[OSM-talk] Tagging Governance

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemed.net
Wed Sep 11 09:54:31 UTC 2019

Roland Olbricht wrote:
> Imperfect Flow of Information
> Although many parts of the OpenStreetMap project are well 
> translated, the tagging documentation has substantial deficiencies.

Yep. Documentation is the biggest problem with tagging.

I don't actually think it's the wiki per se that's the issue. The wiki is...
wiki-like. It's an untidy encyclopaedia of people's preoccupations at the
time they were moved to edit it. Yes, it does have problems: as you say,
"tag definitions being changed after the tag is in widespread use" (remember
the infamous edit that added access=no as a default for all barrier=
values?). But the challenge is bigger than that.

The main thing we're missing is curated, simple information on the main tags
that are _used_. Just as switch2osm took the infinite pages of install docs
on the wiki and boiled them down to one how-to, we need a simple guide to
the common tags in OSM: if you are a data consumer, these are the tags you
need to understand. Wikis don't work for this. It needs an
editor/curator/whatever, to have clear editorial guidelines, and probably to
run on the pull request model rather than open editing.

We're also missing a single-page explanation of OSM tagging principles. One
of the frustrations of watching this list is that there are quite a lot of
plain bad proposals that betray a misunderstanding of basic principles
(verifiability, rich meaningful tags, optimise for the mapper, no-one is
obliged to parse your new tag, etc. etc.). Life is too short to explain this
to everyone and, to be honest, the uber-keen tag proposer doesn't want to
hear their proposal rubbished in the first five minutes so won't listen
anyway. Writing down "this is how OSM tags work" would solve a lot of this


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