[OSM-talk] Tagging Governance

Mikel Maron mikel.maron at gmail.com
Thu Sep 12 14:20:43 UTC 2019

Fascinating discussion, thanks for all participating. The tension between an open community and standards of practice has always been the key dynamic of OSM.
What I think has changed as OSM has grown and accreted code, data, and culture is ..  less opportunity to just do it. Like many things in those days, Map Features page came about at the initiative of one person (Andy Robinson https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/dev/2005-November/000450.html), with close consultation within a relatively small community.
The closest I think we can get in 2019 is (as has been suggested?) asking a smaller group to dig into the topic, come up with guidelines, recommendations, a plan, to share for further discussion with the broader community. This is essentially the model of OSMF working groups -- and I think a working group looking particularly at tagging could be a good idea, but also understand that not everyone thinks this should be under the umbrella as an official org. If the idea of a smaller group seems sensible, then the particulars of how to bring it together is something else we can talk about.


p.s. Getting off topic but did want to respond to Christoph's assertion
> There are no  interface specifications and unit tests in text writing. 

Interestingly, I have seen this work well. It's possible to define some writing standards in code, and run unit tests on them, to maintain consistency of structure and terminology. For a simple example, we once had tests for the Mapbox blog (published in markdown) to warn about usage of the "OSM" abbreviation (preference was to fully spell out OpenStreetMap).
On Thursday, September 12, 2019, 7:59 AM, Christoph Hormann <osm at imagico.de> wrote:

On Thursday 12 September 2019, Roland Olbricht wrote:
> Thus the question is: are contradictions between pages a problem? If
> yes then a holisitic toolset may do better, if not then the holistic
> tool has no advantage in this regard.

Yes they are but it is unrealistic in practical work on any text 
document of considerable size to keep it contradiction free at all 

For writing any larger body of text collaboratively you will need to 
compartmentalize to some extent and have different people focus on 
different parts of the whole thing and coordination between those will 
need to happen through human evaluation and human communication.

Being able to keep an eye on the whole while working on the details is 
one of the core qualifications necessary for this.  There are no 
interface specifications and unit tests in text writing.  There is also 
usually a significant benefit in terms of clarity and readability of 
text if there is clear individual authorship on the level of individul 
sections or chapters.  If you mix different styles of writing on a too 
fine grained level that often has a negative effect on text quality.

As Frederik said the idea to approach this with "Lets use technology X 
in combination with technology Y and everything else is going to fall 
into place" is not going to work.

The real hurdle here is to set up an editorial baseline of guiding 
principles and goals and find qualified people willing to contribute to 
such a project under these principles in the long term.  And this is 
not something you can bootstrap from open community discourse and 
consensus because then it would be no different from what we already 
have on the wiki with all the cacophony of different contradicting 
interests and opinions.

Therefore this idea of a curated body of tagging documentation can only 
be a contribution to open community discourse and governance on 
tagging, it cannot be the result of it.

Christoph Hormann

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