[Tagging] Basic cartography features missing, why?

Martin S√łndergaard sondergaard246 at gmail.com
Sat Nov 7 01:42:01 UTC 2020

  I am also very much a newcomer only having mapped for a few months, and
so far I have constantly been running into the same problems that
are mentioned in this thread.

I am mapping in Denmark where we have high quality official information on
place names. However, adding much of this information in OSM is very
difficult. In most cases the place names are *not* tied to a single
specific landuse or natural area. Here are a couple examples I have worked

*Orebanker* - https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/861178572
This is a prominent bank or elongated hill with a single name. However, it
consists of a mix of landuse=forest and landuse=farmland and no obvious
single feature to add the name to. What is the correct way to tag this?

*Viemosen *- https://www.openstreetmap.org/way/863161581
This is the name of an area of wetland/meadow, but a part of the area has
been reclaimed for farmland. However, the name officially still applies to
the original area, so it should include the farmland just north of the
meadow. Instead I have had to just add the name to the only feature that
covers most of the area. You could argue that it is better than nothing,
but technically it is slightly incorrect information.

As a casual mapper mapping this information is really discouraging. Best
case, the names might show up on renders in 5-10 years; worst case, the lag
of standard guidelines on this means that the tagging is wrong or few
people add this information and renderers never render it.

I understand that tagging standards are based mostly on how many current
features with  said tag there are and it is therefore slow to change. And
this process makes some amount of sense for more specialized information.
But for something as basic as "*how do we tag the place name of an area
that is not tied to a single feature?*" it baffles me that there is no
consensus after 16 years. It is clearly a sign that the current process of
agreeing on tagging standards is not working in this specific case.


On Fri, 6 Nov 2020 at 19:34, Anders Torger <anders at torger.se> wrote:

> Hello everyone, newcomer here!
> I've been a casual contributing mapper for a couple of years here in
> Sweden. Only since 2018 :-O, I thought it was longer, and during this
> time I've made 1700 edits mostly using iD, just started using JOSM for
> some more complex edits. Anyway, I recently tried to up my game to make
> really high quality and "complete" maps in the areas I live. I have a
> lot of local knowledge combined with very high quality government maps
> (already preloaded into the editor, not the highest resolution version,
> but enough for most aspects) together with satellite images which today
> has much better alignment than a few years ago (still government maps
> are best on that). So good reference is there too, I have all I need to
> make a good job.
> My areas are bit more rural, more nature. Villages, hamlets and towns.
> Nature is prominent and naming nature is important, many old names but
> still in active use by forestry, outdoor people, hunters and locals.
> When mapping these, I immediately run into basic issues that I'm
> surprised that they aren't solved already.
> I'm not 100% sure if this mailing list is the right venue for discussing
> these issues. OSM as a community is quite hard to grasp for a newcomer
> and I have been sent to different places, but now I'm here.
> Anyway, my observations (mostly using the default openstreetmap-carto
> style) :
> ** Tagging bays and straits as areas work great, as the renderer gets
> and idea how prominent it is and it can make proper text sizing and they
> can be seen even if zoomed out if the area is large. Lots of our lakes,
> even quite small ones have sub-naming, and with these features I can
> make really good mapping of this.
> ** Tagging and naming areas on ground does not seem to be developed much
> at all, unfortunately.
> ** There is natural=peninsula so one can tag and name an area of varying
> size, but it doesn't seem to render (unless I've made some mistake...)
> ** I can't make an area to name hills or slopes, which is very common
> around here (natural=hill would be nice and is more generic than slope).
> There's peak, but that's only for point for the highest peak with
> elevation, so it doesn't the purpose here.
> ** Valleys can only be tagged as ways, but here it would make much more
> sense to make an area, as sizes of these valleys vary a lot, and the
> renderer need to know how large this is (not just how long) to make sane
> renders.
> ** Due to limitations in area-based name tagging the map looks empty
> just when zoomed out a little, as names disappear almost directly, so
> despite detailed mapping and tagging the overview map is not as useful
> as it could be. While the renderer can and does make proper decisions of
> prominence for bays and strait made as areas, point-based natural names
> often yield strange and misleading maps as vastly different sized areas
> have just a point for the name and no other differentiator, there's no
> way the renderer can make an appropriate render decision as the data is
> not there.
> ** Support for group naming is limited. It's here very common that
> several smaller islands are named as a group, smaller ponds are named as
> a group etc, without having individual names. There are tags for that
> (group/cluster), but not rendered. The best alternative today is to make
> it a named multipolygon, but only few renderers make the expected
> result, ie one name rather than only in one subarea or duplicated in all
> areas (which looks strange as the name is often in plural form, or it
> doesn't show up at all if each subarea is small).
> ** Another fairly common group naming concept is when each feature has
> its own name, but the group of features have also a separate collective
> name. Maps supporting this concept will thus when you zoom out not show
> the individual names but only the group name. The group/cluster tag
> would perhaps be the way to do this, but as far as I know no current
> style supports it.
> ** As a minor note, I've noted there is no good tag for anonymous gravel
> yards, which there are a lot of here. Abandoned quarry is the closest,
> but still not right, as only some actually were gravel/sand pits to
> start with. Those gravel yards are often leftovers from construction
> work or forestry often even locals don't exactly know when or why they
> were made. Today they are used mainly used for parking by people being
> out in nature, but they are not maintained so they are not exactly
> parking lots either.
> The central issue here is about naming though, support for group naming
> and the ability to name areas on land which just like bays and straits
> have fuzzy borders (there is no exact start or end of a hill or a
> valley). There is no question about it that the naming I mentioned above
> exist plentiful at least in Sweden, and it's used in Swedish
> general-purpose maps, it's not some special odd feature.
> To me, which know very little about OSM and its history, but am used to
> using maps both in digital and paper form, see the ability to name
> groups, and the ability to differentiate size of natural features as
> very basic functions required to produce high quality cartography. But
> OSM is a 16 year old project and still doesn't have widespread support
> for these basic features, essentially making high quality cartography an
> impossibility at least in this part of the world. This is strange, there
> must be something else going on. Maybe it's technically difficult to
> implement. Maybe it's technically difficult to make any new things at
> all as the database has grown. Maybe it's hard to get acceptance for new
> features as the community has grown large and diverse. Maybe OSM is not
> intended for mapping natural features. Maybe the ability to show
> anything useful other than maximally zoomed in isn't a priority. Maybe
> rural areas isn't important to OSM. I don't know.
> Oh, while these cartography issues indeed are more prominent in rural
> areas, we do have named areas in denser places in Sweden too like in and
> around Stockholm, it just doesn't hurt as much if you leave out these
> names as there are much other things to navigate by.
> Anyway, I'm not really prepared to fight or self-tag 100000 of these
> objects just to try and see if these features might be accepted some
> years from now. I'm basically just checking out the status here to see
> if OSM and I has a future together :-). For my own mapping needs I don't
> absolutely need OSM, I can choose to work with the government data
> instead as much of that has been publically available since 2015. It's
> however nice to be able to contribute to something that is globally
> available with an open license, but great cartography is also important
> to me. I know I will get that from the government data. With OSM it
> seems... ehh... complicated. I'm not really prepared to significantly
> increase my mapping effort (Sweden in OSM is still too a large extent
> unmapped or poorly mapped) if despite exact and fully detailed
> contributions there will still be sub-standard maps coming out of it.
> /Anders Torger
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Martin S√łndergaard Pedersen
Simonsstraat 108, 2628TK Delft
The Netherlands
+31 (0)6397870004
sondergaard246 at gmail.com
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