[OSM-talk] mapping outside Europe

Martin Constantino–Bodin martin.bodin at ens-lyon.org
Tue Jan 7 16:23:13 UTC 2020

> apart from the issue "international objects receive a tag 'name' with 
> an English value", there are other ways in which you see how we're 
> letting USA-UK patronize the rest.
> the latest example in my experience would be the 'sac_scale' tagging.  
> it comes from the SAC-CAS classification, of the Schweizer 
> Alpen-Club/Club Alpino Svizzero/Club Alpin Suisse/Club Alpin Svizzer, 
> yet OSM held the discussion in English, and it not only chose 
> `sac_scale` for the tag name, it also decided not to use the Swiss 
> codes T1..T6 (language independent), but the English version of the 
> human readable explanation for the codes: T1 
> (hiking/escursione/randonnée/Wandern) .. T6 (difficult alpine 
> hiking/escursione alpina difficile/randonnée alpine 
> difficile/schwieriges Alpinwandern).
> a more important issue (I would call it "mapping outside Europe", 
> hence the subject) is for me each and every (photo)graphic explanation 
> of the tagging values.  take `highway` 
> (https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Key:highway).  text are fine, 
> really, but the associated pictures seem all taken in Europe, or North 
> America, they have more chances to confuse the mapper based in Africa 
> or South America, than helping them.
> in Panama many roads are classified as 'camino de verano', they look 
> like highway:track, but are really highway:unclassified with an extra 
> indication for the months where they are expected to be passable.  
> maybe can be solved in the wiki by changing the link to the picture 
> into a link to several pictures, but I'm afraid that we need to 
> address this in the standard renderer as well: users also expect some 
> of the information to be reflected in the rendering, explaining why so 
> many mappers still use highway:track despite one repeating "don't map 
> for the renderer".
> in Morocco (and I guess elsewhere too) we have small towns with 
> undeveloped areas, crossed by paths with residential function, or 
> large cities with extremely narrow alleys, again with residential 
> function.  these have been solved by different mappers in different 
> ways, leading to very inconsistent mapping, in particular where there 
> isn't a local, assertive, mappers' community.  (Morocco and Panama are 
> two such cases, Colombia is much better in this aspect.)

Wow. That’s quite impressive examples. I fully agree that this 
Europe-centrism might lead to issues in the future. I remembered being 
quite confused when I first read the documentation for crossing ways, as 
they are all following UK’s naming system (which I’ve never heard 
before). They are well-documented, so I guess that it’s fine. But I 
understand what you mean: the “name” tag issue may not be the most 
relevant in this family of issues.

This might indicate that the people discussing in this mailing list are 
from a very specific background, possibly caused by the language of the 
mailing list itself.

At the same time, I have to admit that I don’t feel like there are that 
much pictures on the documentation. I was for instance surprised that 
there was no picture for the “minimap” tag in the wiki (I fixed this in 
the meantime ☺). So it might be something that we can easily improve 
step by step ☺

I’m not sure what to conclude here. I guess that being conscious of the 
Europe-centrism issue during discussions might help? Or that we may need 
to look for volunteers to complete the OSM wiki with additional pictures 
from non-Europe/North America? I will look at the pictures I took back 
to been I lived in Chile and Brazil… but as I wasn’t into OSM then, I 
won’t have much useful 😔​


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