OpenStreetMap

To name or not to name ...

Posted by SimonPoole on 5 September 2021 in English (English).

As a rule of thumb, the primary name would be the most obvious name of the feature, the one that end users expect data consumers to expose in a label or other interface element.

From the OSM wiki Key:name

I’m currently tidying up a couple of loose ends in preparation for the release of version 16 of Vespucci. One of those dangling bits was supporting the new format of the name-suggestion-index (NSI).

The NSI was conceived back in 2013 by Aaron Lidman as a list of canonical name spellings for chains of stores, restaurants and other similar facilities, most notably for use in iD. Vespucci has supported use of the NSI nearly since day one, see a diary post from 2014 (this works quite differently in current Vespucci versions). Since then it has morphed to a, supposedly, authoritative source of tagging for a very wide range of objects. Some would say that the current version has expanded its reach far beyond what is actually useful (flagpoles ffs), but that is not the topic of this post.

Prior to the release of iD 2.20 the NSI had been in a long period of stasis with updates being made to the data, but these were not actually being deployed and given the larger format changes I had all but forgotten about it and the data in Vespucci was really old. However over the last couple of months some colleagues pointed out some weird behavior in Vespucci and iD when using NSI generated presets for tagging. In particular name tags are being added to things like excrement bag dispensers and automated postal package depots.

Now which objects to add a name tag too has a slightly controversial history in OSM, and this predates the NSI. Particularly when tagging facilities (shops, restaurants etc) belonging to chains it can be argued that they shouldn’t have individual names and the brand tag should suffice. On the other hand I don’t think larger parts of the community are actually uncomfortable with adding a name tag to a McDonald’s and I would speculate that this is what in common usage would be considered its name.

However I believe there are numerous things that are commonly not named and that should generally not have name tags automatically added, particularly when they are the same as the brand. Examples would be ATMs, vending machines and similar small mechanical facilities. To determine the scope of the issue I ran a quick analysis on the current NSI contents and this is what came out:

