[OSM-talk] Persian/Arabian Gulf Tagging

Bert -Araali- Van Opstal bert.araali.afritastic at gmail.com
Mon Jul 5 20:37:53 UTC 2021

This has been a long discussion reflecting different opinions and 
references, some inspired by religious, historical as political motives.
A reflection of how difficult it can be on some issues like names and 
boundaries, issues on which "the ground truth" as described by OSM and 
our wiki proves it lacks a proper and complete definition for these issues.
The time has come to find a compromise of how to proceed and if 
necessary adopt some definitions or descriptions even in the OSM wiki to 
narrow or avoid these issues in the future.

I didn't participate in the discussion so far but read all the mails and 
all the reference sources listed. So if you allow me let me try to conclude:

1. What key:name to use for this water body ?  Our wiki states that in 
case of doubt "the ground truth", meaning the habits of how to name a 
natural feature by the locals should prevail. But first of all, what 
water body are we talking about, the EEZ's or the international waters ? 
When it comes to the international waters there are no locals. No one 
lives there neither are the waters ruled or owned by any particular 
country.  So international waters follow the most common name used by 
the international "world wide" community. There is no better "official 
and authoritative" organisation to represent the international community 
as the UN.  So the most recent authoritative resource gazetting the name 
for the international waters should be used, being "Persian Gulf", in 
the key:name in English as the international language used. key:alt_name 
can be used for alternative names, used by some minorities in the "world 
community", so "Arabian Gulf;Gulf of Iran;Gulf of Basra" can be 
alternative names for the international waters. The resource I refer to: 
"Maritime Space: Maritime Zones and Maritime Delimitation" provided by 
the Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, Office of Legal 
Affairs, United Nations 

2. What key:name to use for the Iranian preference ? Local preferences 
can be applied to the waters or part of the water body controlled by a 
local authority.  So for the EEZ under Iranian jurisdiction the name 
should contain the official name as gazetted by the Iranian authorities: 
Persian Gulf written in Farsi. EEZ's of other countries, the Arabian 
countries can use name:Arabian Gulf or others in Arabic script for their 
respective EEZ's. The nodes or relations containing these names are 
located in or delineated to the EEZ's of those particular countries.

3. Translations. All translations should be a literal or applicable 
translation as the term described in the name fields. So if I consult 
any translated name of the international waters with the name "Persian 
Gulf" it reads "Persian Gulf" in a local language and script. Same 
applies to any translations for the alt_name field.

4. Alternative name fields. official_name for international water bodies 
are those used and gazetted by the UN, they should be the same as the 
key:name so should not be used for international waters.  official_name 
can be used if the name by the locals most commonly used in that EEZ is 
different from the official name. old_name can be used for names used 
for these water bodies (historical) from historical maps from before the 
existence of the UN.

We should not avoid anyone from changing the name fields. Vandalism is 
not allowed and we as a community, the world community should prevent 
and revert any vandalism, if it continues with the help of the DWG. So 
any name change should be accompanied with an appropriate reference to 
an authoritative source, for international waters this should be a 
direct resource or derived from the UN, for EEZ official gazetteers or 
databases from a country, for old_name applicable references to 
historical maps although I prefer not to store these in OSM, we have 
Open Historical Map for that.

The wiki about what "ground truth" means for disputed or sometimes 
non-tangible or physically verifiable items like names and boundaries 
should be improved, extended and clarified on the wiki.

Finally I wish to remember everyone that there are very few "rules" in 
OSM, we have guidelines, "ground truth" is a guideline not a rule, we 
are a free and open community. So if anyone feels to invent another name 
tag to express or clarify "disputed" names or boundaries other then a 
note field, feel free but find consensus from the community about it 
before you change it or start a tagging war.

Please, Ebrahim, you brought up the issue, summarize and conclude so we 
have a way forward.


Bert Araali

On 17/06/2021 22:00, Ebrahim Nejati via talk wrote:
> Today, I saw Persian Gulf's (rel:9326283) rendering is back to Arabian
> Gulf. The purpose of this message is not continuing the constant
> quarrel that which one is the correct name, but to explain my point of
> view.
> The `name` tags of this relation had been a translation of "Persian
> Gulf" in all languages except in Arabic. This is okay. Since OSM favors
> the situations "on the ground", local communities can decide the name of
> these regions.
> It was all good until recently a vandalist felt that this is wrong and
> repeatedly decided to change the `name:ar` from "Arabian Gulf" to
> "Persian Gulf". We in OpenStreetMap Iran Telegram group (most active
> place among Iranian mappers) discussed this issue and strongly condemned
> it.
> But now, after the vandalist's changesets has been reverted, the `name`
> tag of "Persian Gulf" is changed to "Arabian Gulf" while it is called
> "Persian Gulf" in all languages except Arabic. I'm here to ask how OSMF
> or Data Working Group decides the `name` tag of such places?
> ---
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf
> - Here is Persian Gulf's Wikipedia's page where it is called Persian
> Gulf in all languages but Arabic. You can also read more about this
> naming dispute here.
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shatt_al-Arab
> - Here is Shatt al-Arab wikipedia page, which I think has the opposite
> naming convention which it is called Shatt al-Arab in every language but
> in Persian, where it is "Arvand Roud"
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
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