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

mail at marcos-martinez.net mail at marcos-martinez.net
Mon Mar 22 15:42:12 UTC 2021

Hi Frederik, I couldn't disagree more. First of all because it is
incoherent with nowadays reality. What you are saying is that there
should be/are basically no enforceable tagging rules because I see they
are being enforced from time to time. Enforceable in the sense of
someone tagging against established consensus (whatever this is and
however this is measured), thus being corrected and upon insisting and
starting a tagging war being banned, e.g. based on this assumption a lot
of questions arise: 

Let's imagine there is a new motorway build in a country, I map it from
scratch and tag it as highway=fast_road. Very likely this will be either
changed to "trunk" or "primary" because this is the consensus that our
community has agreed upon. According to you, why should I bother about
what the wiki says? In the end it is just a kind suggestion and I don't
like being bullied around with strict rules. I am not free to use any
tag I like? Who are tho others trying to impose their criteria over
mine? Maybe I am alone and they are more but who said they represented
the whole community? How many voices are enough to be considered
community consensus? 

Why is JOSM warning when it detects tags such as "is_in"? What if I like
"is_in", so why does it bully me to not use it? Anyway, who makes the
rules in this project? Who invented the "any tag you like" paradigm and
what evidence is there that the community supports this paradigm? Was
there a vote for "any tag you like" and if there was, what meaning would
it have anyway? Taking into consideration there are millions of
contributors worldwide, what sense does it make to have votes and
different mailing lists when the ones participating are only a tiny
fracture of the community and decisions and votes turn out to be nothing
more than a bar chat for those who have too much spare time so we can
align among us 20 or 30 on how to tag something for fun within our nerd

All the above is of course rhetorical. The freedom of OSM should be
related to the freedom of the data, not something like free speech in
order to express yourself artistically as an individual. I firmly defend
that OSM needs rules to maintain data consistency. These rules need to
be established somehow (and it should be our highest priority to get
this process right to make sure everybody can participate) and there
might be some that don't like them but this is how a collaborative
project works: We build something together and agree on how to do it.
Right now it seems more like the opposite, we discuss a lot and then
everybody walks off and people will eventually do as they please anyway.
We absolutely need mechanisms to take real decisions and if, as you have
correctly pointed out, there are always the same few 30 nerds that take
them we need to involve more people - the more the better. Imagine
thousands debating about tags - we probably would need other tools than
just a mailing list to tackle the challenge. But this doesn't make the
need for rules go away. 

I challenge all of you to provide an short answer: In an ideal world, do
you at least agree on the desirability to have a database which is
consistent? Would you consider it positive if people voluntarily tagged
in an aligned manner? Because if the answer is no than the whole
discussion is pointless. 

The more OSM advances the more it reflects the huge complexity of our
planet. We are not only tagging streets, buildings, lakes and wood areas
anymore but highly complex turn lanes, kerbs and opening hours depending
on if it is for the kitchen, the reception or phone service of a POI. We
tag highly complex access restrictions, 3D building parts, lifecycle and
playground elements. Complex tagging needs require complex tagging rules
that are correctly applied to ensure a consistent data model. It might
be different communities want to handle tags differently, which is
perfectly fine. Addresses in Italy are done very differently in Italy
and German. This is ok as long as it is documented as a guideline and
enforceable. If we don't accomplish this, data users and apps will have
more and more problems in coming years to actually process our data in a
reasonable way which is the worst that can happen: Useless data sitting
in a database, gathered for nothing but to feed the individual
satisfaction of those who like to know that they did it "their way". 

One word regarding newbies: I dare saying that most don't know about
this discussion and what lies behind. People are thankful for clear
rules and the feeling they are doing it right to make sure the data they
contribute will later be used and available for the general good. For
them the Wiki is the book of rules and they will follow it. I recommend
not telling them about "any tag you like" to prevent taking away their
illusions as they might be deterred. Would I have called "unclassified
roads" as such? No I wouldn't, but it doesn't matter, it is just words:
I read the wiki, I understand what it means and I tag it, as easy as

And a final reflection: If what has been claimed is true the real power
of the project relies in the editors. If there is no rule except for the
the tag use reflected in taginfo then controlling what enters the
database is the key. Looks like instead of reading hundreds and
thousands of mails on various lists it is more efficient to put your
effort in implementing you preferred tagging scheme in an ID fork and
get people to use it. Do we want this? 

Thanks for the patience, 

Marcos (Mar Mar) 

Am 21.03.2021 12:44, schrieb Frederik Ramm:

> Hi,
> the reason that the wording on the wiki is usually weak is that there is only a handful of people who control what goes on the wiki and this handful of people does not have authority.
> A handful of people deciding that "we would recommend to use another tag instead of this one" is just about acceptable.
> A handful of people saying (and I quote your draft) "It is highly discouraged to use or interpret this tag" crosses a line.
> Who are we here on the tagging list - who are those 20 or 30 who might participate in a vote - to decree that something is "highly discouraged"?
> If you want to go down this route then you need to drop the authoritative "it is discouraged" language and instead say: "The following group of 30 people think that you should not be using this tag any more", with a link to the vote. (And allow others to add a banner that says "and here's another 30 who think differently").
> This tagging list and the whole wiki voting system are good enough to make (weak) recommendations, but they are not good enough to "highly discourage" anything or make binding decisions. Before doing that you need to overhaul the whole mechanism that would lead to such a "highly discouraged" verdict. You would have to ensure that people from all over OSM could participate in the discussion and vote (including those who don't speak English).
> I don't think this is a proposal that can even go forward. The group of people that would eventually be voting does not have the authority to make that decision. If this vote were carried through and you were to put a "highly discouraged" banner on every page that describes a deprecated feature, I might have to put another banner on top of that which says "the wording of the following banner is disputed in the OSM community".
> Bye
> Frederik
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