[talk-au] "Removing closed or illegal trails." (in Nerang National Park)

osm.talk-au at thorsten.engler.id.au osm.talk-au at thorsten.engler.id.au
Fri Oct 29 11:11:40 UTC 2021

OSM is the database. 

If there are things incorrectly tagged in the database, they should be
fixed. Nobody is saying otherwise.

So yes, if in the example you gave below the legal authority has specified
that you are only allowed to use specific marked trails with specified modes
of transport, then the tags should reflect that and need to be fixed if they

Simply completely deleting features clearly visible on the ground does not
do that, and just invites the next person who comes past to map them again,
possibly with wrong tags once more.

OSM is NOT how any particular consumer decides to use and present the
information from the database. That includes Carto.

I don't think it's acceptable to compromise the database because you don't
like how a particular data consumer uses it.

If you are unhappy about how something is being presented:

a) ensure that the database correctly reflects reality
b) engage with the data consumer (be it Carto or any of the countless other
consumers of OSM data) to convince them to represent the data the way you

This is the nature of an open database like OSM, you don't control how data
consumers use the data.

-----Original Message-----
From: forster at ozonline.com.au <forster at ozonline.com.au> 
Sent: Friday, 29 October 2021 20:34
To: Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>
Cc: talk-au at openstreetmap.org
Subject: Re: [talk-au] "Removing closed or illegal trails." (in Nerang
National Park)

Hi Frederik, Thorsten

1. "a park manager would prefer them not to, and therefore deletes the track
in order to keep people from exercising their rights".

Does this happen, has it ever happened? I would be surprised if it happened
here. Anyway its not what I thought we were talking about, illegal trails.

2. 3. and 4. "knowing which informal trails they might have taken can be
helpful, might even save lives" possible but very unlikely. I could equally
argue that the types of illegal trails that I am seeing, the "I rode my
mountain bike down this way" type of trail (see #951362516
later) can reduce map utility, they are often barely visible but are
rendered the same as the type of trail a lost person would follow.  
Neither Frederik's nor my argument is particularly strong.

I mentioned women's refuges earlier. Its irrelevant that we map the polygon
but not the label. Its not because they are not verifiable, I could ground
truth them by knocking on the front door and asking. We do not map women's
refuges because that is the right thing to do. We search for justifications

Finally Frederik and Thorsten stress the importance of lifecycle tagging,
access tagging and rendering by the data users. I agree with them.

We at OSM are not doing a great job of rendering. Go to
There are 3 trails,
Way: 476219417 which is access=no
Way: Granite Track (56176535) which is legal These 2 tracks are rendered
similarly, very few map users would notice that one of them was closed

We are not doing a great job on tagging either The third track Path
#951362516 is illegal but not tagged as such. The editor should know that it
is illegal they say "Probably unofficial but reasonably well used" there is
a good chance they knew. It was clearly signed at every entrance to "stay on
formed trails" and there are lots of maps on sign boards showing all the
legal trails.

Now this trail is mapped, it is going to attract lots of traffic. Its never
going to save a lost walker's life. Its going to take many many hours of
volunteer labour to keep it closed for long enough to revegetate and get
deleted from the map. That's the consequence of the Parks Service respecting
OSM's consensus policy.

I support OSM's consensus form of government and as a consequence support
the consensus position on illegal tracks. But it causes others a lot of
problems and I think we can be more responsible and nuanced within the
consensus position.


> Hi,
> On 29.10.21 09:08, forster at ozonline.com.au wrote:
>> You could map a track under the "if it exists then map it" rule but 
>> you don't have to. We do not map women's refuges and they exist. We 
>> don't have to map every informal trail.
> This is true, and we shouldn't go out of our way to thwart the efforts 
> of park managers. Having said that,
> 1. Sometimes the matter can be a civil rights issue - depending on the 
> legal situation, people might have the *right* to use a path but a 
> park manager would prefer them not to, and therefore deletes the track 
> in order to keep people from exercising their rights. In that 
> situation, while the park manager might want the best for the 
> environment, the park manager would have to work to change the legal 
> situation instead of trying to mislead people about what they are allowed
to do.
> 2. In similar discussions we had people working with search and rescue 
> teams say that they prefer to use OSM maps because those show the 
> informal trails, and if you're searching for someone who got lost, 
> knowing which informal trails they might have taken can be helpful - 
> might even save lives.
> 3. If you have an emergency out in the wild, knowledge about informal 
> or even prohibited/closed tracks can be helpful and again, might even 
> save lives.
> 4. If you are navigating without a GPS, you might use trails for 
> orientation ("take the second left after entering the forest" or 
> whatever). In these cases if there's a trail that exists and is 
> visible but is not shown on the map, you will mis-count.
> Therefore I would like to agree with Paul and Thorsten, and stress 
> that we should (a) map access tags properly, and (b) lobby web sites 
> and apps using OSM data to properly process these access tags, by not 
> including access-restricted trails in routing or route suggestions, 
> and by clearly marking these restrictions on maps.
> Bye
> Frederik
> --
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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