[OSM-talk] non-temporary usage of highway=road

Aun Johnsen lists at gimnechiske.org
Tue Sep 27 01:42:51 UTC 2016

I see a lot of usage of the generic tag highway=road, which is meant as a temporary tag and a “low level entry tag” for beginners. The problem with this is that because of its ambiguous meaning, it is impossible for data consumers to process this correctly. 

i.e., highway=road means anything between a small footway to motorway, so a routing engine might wrongfully send cars down a set of steps or a hiker up a motorway

As described on the proposal page, this tag is meant to be temporary until more data can be obtained from survey.

I have now had a few rounds of cleanup of the usage of this tag in Brazil. My cleanup run last year found highway=road that had been unedited for 3 years, so hardly temporary. This year I found several highway=road added by armchair mappers from Europe, and I doubt they ever will travel to the remote areas of Brazil to correct this.

I am still in progress of checking each of these elements manually, I started this years cleaning with more than 3600 highway road in Brazil alone, roughly 14 months after I had completely cleaned Brazil the last time.

In my opinion, a warning about its temporary state and non-capability with data consumers should be added to the wiki, and it should be removed from the standard presets of all the common editors. Also editors with validation functions should give a warning about the existence of this temporary tag so that it can be dealt with properly by people editing in the areas, and further QA tools should highlight them as items needing attention.
Aun Johnsen

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