Tag Entries         Entries with
name
Entries with
name=brand
       
amenity=animal_boarding 2 2 2
amenity=animal_shelter 2 2 1
amenity=atm 905 896 883
amenity=bank 899 891 878
amenity=bar 4 4 3
amenity=bicycle_parking 2 2 1
amenity=bicycle_rental 316 65 65
amenity=bureau_de_change 10 10 10
amenity=cafe 195 195 189
amenity=car_rental 17 17 17
amenity=car_sharing 67 0 0
amenity=car_wash 21 21 18
amenity=casino 3 3 3
amenity=charging_station 338 26 25
amenity=childcare 10 10 9
amenity=cinema 66 66 63
amenity=clinic 110 17 0
amenity=college 2 2 2
amenity=dentist 16 16 15
amenity=doctors 4 4 3
amenity=drinking_water 86 1 0
amenity=fast_food 470 468 458
amenity=ferry_terminal 34 1 0
amenity=fire_station 298 0 0
amenity=fuel 453 453 441
amenity=gambling 1 1 1
amenity=hospital 174 8 0
amenity=ice_cream 43 43 42
amenity=internet_cafe 8 8 8
amenity=karaoke_box 7 7 7
amenity=kindergarten 14 14 14
amenity=language_school 15 15 15
amenity=money_transfer 7 7 7
amenity=motorcycle_rental 1 1 1
amenity=music_school 1 1 1
amenity=parking 43 20 18
amenity=payment_centre 4 4 4
amenity=payment_terminal 8 8 7
amenity=pharmacy 269 267 262
amenity=police 221 0 0
amenity=post_box 141 0 0
amenity=post_depot 10 7 0
amenity=post_office 141 0 0
amenity=prep_school 10 10 10
amenity=pub 35 24 24
amenity=public_bookcase 1 1 1
amenity=recycling 16 16 14
amenity=restaurant 364 357 349
amenity=school 10 6 5
amenity=social_centre 9 9 1
amenity=social_facility 21 17 16
amenity=university 3 3 3
amenity=vehicle_inspection 18 18 18
amenity=vending_machine 73 73 67
amenity=veterinary 6 6 4
craft=bakery 1 1 1
craft=carpenter 1 1 1
craft=cleaning 3 3 3
craft=electronics_repair 6 6 6
craft=plumber 4 4 4
craft=signmaker 2 2 2
craft=window_construction 1 1 1
emergency=ambulance_station 57 0 0
emergency=lifeboat_station 9 0 0
emergency=phone 72 0 0
healthcare=audiologist 1 1 1
healthcare=blood_donation 7 7 7
healthcare=counselling 2 2 2
healthcare=laboratory 37 37 35
healthcare=optometrist 2 2 2
healthcare=pharmacy 1 1 1
healthcare=physiotherapist 1 1 1
healthcare=sample_collection 4 4 4
highway=bus_stop 1654 0 0
landuse=residential 1 1 1
leisure=adult_gaming_centre 6 6 6
leisure=amusement_arcade 5 5 5
leisure=bowling_alley 5 5 5
leisure=dog_park 1 1 0
leisure=escape_game 1 1 1
leisure=fitness_centre 62 62 61
leisure=indoor_play 3 3 3
leisure=playground 2 2 1
leisure=sports_centre 9 8 7
leisure=trampoline_park 1 1 1
man_made=flagpole 360 0 0
office=bail_bond_agent 1 1 1
office=consulting 6 6 6
office=coworking 9 9 9
office=employment_agency 15 15 15
office=energy_supplier 8 8 8
office=estate_agent 81 81 80
office=financial 5 5 4
office=financial_advisor 4 4 4
office=insurance 110 110 108
office=moving_company 2 2 2
office=security 1 1 1
office=tax_advisor 5 5 5
office=telecommunication 15 15 15
power=generator 617 0 0
power=line 521 0 0
power=minor_line 523 0 0
power=plant 146 0 0
power=substation 807 0 0
power=transformer 807 0 0
route=aerialway 1 0 0
route=bus 1654 0 0
route=ferry 34 1 0
route=light_rail 27 0 0
route=power 71 0 0
route=subway 91 0 0
route=train 203 0 0
route=tram 88 0 0
route=trolleybus 53 0 0
route=walking_bus 1 0 0
shop=agrarian 5 5 3
shop=alcohol 57 57 56
shop=anime 6 6 6
shop=art 2 2 2
shop=baby_goods 13 13 13
shop=bag 10 10 10
shop=bakery 149 148 146
shop=beauty 27 27 25
shop=bed 21 21 20
shop=beverages 19 19 19
shop=bicycle 15 15 15
shop=boat 1 1 1
shop=bookmaker 16 16 16
shop=books 87 87 85
shop=butcher 13 13 12
shop=camera 3 3 3
shop=candles 1 1 1
shop=car 70 70 70
shop=car_parts 31 30 30
shop=car_repair 87 87 86
shop=carpet 3 3 3
shop=catalogue 1 1 1
shop=charity 38 38 36
shop=chemist 40 40 40
shop=chocolate 12 12 12
shop=clothes 597 595 589
shop=coffee 3 3 3
shop=computer 12 12 12
shop=confectionery 30 30 27
shop=convenience 361 359 348
shop=copyshop 8 8 8
shop=cosmetics 38 38 38
shop=country_store 15 15 15
shop=craft 8 8 8
shop=curtain 1 1 1
shop=dairy 3 3 2
shop=deli 8 8 8
shop=department_store 93 91 88
shop=doityourself 85 84 81
shop=doors 2 2 2
shop=dry_cleaning 14 14 14
shop=e-cigarette 9 9 9
shop=electrical 4 4 4
shop=electronics 98 97 96
shop=erotic 5 5 5
shop=fabric 5 5 5
shop=fashion_accessories 11 11 10
shop=fishing 2 2 2
shop=flooring 2 2 2
shop=florist 9 9 9
shop=frame 1 1 1
shop=frozen_food 6 6 6
shop=funeral_directors 11 11 11
shop=furniture 107 104 103
shop=games 1 1 1
shop=garden_centre 20 18 16
shop=gas 3 3 3
shop=general 1 0 0
shop=gift 20 20 19
shop=greengrocer 4 4 4
shop=hairdresser 56 56 54
shop=hairdresser_supply 5 5 5
shop=hardware 20 19 19
shop=health_food 6 6 6
shop=hearing_aids 14 14 13
shop=herbalist 1 1 1
shop=hifi 6 6 6
shop=household_linen 4 4 4
shop=houseware 41 41 41
shop=interior_decoration 14 14 14
shop=jewelry 70 70 70
shop=kiosk 13 13 13
shop=kitchen 17 17 17
shop=laundry 5 5 5
shop=leather 4 4 4
shop=locksmith 3 3 3
shop=lottery 10 10 10
shop=mall 9 9 9
shop=massage 6 6 6
shop=medical_supply 5 5 4
shop=mobile_phone 95 93 88
shop=money_lender 19 18 18
shop=motorcycle 14 10 10
shop=motorcycle_repair 3 3 3
shop=music 5 5 5
shop=musical_instrument 4 4 4
shop=newsagent 24 24 23
shop=nutrition_supplements 5 5 5
shop=optician 70 70 68
shop=outdoor 27 27 26
shop=outpost 2 2 2
shop=paint 9 8 8
shop=party 1 1 1
shop=pastry 7 7 7
shop=pawnbroker 19 19 18
shop=perfumery 16 16 16
shop=pet 42 42 42
shop=photo 9 9 9
shop=pottery 1 1 1
shop=printer_ink 1 1 1
shop=pyrotechnics 1 1 1
shop=rental 5 5 5
shop=repair 2 2 2
shop=seafood 2 2 2
shop=second_hand 9 8 8
shop=shoes 145 145 142
shop=spices 1 1 1
shop=sports 52 52 52
shop=stationery 18 18 17
shop=storage_rental 14 14 13
shop=supermarket 676 671 649
shop=swimming_pool 1 1 1
shop=tailor 1 1 1
shop=tea 6 6 6
shop=telecommunication 23 23 20
shop=ticket 6 6 6
shop=tiles 3 3 3
shop=tobacco 4 4 4
shop=tool_hire 5 5 5
shop=toys 34 34 33
shop=trade 20 15 14
shop=travel_agency 36 36 36
shop=tyres 29 29 27
shop=vacuum_cleaner 2 2 2
shop=variety_store 63 63 62
shop=video 4 4 3
shop=video_games 7 7 7
shop=watches 8 8 8
shop=wholesale 10 10 9
shop=wine 2 2 2
tourism=caravan_site 7 7 2
tourism=hotel 127 125 118
tourism=motel 8 8 8
       
