[OSM-talk] SteveC should decide

Andrew Errington a.errington at lancaster.ac.uk
Sat Oct 3 04:16:18 BST 2009

On Sat, October 3, 2009 10:56, Russ Nelson wrote:
> Roy Wallace writes:
>> I think we are quite capable of (voluntarily) collaboration across
>> country borders without needing an authority figure to enforce it.
> Good!  Collaborate on this and remove 8 of 9 proposals:
> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Proposed_features/Noname

I think this (the noname thing) is a non-issue and I would remove 9 of 9
proposals.  Furthermore I would not add a 10th.

The wiki page states "there needs to be a way to record that the absence
of a name tag is not a flaw in OpenStreetMap".  I assert that there does
*not* need to be a way to do this.

If you see a street on the map with no name displayed you might think one
of two things:

1) The street has no name (and you might hum a tune by U2)
2) The street has a name but it has not been recorded

Either way, it doesn't matter.

If I am a map user then I can not intuit whether the name is missing, or
there just isn't one.  If there should be a name it's too bad.  I can't do
anything about it.  In particular, if it's a street I'm looking for then I
will be frustrated if I later learn that the unnamed street was the one I
wanted, but again, it's too bad.

If I am a map maker then I know whether or not the street has a name,
because I've been there and seen it.  I can look at the map and see that
this street has no name, but I know that it does.  So I will edit the data
to make it right.  This also covers the case where the name is wrong, or

IMHO a map maker should periodically survey areas they are familiar with
to ensure that /what they know/ is actually recorded or is still correctly
recorded on the map.  They also need to trust other map makers that
whatever is on the map is true and correct and complete (for achievable
values of true, correct and complete).

A map user has to take the information in the map on trust too.  However,
he or she must always be aware that there may be errors or oversights, or
that things in real life change and the map doesn't reflect that
immediately.  To blindly follow the information on a map would be foolish.
 Map users should also be encouraged to become map makers (even if only
indirectly through OpenStreetBugs for example) if they discover such

There is only a flaw if you know there is a flaw.  If *you know* something
to be wrong you can fix it.  If you don't know something is wrong then you
should leave it and assume it is correct.  If you start to suspect the map
then you will go mad.

In summary, the price of accuracy is eternal vigilance.  Or something like

I don't expect to extinguish the noname debate with my argument, but I do
think it is a non-issue.


PS I apologise if you now have a U2 tune in your head.

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