[Tagging] Dispute on tagging place=* in Turkmenistan

Kevin Kenny kevin.b.kenny at gmail.com
Wed Jan 2 00:11:53 UTC 2019

On Tue, Jan 1, 2019 at 6:46 PM Allan Mustard <allan at mustard.net> wrote:
> Looking for some guidance here from the tagging experts.  Please see the dispute section on the Turkmenistan wiki discussion page https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Talk:Turkmenistan#Disputed:_Suggested_Place_Tags_for_Administrative_Subdivisions
> The nub is that I advocate classifying Turkmenistan's municipalities based on their official status according to the host government (see the wiki article Districts in Turkmenistan).  Another mapper, Aka_Bob, disagrees and insists that there are OSM guidelines based on population (I note that the OSM place=village article says a village can have up to 10,000 population, which in the United States is laughable--that would be a town or a city).  Aka_Bob edited that section of the wiki article unilaterally without first consulting local mappers.  I have no intention of entering into an edit war, but rather want to take this out to the community for discussion.

I once laboured under the same misconception, and mismapped some
villages in New York before more experienced mappers showed me the
error of my ways. The consensus appears to be that Aka_Bob is right.
With that said, there will always be some overlap among the
categories, and it is possible that population may not be the only
criterion in a given locality, but legal status is usually a rather
poor indication.

In the US, at least, we use admin_level to track the legal status of
villages, towns, et cetera, and instead follow population guidelines.
Anything else for New York State, for instance, would lead to absurd
results. We have some legal 'hamlets' (e.g., Brentwood, Levittown)
that are actually small cities with population around 60,000 - and a
chartered 'city' with a population of about 3,000. Our 'towns' range
in population from 38 (Red House) to about 760,000 (Hempstead), and
our 'villages' from 11 (Dering Harbor) to 54,000 (Hempstead Village).
(Yes, our largest 'hamlet' is larger than our largest 'village'!)

Since in practice, what place=* is used for is to rate 'relative
importance' (and so guide at what zoom level a name will appear, and
how big a font will be used for it), the population guideline works
better in practice than an attempt to follow the legal definition.

There's been fairly extensive discussion, here and in talk-us, that
led up to https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/United_States_admin_level
for the US admin levels.  I'd suspect that a similar approach would
work well for the administrative boundaries in Turkmenistan.

I understand that the UK is an exception, because the status of
'town', 'village', 'city' and so on relates to whether a given
settlement has a church, a market, and similar facilities, and
therefore does reflect somewhat the status of the settlement relative
to its hinterland. (That scheme would surely not work for the US,
where for instance, we have many country churches that are not part of
larger settlements; it may be that the rectory is the only house
within a couple of km in any direction.)

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