[Tagging] Denominations vs religions organisations

Minh Nguyen minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us
Mon Jan 18 02:31:49 UTC 2021

Vào lúc 13:57 2021-01-17, Joseph Eisenberg đã viết:
> Are you all then recommending that a Southern Baptist church, "First 
> Baptist" in Tyler, Texas be changed from:
> (old): "denomination"="baptist" + "name"="First Baptist"
> (new) "denomination"="Southern Baptist Convention" + "name"="First Baptist"
> And that an Assemblies of God church in Indonesia be changed from:
> (old): "denomination"="pentecostal" + name="Gereja Sidang Jemaat Allah 
> Filadelfia"
> (new): "denomination"="Gereja Sidang Jemaat Allah" + name=""Gereja 
> Sidang Jemaat Allah Filadelfia"

Not quite, I think their suggestion (or at least what I would suggest) 
is to set a denomination name that may differ from the organization 
name. For example, one attends a "Southern Baptist church", not a 
"Southern Baptist Convention church", therefore 
denomination=southern_baptist. This tag has hundreds of uses that were 
most likely given individual attention, since it's rare for SBC 
affiliation to be inferrable from the church's name in GNIS.

Sometimes this situation can be taken to extremes, such as 
denomination=churches_of_christ_in_christian_union, but it's just a 
reflection of the fact that denominations are very fragmented in reality.

> The problem here is that we would end up with different names in each 
> language, so it wouldn't be much use for search or categorization unless 
> you already knew what you were looking for. Also 90% or more of current 
> denomination tags are big categories like "evangelical" or "orthodox" 
> (Jewish) or "tibetan" (Buddhist) so we would have to retag most of the 
> existing usage to match the full name of the organisation.

For better or worse, denomination=* is an enumeration-typed key, not a 
freeform string-typed key. The Assemblies of God church in Indonesia 
would get denomination=assemblies_of_god, just like one in the U.S.

I share the other commenters' aversion to opening this can of worms. 
There are plenty of denominations that can't neatly be categorized into 
only one of these big categories that you're referring to. I'm pretty 
confident most Christian mappers wouldn't quite know how to approach the 
distinction between classifications, orientations, and polities, let 
alone how to cram all that information into a single denomination=* key 
when a denomination can have multiple orientations.

A sophisticated enough search engine will unavoidably need to infer a 
hierarchy of denomination=* values. One of the most common values is 
denomination=roman_catholic, one of several common Catholic values. But 
for Protestant denominations, a search engine can't simply perform a 
substring search for "protestant" anyways.

The good news is that, at build time, a search engine could hard-code a 
lookup table based on Wikidata's tree of denominations joined to 
OpenStreetMap tags. [1] If Sophox ever emerges from hibernation, an OSM 
Wiki-powered query would also be possible. [2] Note that neither query 
involves mixing Wikidata data with OSM data. The data consumer would not 
necessarily be dependent on Wikidata infrastructure, because the lookup 
table can be hard-coded the same way that name-suggestion-index 
hard-codes various bits of data so that editors don't have to query 
wikis directly on demand.

[1] https://w.wiki/ui6

> Or are you guys just saying "give up on that tag, it's hopeless?" ;-)

This key may indeed be problematic for certain use cases. denomination=* 
is a looser relationship to an organization than either owner=* or 
operator=*, but more systematized than brand=* because one can trace the 
lineage of historical denominations to determine the relationships 
between present-day denominations.

minh at nguyen.cincinnati.oh.us

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