TOTALS 18568 8853 8594

While there are a couple of weird entries, landuse=residential?, that warrant closer inspection, most seem to be inline with with current tagging practice. The exceptions would seem to be the already mentioned ATMs and vending machines, and then for example payment terminals, charging stations, bicycle parking and so on, that commonly shouldn’t have names. Note that the total is one less than the current number of entries in the NSI for reasons that could justify their own post.

But my take on this might just be too strongly influenced by my mainly Western European cultural background and I would be interested in hearing thoughts from all on this matter.

PS: Vespucci 16 programmatically removes some of the name tags before use, but obviously it would be better to have the source data reflect actual best practice.

Comment from gileri on 5 September 2021 at 13:43

Thank you for your analysis !

I see that you suggest, with the fast-food example, to use the brand name as the name=*. Wouldn’t the name used in the chain’s website, bills, internal and communication be better suited ?

I’m of the opinion (and the Osmose QA project) that names should be in most part unique. Outside OSM, that’s precisely the goal of most names : to differentiate things/persons.

Comment from imagico on 5 September 2021 at 13:58

Well - evidently OSM-Carto has a huge part in encouraging (ab)use of the name tag as a generic label tag by labeling the tagged name (any in many cases only the tagged name) on almost everything no matter if it is common for the type of feature to have a name in the strict sense.

But at least for amenity=atm OSM-Carto is not at fault (because it has been labeling ‘operator’ since adding ATMs in 2015).

Regarding cultural bias - i have made the experience that the distinction between the abstract concepts of a name, a brand, an operator or a description and the broader concept of a label is difficult for many to make. We (as technically minded western Europeans) think of the name as a more or less unique identifier for a specific individual feature (unique at least on a regional level, in many cases beyond that - and if not we like to add additional qualifiers, like Freiburg im Breisgau). But for many the name is just what we use language-wise to refer to a specific feature, like I visited place X and i stayed at the Holiday Inn or I will go buy some stuff at Lidl - which we would classify as a label. In principle i think a good solution might be to actually have a label=* tag meant broadly for any string that is used locally to refer to the feature in question while the more specific existing tags retain their more specific meaning for any mapper who wants to and is able to tag in a more differentiated fashion. This would allow data users to select the most specific form of information they need available but have the less specific data as a fallback.

Regarding landuse=residential - it is a fairly common practice to tag landuse=residential + place=* + name=* for smaller settlements or suburbs/neighborhoods. See https://taginfo.openstreetmap.org/tags/landuse=residential#combinations

Comment from SimonPoole on 5 September 2021 at 14:07

The landuse=residential entry is for a commercial provider of apartments, brand Avalon see https://github.com/osmlab/name-suggestion-index/blob/main/data/brands/landuse/residential.json

Comment from SimonPoole on 5 September 2021 at 14:11

@gileri wrote

I see that you suggest, with the fast-food example, to use the brand name as the name=*.

I’m not suggesting that, just pointing out that that is the current common practice.

Comment from gileri on 5 September 2021 at 14:38

it can be argued that they shouldn’t have individual names

On the other hand I don’t think larger parts of the community are actually uncomfortable with adding a name tag to a McDonald’s and I would speculate that this is what in common usage would be considered its name

You’re right, but it looks like your opinion (and therefore suggestion) seem clear to me with this wording.

Not a huge deal, it’s just that this issue has and still cost me (and surely others) a lot of contributor time to remove/fix names that are only brands.

Anyway thank you for the data !

Comment from Mathias Haugsbø on 26 October 2021 at 08:42

@gileri I suggest you collect some insights into what you would like to have in the name field in france in your OSM community and post an issue to https://github.com/osmlab/name-suggestion-index . We did this in Scandinavia as we would like the name field to be as specific as possible (and it is the cultural norm to say “McDonald’s Bryggen” instead of just having “McDonald’s” in the name field).

See https://github.com/osmlab/name-suggestion-index/issues/5500 for our issue on this topic.

The maintainers of NSI is quick to respond and will always work towards a solution - For us it was to add “preserveTags: [‘^name’]” to the config such that the name field was not overwritten


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