Crimea dispute

Posted by ika-chan! on 2 December 2018 in English (English).

I have not really been following the OSM dispute over the borders of Crimea for health reasons, but I think that the problem lies with how we portray disputed borders and how we are not really providing the appropriate tag schemes to make it easy for data users to portray borders as they see fit.

I do not know if anyone is considering proposing the appropriate tag schemes that make it easy for data users to portray borders as they see fit, instead of arguing over the “on the ground” rule and whether Crimea belongs to Ukraine, Russia or the Isle of Wight (hint: they are both diamond shaped).

As for OSM-carto, the stylesheet should be truly neutral, showing all disputed borders as a dotted line version of the relevant administrative level.

There is a real danger of the project falling apart if we keep limiting ourselves to choosing one side over another. There are people like me who just want to make maps, instead of arguing over politics, and in my case, putting my already fragile mental health in danger.

Meanwhile, how do we get Nominatim to recognise Bir Tawil (3335661) as not part of any country?

Comment from mrunner on 2 December 2018 at 16:30

I agree with you. There are many disputed borders and areas around the world. OSM as neutral platform should in clear manner and objectively preset how border lines are seen from any party included that claims the land or the sea. If we follow practice as it is now: de-facto control over the area, we stumble at the same problem, some areas are in conflict and there is no de-facto control, on other hand if OSM present one border as the only possible one that means it is getting biased and discriminatory.

So if goal of OSM is to present world as it is as accurate as possible, it shouldn’t close its eyes from real problems that are border disputes.

Comment from alexkemp on 3 December 2018 at 01:19

Well, as someone that declares themselves to have fragile mental health, I think that your suggestion is the most sensible that I have seen so far.

Comment from escada on 3 December 2018 at 10:08

If you would follow the tagging mailing list, you would see that there are currently 2 proposals. BTW, one of them started from an earlier proposal that was not “finished”. This means that the community is aware of the problem for some longer period, but it is difficult to define a solution that covers all kind of claims.

Comment from ᚛ᚐᚋᚐᚅᚇᚐ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 4 December 2018 at 16:09

There should be a way to map disputed borders & claims in OSM, I have one proposal.

OSM uses an “on the ground rule” and maps countries (admin_level=2) based on de facto control (which puts Crimea in Russia), and no matter what other tagging scheme is used, I’m sure this policy’s effect here will upset people, and I don’t know if there’s a way to solve that. I haven’t seen any suggested alternative to the “on the ground” rule.

Comment from alexkemp on 4 December 2018 at 16:35


Your proposal seems sound & sane from a fast read. I would also expect it to (possibly) solve the main problem, which is to avoid escalating edit wars + authoritarian stances/actions by the DWG.

To attempt to express it (to test that I’ve got it right), the proposal is to add extra tags to the type=boundary relation as to allow multiple claims to co-exist. These tags would be boundary=claimed_administrative + claimed:admin_level=* + according_to:*=yes/no (where ‘*’ == country-code).

This would then require follow-up on the rendering applied for the different claims on disputed borders, possibly as suggested in ika-chan!’s post.

A good start.

Comment from Kilkenni on 7 December 2018 at 20:51

Sounds sensible. I already participate in the discussion over “disputed territories” proposal and encourage you to do the same. Your input is highly welcome.

Oh, and please, get well :)

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