[OSM-talk] Tagging Governance

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Tue Sep 10 14:54:54 UTC 2019

Am 10.09.2019 um 16:08 schrieb Bryan Housel:
> Simon you’re completely wrong about this, but I doubt there is anything that I can say that would change your mind.  The "US-corporate bubble" does not care about the tags used by the iD presets as much as you think they do.  

I don't think I remotely implied that the actual tags were at question
in this case.

> The decisions we make in iD with the tags are mostly because 1. someone asked us to in a ticket or pull request, and we try to give people what they want..  or 2. we are trying to solve an actual problem - for example, the explicit tagging of piers and platforms came from us trying to detect routing islands (we rolled this back when people complained).  
Well that is a -slight- simplification of what happened. We can
partially follow it here
Except that we don't even know why in the end the changes were reverted,
insight? External pressure? Or what? Obviously it wasn't just people
complaining or else it would have been far earlier.
> Anyway, good luck with tagging.  When you frame the discussion this way, don’t be surprised when we are reluctant to participate.

If there was more upfront transparency and discussion then likely the
whole thing likely wouldn't be needed. I'm not saying there wouldn't be
any disagreement, but it would be centred around the actual changes and
not around your behaviour which is what in the end is causing the high


> Bryan
>> On Sep 10, 2019, at 9:55 AM, Simon Poole <simon at poole.ch> wrote:
>> Roland
>> I can't help noticing that you are tiptoeing a bit around the actual
>> issue which started the whole discussion: unilateral changes by the iD
>> maintainers (everybody else doesn't have enough leverage to enforce
>> their position, so it is not me specifically picking on them, it is
>> simply a consequence of the power they can wield). And these changes are
>> not just questions of which tags to use, but far more fundamental
>> questions, for example implicit vs. explicit tagging (which seems to be
>> something the US-corporate bubble whispered to them, likely that unknown
>> organisations holding the purse strings).
>> If you don't address that I'm not quite sure what the point of the whole
>> discussion is.
>> Simon
>> Am 10.09.2019 um 06:50 schrieb Roland Olbricht:
>>> Hi all,
>>> I have got into the duty to talk about tagging governance on the SotM
>>> and I would like to develop that opportunity towards something that is
>>> rather helpful in the long term.
>>> To ensure that I am on the right track and not unintentionally after a
>>> personal agenda I would like to ask you to comment on the findings so
>>> far listed below.
>>> To encourage a widespread discussion, I have spread this message on
>>> German and French lists as well (these two because I understand the
>>> languages) and will do so in addition on the tagging list. Feel free to
>>> spread this message further as long as you remember to channel back all
>>> feedback.
>>> Imperfect Flow of Information
>>> Although many parts of the OpenStreetMap project are well translated,
>>> the tagging documentation has substantial deficiencies. Over a random
>>> sample of 10 tags the number of declared languages varies between 2 and
>>> 18, but only few are complete and up to date (sample: 2 of 10 for
>>> German, 3 of 10 for French).
>>> Another kind of imperfect information flow is that tag definitions can
>>> be changed on the wiki page long after the tag is in widespread use.
>>> The converse case that a tag is introduced without any documentation is
>>> also happening. While this happens by ordinary users usually slow enough
>>> to make sense of the added data, an import or organized edit might be
>>> able to substantially skew the de facto meaning of a tag, regardless
>>> whether it is in widespread use, documented, both, or none.
>>> More Structure needed
>>> The translation issues have been conflated with a different problem:
>>> Different features may look very different between regions. E.g.
>>> highway=primary and highway=unclassfied versus highway=track
>>> need different sets of examples in Germany and the urban US on the one
>>> hand and Iceland or rural Africa on the other. It is easy to mix this
>>> with the translation into the predominant language in the area,
>>> but the tagging challenges in Belgium, Canada, and Niger are
>>> substantially different, although all three countries happen to have
>>> French as official language. Conversely, there is no sane reason to
>>> change tagging rules every block of houses in Brussels.
>>> Additionally, people often have different search terms than the British
>>> English tag names or their translations, and the wiki search engine is
>>> infamous for its bad performance. Having explicit keywords to direct the
>>> attention of a mapper to the list of possibly fitting tags might help.
>>> A substantial problem source of the concept of proposals is
>>> that it interacts with lots of tags in a nontrivial way and is
>>> practically never properly applied to all affected tag definitions.
>>> A proposal currently is an extra page although it should have much more
>>> an impact like a Git commit, grouping changes across various tag
>>> definition pages in a single changeset.
>>> Legitimacy and Governance
>>> What legitimation has a process if only a handful of people have that
>>> have the time to write mails on a mailing list and to write wiki pages
>>> are involved? In particular, if the proposals end up as being full of
>>> contradictions or vague terms and leave necessary answers undefined.
>>> Yet these still are the people that have shown the necessary long-term
>>> endurance to assure maintenance and that do the work. Thus every change
>>> to replace processes with better processes must be geared towards
>>> broadening not narrowing the base of long-term maintainers.
>>> Conversely, I fully understand mappers that are wary of sudden changes
>>> in the rendering or the access to tags in edting software. A lot of
>>> people whould probably appreciate to better understand what happens on
>>> the way from a tag discussion to a final change in the renderer or
>>> editing software. These processes are not secret, but often
>>> under-documented.
>>> Again, the various discussion channels and the lacking information flow
>>> between them contribute to the bad mood. Even worse, the ratio between
>>> people and channels means that evil or just plainly incompetent people
>>> could easily take over some channels and contribute substantially to the
>>> confusion. Good ideas how to redirect people and close down some of the
>>> channels (e.g. wiki discussion pages) might be worth pursuing. On top of
>>> that the wiki history is so much less helpful than what developers are
>>> nowadays used to from version control systems that borrowing methaphors
>>> and paradigms from there to the tag documentation is worth consideration.
>>> This hopefully helps to foster that the authors of the documentation and
>>> the mappers using a tag actually agree on its meaning.
>>> Best regards,
>>> Roland
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> talk mailing list
>>> talk at openstreetmap.org
>>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
>> _______________________________________________
>> talk mailing list
>> talk at openstreetmap.org
>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk

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