[Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - Discouraging the use of deprecated schemes

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Mon Mar 22 06:02:39 UTC 2021

On Mar 21, 2021, at 6:27 PM, Graeme Fitzpatrick <graemefitz1 at gmail.com> wrote:
> ...is there any real point in going through the voting process, so that same handful of people can say yes, no or maybe, & I can say "Yay, I passed the 3:1 mark - I win!" :-)
> Maybe every wiki page should have a pro / cons box included on it, so if "you" think there is something wrong with the idea, you can say "I have concerns about "this aspect" - see Discussion Page", where you can detail what you think is the matter, but which possibly no-one else agrees is a problem?  

Graeme, this is a valid and valuable question to ask.  However, I believe it is already true that such "free form text" that anybody could write upon a Discussion page in the wiki is allowed presently.  Allowed and encouraged?  Maybe not actively encouraged, but it certainly isn't unwelcome (meaning it is welcome).  The thing is, I almost never see this done. It likely does happen on rare occasion, rare being the operative word.  What we see instead, far more often, are shiny new Proposals.  This is what has evolved in OSM, warts and all.

The wiki feature that automatically "signs one up" to receive updates to a wiki page keeps rather small the audience that receive more-or-less real time notifications that the wiki has updated.  Yes, it's true that anybody can read any wiki at any time, but the interactivity and notification that happens is to the audience of people who have already changed or contributed to that wiki, not new people who haven't (like this tagging list, which reaches a much wider audience on much broader topics of tagging in general, rather than a specific wiki topic).

We all display this earnest, almost magical wish that the right balance can be struck between effort and results.  Sadly, it isn't that easy.  Happily, we do have tools (wiki, Discussion pages, this list forum, one-to-one or one-to-several email, technical tools like Overpass and OSMCha, other media like social, proprietary tools like Slack...) which not only provide the documentation (largely wiki) that makes a good project, but the communication channels we need to develop those.  And there are people, with a huge spectrum of skills to offer, with experience both actual and desired, as well as language / cultural differences.  And on and on.  We could actually marvel that OSM even happens at all.  Rather, let's underscore the importance that we all wish to see it improve, as that should remain at the core of this discussion.

Sören, realizing that some want to see less change, some want to see more, and some do not know how to "better" effect change (as it is sometimes difficult, but certainly do-able), we must remain open-minded that a multitude of efforts to change OSM are going on simultaneously.  And that's OK.  Being heavy-handed isn't going to work (as Frederick says:  saying "highly discouraged" is a highly questionable activity which will be instantly pounced upon as debatable).  It may seem like slapping down deprecation opens the door to a multiplication of confusion, but as Christoph, Simon and others (and I) agree, tags which fall out of favor really do "fall out of favor."  I recall when landuse=farm "became" landuse=farmland (slowly but surely) and while it confused me at first, I learned how to nod my head and dance with the same beat as everybody else:  this isn't that hard and it happens at a pace that is human, so it works.  Listen to this beat in OSM:  it is really here.  Such trends may seem slow, long-term and even confusing (at first), but they are simply a natural method by which OSM changes.  There is no need to perform some kind of "rapid acceleration process" to that, in fact doing so would be detrimental to what now already works.

I think of tags like a living language.  We don't use some (maybe slang) words from 300 years ago (or 30, too), and yet new ones are popping up every day.  Some "stick," becoming part of the permanence, some don't and fall out of favor.  If you are a speaker / user of this language, are fluent in it, you don't need to follow autocratic rules about "what's in, what's out," you simply absorb these by being a participant in the language — in its usage.  As both a participant in OSM for most of its life and a linguist, I say "exactly correct."  Yes, sometimes, you look something up in a dictionary, OK.  There are even multiple dictionaries and specialized dictionaries, OK.  And if you want to speak (tag) in a certain way, OK, nobody is going to stuff a sock in your mouth and say you can't.  So, proposing that we should look forward to that likely isn't going to fly.

We have usage, we have (weak) recommendations.  Both work to have what we have, in addition to making OSM better.

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