[Tagging] Updating definition and description of place=square

Greg Troxel gdt at lexort.com
Sun Mar 22 19:54:47 UTC 2020

I just looked at this discussion and am a bit baffled.  We do have
notions in OSM that tags mean what they are defined, not what the words
might mean, but I think this situation is even more difficult.

I live in New England, and we have lots of place names "Foo Square".
Perhaps the biggest is "Harvard Square", and basically that's an area
surrounding the junction of some roads, and nearby is a rapid transit
rail ("subway", we call it in Boston) and a college that for some reason
is famous.

Less notably lots of towns have things called squares.   They are
essentially never square, and rarely associated with areas of grass or
other places for people to gather.

There are also lesser squares, basically intersections that didn't used
to be that notable and now have a "Corporal John Smith Memorial Square"

So my point is that if someone wants to communicate to normal people,
using "square" as a type of object in search is not going to work, at
least in my corner of the US.   Here, people simply map a name "Harvard
Square" to a place.  Someone hearing "Waverley Square" not konwing
anything about it would assume that 1) there are multiple roads and 2)
that whatever Waverley Square is, it is more interesting from some vague
shopping/commerce/civic/historic sense than the things that aren't quite
in it and 3) really they wouldn't assume much more.

So perhaps then if "place=square" is supposed to have some semantics,
then Harvard Square should be "place=locality" and maybe it is.  (Even
if people live there, the name as used doesn't really represent that.)

User interfaces will have to be careful to avoid users being confused
that Foo Square is a type of osm-square.

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