[Tagging] Which languages are admissible for name:xx tags?

Christoph Hormann osm at imagico.de
Wed Mar 25 10:58:43 UTC 2020

On Wednesday 25 March 2020, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> In my opinion, a name:xx tag should only be added if you can
> demonstrate that people natively speaking the living language xx are
> actually using this name for this entity. 

In terms of our traditional values and principles active use of the name 
is not the necessary criterion, it is verifiable local knowledge.  Like 
with any kind of names practical verification of names would be 
possible by inquiring about the name to people locally.  This 
essentially means the following practical requirements:

* there being a sufficient number of people present locally that 
speak/write the language in question.  Those don't have to be people 
living there, it can also be visitors.
* these people knowing the name in said language - being able to look it 
up on some external source does not count, that is wikipedia 
verifiability, not OSM verifiability.
* these people largely consistently agreeing on the same name.


La tour Eiffel:


has a verifiable name:de, name:en, name:ru and probably quite a few 
other languages as you could go there (normally, not right now of 
course) and inquire people there about the name in those languages and 
(a) would find people who can tell it from their own knowledge and (b) 
these names largely match.

> I think we have a very 
> unhealthy inflation of names in OSM that are added by "single-purpose
> mappers" - they come in, stick a name:my-favourite-language tag onto
> everything, and go away again. [...]

I don't think that is the main problem here.  There are certainly people 
whose main mapping activity is to add name translations from external 
data sources but that is not really the issue here as far as i can see.

It seems to me the problem is more that we have meanwhile a significant 
fraction of mappers who reject OSMs traditional value of local 
verifiability and map according to other principles (in particular the 
usefulness principle - that anything that is useful for certain data 
users can and should be added to the OSM database).  My estimate would 
be that this applies to at least about 25-30 percent of the active 
mappers - possibly significantly more especially if you include 
participants in organized mapping activities.

So the problem we are struggling with here is IMO not specific to name 
tagging but more about a fairly fundamental division within the OSM 
community about the basic premise of the project.  

Christoph Hormann

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