[Tagging] Tagging Governance

Jez Nicholson jez.nicholson at gmail.com
Tue Sep 10 08:21:34 UTC 2019


Hi Roland,

I guess this is for your upcoming SotM session "New processes to agree on
tagging suggestions and their interaction with the editing software
available on openstreetmap.org"
https://2019.stateofthemap.org/sessions/PPTHFQ/

If I were tackling this as a consultancy project I might map out the
current processes, highlight good and bad points, then identify places
where the process could be improved.

I looked recently at how UK shop names/types defaults get into iD and how
the UK community can influence it. This led me to the (pleasant) discovery
of a) the Name Suggestion Index (NSI)
https://osmlab.github.io/name-suggestion-index/index.html b) the OSMUS
Slack channel, c) the
https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Retail_chains_in_the_United_Kingdom wiki
page.

Good points were: the vocabulary is editable by anyone capable of using
JSON and github; the NSI is used by multiple apps (e.g. Vespucci and iD);
the iD Developers are open to discussion; individuals updating the NSI with
UK shops looked at the osmwiki 'UK retail chains' page.

Bad points were: not everyone can/wants to use github; the NSI may be
receiving too many trivial additions; there is a great will to advance.
Sometimes this means that arbitrary choices are made; the osmwiki page is
edited by a small number of people.

To improve this process we might: run an OSMUK Quarterly Project to collect
and publish current photos of shopfronts (as proof of the brand name used);
ask app developers to include new features that collect metadata; get
grants from OSMF to pay developers to add these new features; insist that
the NSI site evidence for additions; document and publicise the process;
etc.

However, you could argue that evolution of the process is not strong enough
and that revolutionary change is needed.

See you at your session.

Regards,
              Jez

On Tue, Sep 10, 2019 at 5:57 AM Roland Olbricht <roland.olbricht at gmx.de>
wrote:

> Hi all,
>
> I have got into the duty to talk about tagging governance on the SotM
> and I would like to develop that opportunity towards something that is
> rather helpful in the long term.
> To ensure that I am on the right track and not unintentionally after a
> personal agenda I would like to ask you to comment on the findings so
> far listed below.
>
> This is a copy of the message to talk at . As a courtesy to your fellow
> mappers I suggest to keep the discussion in one thread and reply there.
>
>
> Imperfect Flow of Information
>
> Although many parts of the OpenStreetMap project are well translated,
> the tagging documentation has substantial deficiencies.
> Over a random sample of 10 tags the number of declared languages varies
> between 2 and 18,
> but only few are complete and up to date (sample: 2 of 10 for German, 3
> of 10 for French).
>
> Another kind of imperfect information flow is that tag definitions can
> be changed on the wiki page long after the tag is in widespread use.
>
> The converse case that a tag is introduced without any documentation is
> also happening. While this happens by ordinary users usually slow enough
> to make sense of the added data, an import or organized edit might be
> able to substantially skew the de facto meaning of a tag, regardless
> whether it is in widespread use, documented, both, or none.
>
>
> More Structure needed
>
> The translation issues have been conflated with a different problem:
> Different features may look very different between regions. E.g.
> highway=primary and highway=unclassfied versus highway=track
> need different sets of examples in Germany and the urban US on the one
> hand and Iceland or rural Africa on the other. It is easy to mix this
> with the translation into the predominant language in the area,
> but the tagging challenges in Belgium, Canada, and Niger are
> substantially different, although all three countries happen to have
> French as official language. Conversely, there is no sane reason to
> change tagging rules every block of houses in Brussels.
>
> Additionally, people often have different search terms than the British
> English tag names or their translations, and the wiki search engine is
> infamous for its bad performance. Having explicit keywords to direct the
> attention of a mapper to the list of possibly fitting tags might help.
>
> A substantial problem source of the concept of proposals is
> that it interacts with lots of tags in a nontrivial way and is
> practically never properly applied to all affected tag definitions.
> A proposal currently is an extra page although it should have much more
> an impact like a Git commit, grouping changes across various tag
> definition pages in a single changeset.
>
>
> Legitimacy and Governance
>
> What legitimation has a process if only a handful of people have that
> have the time to write mails on a mailing list and to write wiki pages
> are involved? In particular, if the proposals end up as being full of
> contradictions or vague terms and leave necessary answers undefined.
> Yet these still are the people that have shown the necessary long-term
> endurance to assure maintenance and that do the work. Thus every change
> to replace processes with better processes must be geared towards
> broadening not narrowing the base of long-term maintainers.
>
> Conversely, I fully understand mappers that are wary of sudden changes
> in the rendering or the access to tags in edting software. A lot of
> people whould probably appreciate to better understand what happens on
> the way
> from a tag discussion to a final change in the renderer or editing
> software.
> These processes are not secret, but often under-documented.
>
> Again, the various discussion channels and the lacking information flow
> contribute to the bad mood. Even worse, the ratio between people and
> channels means that evil or just plainly incompetent people could easily
> take over some channels and contribute substantially to the confusion.
> Good ideas how to redirect people and close down some of the channels
> (e.g. wiki discussion pages) might be worth pursuing. On top of that the
> wiki history is so much less helpful than what developers are nowadays
> used to from version control systems that borrowing methaphors and
> paradigms from there to the tag documentation is worth consideration.
>
> This hopefully helps to foster that the authors of the documentation and
> the mappers using a tag actually agree on its meaning.
>
>
> Best regards,
>
> Roland
>
> _______________________________________________
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> Tagging at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/tagging
>
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