On of my professor at university quite often told us that “Marketing is bullshit”. He reasoned that marketing never tells you the whole truth. I guess everyone who ever watched an ad or read some marketing brochure tends to agree with him - except marketeers, of course.
Voting in OSM
What does this have to do with voting in OSM? The result of a vote has the same problem as marketing: it never tells you the whole truth. Ten, maybe twenty, sometimes even thirty hardcore mailing list and wiki writers gave their vote and decided for the rest of humanity, what to do and what not to do. But are those who voted really the ones who actually improve our data?
What if Joe Mapper thinks, that the approved tag does not fit his needs and he uses a different tag? We have an approved proposal, so we can replace his tag with the approved one - right? What if Joe Mapper proposed something and it was rejected, but he still uses the proposed tags? They were rejected so lets delete them - right?
Our core values
The foundation of OSM is that everyone can use every tags they like. No approval needed. Just don’t provide incorrect data or destroy others work. Lets have a look at the core values of OSM: Do-ocracy, Actions speak louder than words, without need for central sanction or even post-hoc approval.
I guess, that’s pretty clear. If no one needs an approval, why do we … sorry, I meant… why does a very limited number of people vote? If an approval is not necessary, why does something have to be approved?
Isn’t voting itself against our core values?
It seems obvious to me why proposal-writing and voting-ecstasy got a little out of control: data consumers.
All our data is completely worthless without someone processing it: drawing some nice maps, leading us our way and much more. And data consumers need clear definition: this tag means this and that tag means that. So they want approval: this tag is “good” (as in “approved”) and this is “bad” (as in “not approved” or even worse: “rejected”). If everything is clearly defined, it is easier to process our data. But there is one thing, that is quite often forgotten:
You can not process voting results.
Clarification added at 21:00 CET 04.01.2015: In my opinion the pressure comes from the data consumers, but not only directly. Sometimes mappers want something supported in their favorite application and they think that all they need is some “official” and “approved” tag. Gladly this is not true.
Back to do-ocracy
Clear definitions about how our data can be interpreted are in the interest of all. But those definitions should not be approved, they should evolve. If we approved a tagging scheme and no one uses it, it is useless. If it is used, but completely inconsistent, because it is too complex, it is useless.
We should not vote on new tagging schemes, we should support them - or not.
Lets replace voting in our proposals by usage numbers like taginfo and a list of supporters (mappers and consumers). No rejecters. If you don’t like the proposal write your own, convince others to use it and try to get some support from data consumers. Adapt it from time to time, if necessary. And after a while look at the usage numbers and the number of supporting consumers.
Let the numbers do the voting.
P.S: No, I will not put that proposal up for a vote.