[Tagging] [OSM-talk] Tagging disputed boundaries

Johnparis okosm at johnfreed.com
Tue Mar 12 18:21:16 UTC 2019

Thanks. I never did post the final vote, which was 17 yes, 14 no, and 2
abstain. (There was an additional yes vote after the time period elapsed,
which has no effect on the outcome.)

The proposal was therefore defeated, not having achieved anywhere near 74%
approval. I suspect that it is not possible to get anything higher that
what the proposal achieved (about 55%). I have not gone through the
comments to see if further changes and another vote would make a difference.

What surprised me, however, was the general lack of interest. I had thought
this was a hot button issue, what with dozens of people registering with
OSM, the big kerfuffle about Crimea, etc. If only 33 people are interested
in this topic, it seems useless for me to continue to try to refine the

Having comments during the voting seems useful, but I was taken aback by
the fact that issues were raised during the voting that were not raised
during the Request For Comments period. That strikes me as odd, since it
raises issues that cannot be discussed during the voting. I refer, for
example, to the idea of the "on the ground" principle.

The proposal was written specifically to SUPPORT the "on the ground"
principle, which I felt was undermined by the vote of the OSM Foundation

The problem with the current system is that it conflates two things: the
border claim by a country and the line of control for a country.

Let's start with borders. ALL borders in OSM are based on claims. All of
them. Even when you see a fence, a border crossing post, etc., those are
REFLECTIONS of the border claim. They are not the border itself. And all
borders (even maritime) are based on paper. Either there was a war and a
treaty, or there is a traditional agreement, or in the case of maritime
borders, there is (generally) a 12-mile boundary away from "baselines", all
of which are claims. So to be clear, every single admin_level=2 boundary in
OSM today is based on a claim.

Lines of control are different, and are based on actual "on the ground"
control. Those are fluid and difficult to ascertain in some cases, which is
why the proposal spelled out a system that anyone could apply to know where
and how to (literally) draw the line.

Because it's basically impossible to eliminate the border claims (they are
inherent to the OSM map), and because they are not observable "on the
ground", the proposal was designed to eliminate the conflation between
border claims and lines of control. The purpose of this is to support the
on the ground principle. I am surprised that some people thought it might
undermine it.

Similarly with the list of claiming entities. There is ALREADY such a list
("political entities with ISO codes"), it is simply not consistently
followed. The proposal offered specific criteria so everyone would know
who's in and who's out, as well as a way to change the criteria.

But enough of that. These things could have been discussed during the RFC.
They weren't. I doubt with such a controversial topic, however, that a 74%
vote would ever be possible. So I am content to mark it as "defeated".

I do like Nathaniel's idea, and since we have "any tag you like" there is
nothing to stop people from implementing the proposal as is. I do suspect
that edit wars (as we have already seen) will follow, and I feel sorry for
the Data Working Group and the OSM Foundation board -- I certainly wouldn't
want to arbitrate those.


On Mon, Mar 11, 2019 at 8:50 PM Nathaniel V. Kelso <nvkelso at gmail.com>

> Hi fellow mapping enthusiasts,
> Just a friendly heads up I've started to tag more disputed administrative
> boundary lines in OpenStreetMap with tags for disputed=yes (but will leave
> the existing dispute=yes alone), adding disputed_by=* on disputed ways, and
> adding claimed_by=* on their relations to support multiple points-of-view.
> I posted a diary entry about this sprint here:
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/nvk/diary/47890
> So far I've limited editing to existing features (like in Kashmir, Crimea,
> Western Sahara), but there actually aren't that may so I may start adding
> missing ones later this month.
> If you have any questions please let me know, and if you want to help out
> let's coordinate :)
> Cheers,
> _Nathaniel
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
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