[OSM-talk] usefulness of brand:wikipedia and brand:wikidata tags (was Re: Bank of India (and other) Wikidata tags)

Roland Olbricht roland.olbricht at gmx.de
Thu Apr 18 19:02:03 UTC 2019

Dear Andy,

I would like to use a metaphor:

If I had known that the captain of the Titanic considered the ship
unsinkable then I had not boarded the ship.
Not so much because I had been interested in the captain's belief but
because believing to be unsinkable is way too little for a contingency plan.

The contingency plan for OpenStreetMap is that everyone can still edit
the map even if the main database were the only website of the world
that is still available. This works well with a "wikipedia" tag: An
average person can, from the wording of the page title, still predict
whether an object in question qualifies for that tag or not, without the
article available at all.

This does not work with a wikidata tag.
Without the Wikidata server up and availble the tag is a random number only.

I'm not talking about who has the most reliable server here.
In practice the things that happen (and all actually have happened in
one form or another):
- A provider blocks the IP address block of a particular site because of
a policy on an adjacent IP address
- HTTPS is used and the browser or the client's library does not trust
the certificate or has a conflicting policy
- A misconfigured carrier grade NAT makes the address inaccessible
- Wikipedia or other services distinct from openstreetmap.org go on strike
- a site starts to apply or substantially reduces quotas

I do not presume the Wikidata servers had failed or to do in the
forseeable future. Serious issues always come from an unexpected
direction. The engineers of the Titanic have taken precaution for many
many things and probably simply never thought about icebergs, or not
hard enough. So please do not try to discuss the issues away.

It is nowadays an engenering virtue to decouple things enough to keep
each of the parts as simple as possible. That has saved both many lifes
as well as trillions of dollars.

That said, the free-form tagging paradigm means that it may or may not
been acceptable to add tags in addition to tags understandable without
the help of any external tool.  However, it is destructive to replace
tags understandable without any external tools with tags that require
external tools, i.e. to remove wikipedia tags in favour of wikidata tags.

Best regards,


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