[OSM-talk] Flickr Now Supports OSM Tags

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Thu Oct 1 08:21:03 BST 2009


Eugene Alvin Villar wrote:
> What's so hard about standardizing on the boolean values given 
> appropriate changes to editor presets, good wiki documentation, and a 
> deprecation period for other boolean values?

It's a kind of slippery slope situation. There is fear that once it has 
been proven that standardisation works for true/false values, there will 
be demands to standardise everything else as well.

This would be positive for the users of our data in the short term 
because it means they would not have to interpret the data; however it 
would remove dynamism from the project and require mappers who want to 
invent something new to apply to the standardisation committee first, 
and we feel that this would be a severe detriment to further 
participation on the mapper side. OSM flourishes partly because mappers 
feel that they can help shape the project, and contribute what they 
think is important, rather than just being mechanical turks (without the 

In the long term, standardisation would kill the project, and thus not 
be desirable even for our users. - Coming from the outside and not 
having the knowledge about OSM that we have, users can be forgiven to 
demand things that would ultimately destroy OSM, but it is our duty to 
educate them and to explain to them that they can either take OSM as it 
is, with some interpretation required, or they can demand that OSM 
change but that would, in the long run, probably mean no OSM at all.

I run a small company that, among other things, sells standardised 
derivates of OSM data. I spend a lot of time trying to stay ahead of the 
game, analyse what tags people use and for what, and try and convert 
these into consistent and reliable values. If OSM changes from 
"landuse=forest" to "russ_nelson_sees=trees" because that's what mappers 
what to use, then I can adapt and my customers don't have to, and 
neither does the OSM community have to twist and turn just because some 
users want consistent tagging.

In my eyes, this is the way to deal with standardisation - do not force 
it upon the mappers, but instead create a "filter layer". In my case 
this is a commercial operation, but I have been suggesting for ages that 
instead of writing bots to streamline OSM data, why don't people write 
generic filters/standardising engines that take the "chaotic" OSM data 
as of today and produce well-ordered standardised output for people "out 
there" who cannot be bothered to keep up with OSM's tagging anarchy? It 
would not be too hard.

And I'm not saying this because of my business (until now, keeping up 
with changes and doing the standardisation takes more work than I get 
paid for it so I would benefit from OSM itself being standardised); I 
truly believe that the way things work in OSM, with "standards" being 
un-enforceable and people constantly deviating from them (even if there 
is a certain base consensus on many things) is the only way it *can* 
work without degrading into some kind of Google Map Maker that does not 
look for project members, but for worker ants.


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