[Talk-GB] boundary mania

Mark Goodge mark at good-stuff.co.uk
Sun Aug 26 20:04:01 UTC 2018

On 26/08/2018 20:01, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> Hi,
> On 08/26/2018 12:46 PM, Colin Smale wrote:
>> It has gone all quiet here, and in the mean time smb001 has been making
>> steady progress across England.
> I think he shouldn't have done this. He should have argued his case here
> and the community should have come to an explicit resolution, rather
> than one party creating a "status quo".

I agree.

> Personally, I am very much against mapping historic boundaries in OSM,
> mostly because the exemption from the "on the ground" rules that apply
> to current administrative borders (they are so important that we make an
> exception) don't hold for historic boundaries.

And also because there is no single entity otherwise known as the 
"historic" boundaries. Even before the major changes in the 1970s 
(objection to which is what a lot of the passion for the historic 
boundaries stems from), they were not perfectly stable. The Victorians 
were inveterate tinkerers, they adjusted boundaries continually even if 
only at a much more local level than the 1974 reforms.

Any mapped historic boundaries are, therefore, nothing more than a 
snapshot of what they were at a particular moment in time, not a record 
of how things have always been. Even the KML downloads provided by the 
Association of British Counties, the prime cheerleader for the historic 
counties, is offered in two different definitions which match different 
snapshots of the boundaries.

The historic boundaries are useful for a number of historic research and 
educational uses. But they are only properly meaningful when used in the 
form which matches the date being researched. Unless we are going to 
have every variant of the historic boundaries mapped on OSM (in which 
case, we should also map newer but now defunct administrative 
boundaries, such as the county of Avon), there's no real value in 
mapping them in OSM at all. Leave them to dedicated historic projects 
where the data is relevant.


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