[OSM-talk] Proposed mechanical edit: surface=soil to surface=dirt

Christoph Hormann chris_hormann at gmx.de
Mon Aug 31 09:51:38 UTC 2015

On Monday 31 August 2015, Mateusz Konieczny wrote:
> See
> http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Mechanical_Edits/Mateusz_Konieczny
> I plan to change surface=soil to surface=dirt. surface=soil is a
> clear duplicate of surface=dirt. It is also less popular and
> undocumented on http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:surface .
> surface=soil usage is slowly increasing and recently passed threshold
> of 400 entries worldwide. It would be a good idea to retag it to
> already documented tag before this duplicate gets more popular.

I would be careful here - 'dirt' is essentially a very vague term which 
probably originates from the concept of 'dirt roads' here.  'Soil' in 
the other hand is fairly precise, see


Only parts of the earth surface are actually covered by soil so if a way 
is correctly tagged with surface=soil (and i don't know if that is the 
case for the 400 cases you mention) this is something specific and 
potentially useful and should not be degraded by turning it into 
something as vague as surface=dirt.

In general i think surface=ground is the most sensible tag for tagging 
ways that are just established somewhere without notible construction 
work when you can't be more specific - it implies that the way surface 
is essentially the ground there in its natural state.  surface=dirt 
OTOH can mean anything from the remaining tracks of a car driving 
across a wayless area to a solidly built gravel road.

Christoph Hormann

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