[Tagging] Page about mismatching key names (historic=wayside_shrine used for modern ones etc)

Volker Schmidt voschix at gmail.com
Fri Jan 24 17:19:29 UTC 2020

my wording was intentionally provoking. But this basic conceptual issue is
at the base of many unnecessary tagging modifications.
I refrained from adding the OSM version of the duck principle.
One of the items in the proposed page illustrates well why I think people
need to get the message that we only use words as codes, not as meaning.

We had for a long time waterway=canal and for the outline we used
water=riverbank (and we still mostly do use that combination). Perfectly
working, we did not care if we were mapping the bank of a river or the bank
of a canal. At some point someone came up with the idea that canal is not a
river hence a riverbank is not a canalbank and introduced water=canal for
the concept of  the canalbank.
(I am a bit exaggerating here the reason for the change was different - see
the thread "[Tagging] Canal banks")

My basic message is tags are made of key and value and everything is
codewords. We have build a whole structure into the codewords with several
levels of colons in order to make extracting things form the database
easier, but this is not part of the core structure of the database.

There is no mismatch between natural=water and water=canal if you
understand that all keys and values are codewords. Human readability is a
convenience, but is not reflected in the data structure at all.

On Fri, 24 Jan 2020 at 15:31, Jarek PiĆ³rkowski <jarek at piorkowski.ca> wrote:

> On Fri, 24 Jan 2020 at 09:12, Volker Schmidt <voschix at gmail.com> wrote:
> > Il ven 24 gen 2020, 11:51 Mateusz Konieczny via Tagging <
> tagging at openstreetmap.org> ha scritto:
> >> One of topics often appearing is mismatch between meaning of key
> >> and key text.
> >> ...
> >> It is created at
> >> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Mismatching_key_names
> >> but page name is horrible. Ideas for a better one is welcome.
> >>
> >> Also, I only started it - help in expanding and improving it
> >> is highly welcomed.
> >
> > These are no mismatches.
> > Keys and values are in principle arbitrary sequences of alphanumeric
> characters. By convention we try to make them mnemonic by using strings
> that somehow help us remember the meaning of the string. By convention we
> use British English words for keys and values, plus numbers, mainly for
> values.
> >
> > This explanation needs to be placed prominently on the new page, to
> avoid any doubt.
> Please no. That wiki page is a much better explanation than this "it's
> only symbols".
> Keys and values are ways for us as human editors to communicate with
> each other. Those are commonly called "words" - well, at least in
> Canadian English, I don't know about British English.
> It is definitely worth explaining why some words as OSM editors use
> them are different from words as the rest of the world (or a subset of
> the world) might use them.
> --Jarek
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