OpenStreetMap

Is it usually difficult to come to a local concensus on tagging?

Posted by GnasherNF on 12 June 2018 in English (English)

I have been happily adding rural roadways to OSM for a few years now. Recently, another user has been systematically retagging/reclassifying many of the roadways I have originally added to the database, essentially flattening multiple types of road into a single type of road (changing secondary, tertiary and unclassified roads into all tracks).

It wouldn't bother me so much if the other user was helping to fill in unmapped areas, but it seems all they are doing is chasing and changing my work.

The user did not attempt to contact me to ask why I tagged things the way I did, so I contacted them and explained my reasoning and asked if we could come to an agreement.

The response was simply to tell me I was wrong and to point me at specific OSM wiki pages. When I quoted sections that agreed with my tagging methods, I was still wrong.

The other user even opened a forum topic to specifically point the finger at me and say I was doing things the wrong way, and to ask others their opinion. A step in the right direction, except the user ignored comments that agreed with my methods and took any that agreed with theirs as total validation.

Let me point out that neither of us is technically wrong, according to information on multiple wiki pages.

As a result of the discussions, I have changed the way I tag rural roadways and have clearly stated my methods on my profile page. I have explained my reasoning in direct messages and on the forums, but this other user persists in changing my original work.

Have any of you run into an issue like this before, and were you able to resolve it?

Comment from Glassman on 12 June 2018 at 16:10

Working through disputes is difficult, especially when its a subjective evaluation. You might want to compare your work to how others map similar objects in Newfoundland or in Canada. That would give you a better understanding of what the norm is in your country.

If your province or local government agency publishes open data on roads, you might want to compare how roads are tagged in OSM against the government tagging.

I looked at one of your tertiary classified ways. To me it looked like a highway=service. It extended only a few meters from an unclassified way to a small building.

To me a tertiary in rural areas is a road that connects small villages and hamlets. Around me, a tertiary might have a wider shoulder than an unclassified road, but not always.

Comment from GnasherNF on 12 June 2018 at 16:25

Thank you for your comments. The Bowater Resource Road at https://www.openstreetmap.org/#map=15/48.9899/-54.9031 is a better example of what I now classify as a tertiary way. The example you provided was indeed a mis-classification.

Comment from SomeoneElse on 12 June 2018 at 18:43

Is it usually difficult to come to a local concensus on tagging?

The short answer is "yes". It can be particularly tricky when there are relatively few mappers in an area, and so less chance to see other people's views on how best to tag certain sorts of objects. Generally speaking the way to resolve these sorts of issues is to talk about them, but there has to be an amount of give and take - sometimes in OSM discussions there (and I'm thinking of this tagging list thread in particular here) there isn't.

There currently seems to be a bit of a discussion going on in the forum thread at the moment, but there aren't that many people there (and especially not many Canadians). The Canadian country forum is also very quiet. There's a bit more at the talk-ca mailing list; maybe try there?

On the tagging itself, the only other thing that I'd add would be to try and capture as much other information as possible to give renderers a chance of making a decent job of the road regardless of classification (surface, width, that sort of thing).

Comment from Warin61 on 13 June 2018 at 00:03

Passion is good. The problem is when passions conflict.

The problem with 'track' is that it has some many different meanings depending on a persons experience. A person that drives a sports car will have a different interpretation compared to someone who drives a 4WD.

And there will be different interpretations between countries. Putting that all together on one world wide map is difficult.

However for your circumstances .. https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Canadian_tagging_guidelines is a starting point. But it is not as clear as some https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Australian_Tagging_Guidelines#Road_Tagging

Good Luck. I think you have the correct approach ..not all 'dirt roads' are 'tracks'.

Comment from Warin61 on 13 June 2018 at 07:41

Arr found what I was looking for .. has photos .. much better. https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/East_Africa_Tagging_Guidelines#Roads_in_East_Africa

That might get some of your people thinking. I do like the elephant in the track photo, contrast it with the Tertiary road in Uganda. I think it demonstrates that the road condition is not what necessarily makes the road classification, but rather how the community use it, and that takes local knowledge rather than a simple satellite view.

Comment from GnasherNF on 13 June 2018 at 15:10

Thank you all for your comments. I will continue to research and adjust my tagging practices and try to meet current best practices. Although retired now, I used to design and install remote rural telecommunications systems in the areas I map, so I not only had to travel these areas, I had to analyze the terrain and interview the people that used them (outfitters, cabin owners, recreational travelers). That is why I insist there are roads of more importance than others, even if they look the same on an aerial map. OSM says on-the-ground knowledge is the primary goal, but it is difficult to convince someone of your ideas when they may not be obvious on a photo. I admit I have made classification mistakes in the past and can only hope to reduce the errors with more practice.

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