born with a new tag for the same
>>> feature/meaning, but the new schema never got a proposal or the proposal
>>> never go into voting or the accepted proposal doesn't said enought "this
>>> tag is depreced" (ex : phone <> contact:phone) or the new tag have some
>>> issue and therefore some mapper want a new schema that solve everything
>>> before dropping the first one (source:maxspeed <> maxspeed:type)
>>> - some key have high usage and a part of the community is unwilling to
>>> apply some lifecycle to tag, hoping that one day, "the invisible hand of
>>> the community" (parody of the concept of the invisible hand in
>>> economics) will solve the problem while we bury our heads in the sand
>>> to deny the problem it creates (for ex building=cooling_tower <>
>>> tower:type=cooling)
>>> - 2 key exist, one use by one editor, other rejetected by this editor
>>> but used by all-expet-one (ex : crossing=marked)
>>> - 2 key exist but the exact meaning vary according to who used it.
>>> at the end, the only usable meaning is the same for both key (ex :
>>> landuse=forest <> natural=wood)
>>> - only one tag exist at the begining but the but the key is in
>>> contradiction with the meaning/logic of the key and therefore some
>>> have created a more structured alternative. however this alternative
>>> is rejected by the default rendering because the other key has
>>> a more important use. it is the problem of the egg and the hen.
>>> (ex: landuse=grass with have a clear meaning which is not a landuse)
>>> - all those involved in this ml and/or in a voting agree that a key
>>> should be depreciated, but someone thinks it would take hundreds of
>>> voters when there are not hundreds of participants. so motivated people
>>> go their way and the problem remains (see the discussion this summer...
>>> I don't remember the tag concerned)
>>> - some depreciated tags can't be converted automaticly because the tag
>>> have 2 meanings (ex power=sub_station). not enough mapper review those.
>>> - some proposal "hides" a depreciated tag into several other good stuff.
>>> at the end the proposal got rejected or some disagree to use "the vote".
>>> imho a "proposal to depreciate a tag" need to be as small as possible
>>> therefore the default osm.org editor think it must take the lead to
>>> decide what to depreciated and do a distributed automated edit.
>>> sometimes it corresponds to the opinion of the community, sometimes not,
>>> and in this case the community has lost control and the automated edit
>>> is poorly documented and sometime wrong. it sometimes leads to edit wars
>>> or an unpleasant discussions, it further cools down people who want to
>>> make another depreciation of a tag, or it motivates them to do so via a
>>> ticket for an editor since if the dev agrees, it will happen even if the
>>> community is against.
>>> possible solutions based on my limited experience :
>>> - talk to choice the better tag between 2 need to be done at the global
>>> level, arguments must be listened but ignore noice like "the wrong tag
>>> is too important to change"
>>> - making mecanical edit to migrate a depreciated/bad tag to its new
>>> value works well at the local (coutry) level, the discussion take place
>>> with the local community, without being polluted by "opponents in
>>> principle". several of us do that kind of thing.
>>> - probably we should make a "network" to share the proposals, this would
>>> have a global impact perhaps enought to progress on some tags while
>>> "opponents in principle" continue to have no solution to the problems
>>> exposed.
>>> - it is only when several local communities have agreed on the same
>>> choice and the countries in question have accepted a mass edition that
>>> it is possible to risk such a demand at the global level.
>>> I only did 3 at the global level, 2 to fix a bug in an editor,
>>> a third to migrate a marginal key.
>>> in 2 of the 3 cases, I had requests for explanations after the fact
>>> despite it was discussed wherever I thought it was necessary. I learned
>>> that next time, we will have to discuss even more and be even more
>>> square about where the discussion is taking place and about the
>>> documentation (one was not sufficiently documented when it begging).

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