OpenStreetMap

I’m a bit confused by the highest level tags… what is the thinking behind them? Probably this has grown without too much coordination, but it is leading to a mess.

Should there not be some order/thinking/philosophy to them?

For example

highway= .. is tagging a thing.

amenity= is tagging a function/service.

Would it not be best to adopt one order/thinking/philosophy/system and stick to it? I think the present tags have evolved from different points of view and would be best reorganized, but before that happens some guide lines need to be established as to the order/thinking/philosophy/system that should be used. That would help people proposing new tags .. that would fit in with the system, rather than confuse it further.

If highway= were to be tagged as a service then it would be transportation=motorway, primary_highway, railway, ferry etc.

If amenity=drinking_water were to be tagged as a thing then it could be tagged as water=blubber(,sea, river, pipe, tap, )

Thoughts? I’ve raised the issue on the tagging talk group too.

Discussion

Comment from jgpacker on 14 January 2015 at 10:44

Indeed these tags were created in a decentralized way, without much coordination. I’m afraid it’s impossible to change the most popular tags, even if the resulting scheme made some sense. That’s because a considerable number of data consumers (the services that use OSM) depend on some tags being the way they are right now. New proposed tags are encouraged to follow the same scheme as previous tags.

Comment from Sanderd17 on 14 January 2015 at 11:36

IMO, the main problem is with the amenity one. That category is just too broad, and many attempts have been done to get tags away from amenity=*

Apart from that, it’s indeed true that there are tags for physical stuff, tags for restrictions, tags for services, … But I don’t see a problem in that, as long that the keys are not too broad, so you know from the key if something is physical or not.

Other strange things include keys that are used mainly (or only) to represent ways and are in some cases used on nodes or on areas. Think of highway=traffic_lights, or waterway=riverbank.

But in any case, mechanical edits are not allowed for this purpose. So if you want to change something, you have to change all tools, all data users, and the entire community.

Comment from escada on 14 January 2015 at 20:08

I fear that the next overloaded key will be man_made. It seems like everything is going into that group these tags: street_cabinet, (water_)tap

Some things like windmill or watermill belong under building IMHO. It’s pretty hard to tag a windmill that is no longer used for its original purpose, but as a house. Same problem for water towers

Comment from Warin61 on 14 January 2015 at 21:29

Frederick left this comment on the tagging talk group.. I like it.

======================================================= There is no basic philosophy at the top level from which everything else can be derived. It’s like evolution - some things are a bit strange but you can often understand them by looking at how they came to be.

There is a tendency however to tag for

What things are? eg highways

simply because something can always have side effects that are not related to the primary purpose, or the primary purpose is not immediately obvious.

For example, a motorway is not only a transport feature, it is also an insurmountable barrier for pedestrians or cyclists.

Tagging is very often based on what you see, not what you know. If you see a body of water (and you might be doing that from aerial imagery, sitting 1000s of miles away), you tag it as a body of water even if you don’t know whether this is an artificial reservoir that supplies drinking water or a crater lake or anything else. Tagging

What things are used for? eg amenity

might require more knowledge than the mapper has, especially in the case of mapping from aerial imagery. =================================================

More comments/ideas please?

Comment from RobJN on 14 January 2015 at 23:56

My top tip for OSM (or any aspect of life for that matter), is to pick your battles. Changing tags that have been around for ages and are used a lot to establish a better order/philosophy/system is too big a battle. Don’t waste your time on it as it will never change. Smaller battles are achievable - focus on those :-)

Comment from stragu on 15 January 2015 at 02:38

Hopefully at some stage we will have some kind of redirecting system for tags, so changes can be made gradually without breaking anything. That’s my hopeful contribution to the discussion.

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