[OSM-talk] Can wikidata links help fight name inflation?

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Wed May 27 21:13:11 UTC 2015


   we're seeing more and more "name:xx" tags on OSM objects.

Not only are speakers of widely used languages adding their language
tags all over the world; but rising interest in OSM also brings us to
the attention of language lovers and speakers of minority languages. The
less established a language is, the more committed its few proponents to
have "their" language respected and recorded.

The place node for London has 154 name tags as we speak, but there are
several thousand languages in use on the planet, so there's still room
for enhancement.

Not only well-known tourist magnets carry foreign names; some dedicated
language mappers have gone over and beyond the call of duty and added,
for example, name:ru tags even to small villages:


(This is a matter currently under investigation by Data Working Group
and it is relatively certain that not all 582,653 name:ru tags will remain.)

It is difficult to judge when such foreign names have a right to be
there, and when they're just inventions or name translations or
transliterations. I guess we'll have to make rules on that somehow, but
at the same time I dread doing it, and I wonder:

If a place has a wikidata tag, could/should we then simply defer to
Wikidata for names in other languages?

We are a database of geodata and not one of international cultural
heritage; even if London has a name in over 2000 languages, is OSM
really the place to record these 2000 names? Would it not be better to
record the wikidata link for London, and then (perhaps in co-operation
with people at Wikidata) provide means for people doing map rendering to
join OSM data with a separately-loaded translation table from Wikidata?

We could then limit ourselves to using a "name" tag for the locally used
name, or continue to allow a "name:xx" but only if these languages were
actually used by the local population; throw in an int_name if you want
(but some may say that's already an unfair privilege for users of
English and the Latin alphabet). Anything else - i.e. names used for a
place in other languages than the local ones - would be off-topic for
OSM and should be recorded in Wikidata.

Do you think Wikidata could play that role, and take the burden off of
us? Or is Wikidata not mature enough for that yet, or even unsuitable?


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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