[Tagging] Proposed rewrite Of highway=track wiki page - Third Draft

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Thu Apr 8 22:50:26 UTC 2021

Flo:  Truly, I do not wish to be contentious as I say this, but I'll paraphrase (an)other frequent Contributor to OSM from the USA who notes that frequently, other Contributors (especially from Europe, especially from Germany) wish for there to be a "perfectly clean" 1:1 mapping from reality to our map when it comes to verifiability, especially with regard to signs that explicitly say this, or that, or not this or not that.  They frequently say "fix your country!" when it comes to the USA.  Alas, we cannot:  our country is what it is.  We can only map what we know because we see it, or map what we know because we know it.  Sometimes, what we know isn't because there is a sign, it is because we know the law (at that location, in those circumstances).

Sometimes, (I'd argue all the time, giving rise to the phrase "ignorance of the law is no excuse") knowledge of "what is" in the real world isn't explicitly stated by a sign (here, there, everywhere).  Indeed, some knowledge of the law (for example, regarding trespassing on private land) gives rise to implicit (not explicit) knowledge of "what is" (in the real world), and you seem to be saying that if another person cannot read from a sign what I tag (because I know the law, but didn't see a sign), that I should not have tagged that in the first place, because another person cannot verify this because it is not on a sign.  But they CAN verify it because of the law, at that place, in those circumstances.  I'm OK applying a tag like that, even if you are not.

So, I AM "collecting fact, not fiction."  The facts happen to be captured by law and circumstance, rather than an explicit sign saying "do this" or "don't do that" (can't you read the sign?!)  In OSM, this is OK, as it does NOT violate the fundamental principle that we collect facts, not fiction.  The facts might need to be verified by more than a single factor than "a sign exists that says so," which might include local law, where a boundary is, and / or other factors.  We can and should map these facts, since, taken together, as reality is often expressed by many things taken together, they are not fiction.

Being from the USA and having lived here all my life (but I have spent weeks and months in dozens of other countries throughout my life), the concept of "I need to be able to observe legal state" seems foreign to me.  Or, rather, what doing so DOES entail includes a knowledge of local law, which is what is meant by "ignorance of the law is no excuse."  We seem to be saying largely the same thing, namely that "people should know what it takes to remain legal," but you seem to be saying that it must be observable all the time and everywhere (which is a bit more harmonious with being able to be easily mapped in OSM due to our Verifiability tenet), whereas I'm saying it must be knowable and perhaps informed by signs, but that isn't required, as it is my duty as a citizen (or visitor) to know what the combination of circumstances in the real world gives rise to with regard to legal behavior.

Um, I am not an attorney.  I am an informed citizen with regard to my local, state and national laws.  I cannot recite the entire litany of them chapter and subdivision, but I know enough about them to confidently navigate my life in and about my world.  That gives me the confidence to map accurately in OSM, even if another person who comes along can't verify that by reading a sign, they can by knowing the law.  The way you state how it works in Germany does seem to be fundamentally different than here (California, USA), as it is entirely possible (here) that while hiking, I might "stray" onto private property which is poorly fenced, signed or otherwise notifies me that I am trespassing, when in fact I AM trespassing.  OSM can accommodate these differences just fine:  simply state "what is," and if it is verifiable with a sign, great.  If it is not, but is verifiable by "knowledge of the law in that place and in those circumstances," again, great.


> On Apr 8, 2021, at 3:12 PM, Florian Lohoff <f at zz.de> wrote:
> On Thu, Apr 08, 2021 at 01:18:38PM -0700, stevea wrote:
>> So, it is not always clear that people are "randomly" tagging access
>> tags, although I'm sure this does happen on occasion in OSM, which
>> certainly CAN be problematic.  Other times, people are not "simply
>> feeling that something is out of bounds," they might actually know
>> (even without signs or "on the ground" evidence) that something IS (or
>> is NOT) a certain, legal access of one value or another.  So,
>> "problems" of access are not always so apparent.  Let's not
>> second-guess extant tagging, as if we do, the entire project
>> collapses.  We might agree that access tags that are in the map are
>> something we can trust, but they don't always arise from explicitly
>> posted access:  they might, they might not, since the reality of how
>> an access tag became established in the mind of a mapper who entered
>> it (let's assume accurately) both can be and is more complex than
>> simply seeing a sign on the ground.
> The point is that its one of the fundamental principles of OSM 
> that we collect facts not fiction. We collect stuff which
> can be validated by anyone willing to visit a certain place.
> If we start adding stuff with random private knowledge or fiction
> which is not possible to validate on site we open a huge can of worms.
> Most jurisdications (US may be different) explicitly state that
> the public needs to be able to observe legal state. E.g. for
> Germany, as long as there is no fence, signs or gates the public
> can not observe that property is private and owners may not
> assume so. So as long as there is no explicit observable fact
> there is no way of liability or prosecution.
> Flo
> -- 
> Florian Lohoff                                                     f at zz.de
>  Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
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