- In the beginning there was landuse=farm (somebody slapped this tag onto the embryonic wiki tag docs) It wasn't clear if this meant farmyard and farming fields, or just farmyard, but in the beginning we weren't that fussed.
- A new tag landuse=farmyard was introduced causing some confusion. Most people switched their understanding of landuse=farm to mean not the farmyard but rather the whole areas of farming fields (if that wasn't their understanding already), but it all got documented in a fairly half-assed way.
- Upset by this situation some people decided to solve it with a new tag proposal which would entail moving old mapping data to conform to a new scheme (always a bad idea, or at least... always an idea requiring careful justification). The hope was that people would move from landuse=farm to landuse=farmland thereby eliminating any problematic old landuse=farm uses which were actually drawn around farmland. However they failed to explain this justification properly at the time, merely stating that landuse=farm was "ambiguous"
- Some people (me in particular) were irritated by this seemingly unnecessary new proposal, but the situation wasn't resolved quickly.
- Naturally other people were sticking their oars in with suggestions like landuse=agriculture, and Proposed features/agricultural Field (there is always a background noise of unnecessary tag proposals on the wiki) These similarly declared that landuse=farm was "ambiguous" without explaining it properly.
- Later I had many conversations trying to explain the word farm and get to the bottom of why landuse=farm was "ambiguous". I noticed that support for the tag seemed to be stronger among german mappers, and wondered if there was a language issue. Something to do with their use of the word.
- The landuse=farm documentation was becoming clearer over time. Mappers were naturally moving away from using landuse=farm where it should be landuse=farmyard, so the original justification (which was never explained) was becoming weaker, lost in the mists of time. Despite this, because the proposal had been in place and linked for a long time, adoption of the landuse=farmland proposed tag was also on the increase. This was particularly true in the german mapping community who had documented DE:Tag:landuse=farmland and were largely ignoring my discussions on the english wiki.
- At some point the JOSM developers (many germans) incorporated landuse=farmland into their tagging presets, which significantly fuels adoption
- I made a concerted effort to document landuse=farm with a pretty diagram, to make it absolutely clear that landuse=farmland was a proposal to represent the exact same thing we already had a tag for. Eventually I put the question very directly. "What's wrong with landuse=farm?"
- Over the past year, adoption of the unnecessary landuse=farmland tag continued to grow. Supporters of the tag didn't feel the need to answer my question, or indeed explain to anyone else on the proposal page, why the tag needed to exist.
- Potlatch developers mainly look at usage stats when deciding what tags to including as presets. It's trendy nowadays to disregard any concept of a "proposal" process, so they wouldn't even have seen any objections raised. It's just a tag that a lot of mappers are using. As such the tag is added to Potlatch presets and more mappers start using it.
And so it is that we drift into a situation where we have two widely adopted tags for farm fields.
If I take step back now, and put aside my irritation about the fact that this was always an unnecessary duplicating tag proposal, try to judge both tags on their merits. I can see that mentioning 'land' helps people be clearer about what the tag is for, although landuse=farmland is ugly because it actually has the word 'land' in it twice. landuse=farm is shorter and easier to type. But to be honest it's 50/50. Much of a muchness. I don't really care. It's just a shame that we have two tags.
As an aside... it's also a shame that the very concept of mapping farm land is completely nuts! Personally I don't actually add any farm data to the map myself because it doesn't make sense to me: Talk:Tag:landuse=farm#Very large swathes of land. Until that problem is solved (and I don't know what the solution is) farm mapping has a bizarre completeness problem. Odd patchy farm coverage just looks ugly as hell in the default Mapnik rendering. In my opinion neither tag should be rendered unless/until somebody can explain how it should be mapped.
I'm having a grumpy old fart moment again aren't I?