Template talk:Admin level 10

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Admin levels for the United States

This edit claims to "generalize" the table row entries for the USA, AND effectively "hijacks" the perfectly-serviceable (and more accurately contextualized here) United_States_admin_level (by Stevea, me) for the editor's (Minh) WikiProject_United_States/Boundaries. Evidently Minh believes the wiki he buried by trumpeting his own article instead is now marked by him as "being considered for cleanup." I most strenuously object to this row being "dumbed down" in this way: the previous version was accurate, comprehensive, not overly complicated given the complexities in thousands and thousands of jurisdictions in the fourth-largest country on Earth and wish for this change to be reverted. It is as if a crafted-over-years with consensus, comprehensive (if complex) wiki is being deliberately ignored, devolved and made insignificant in light of the recent creation of a simplified "primer" version, and I distinctly have a problem with that approach and its resulting process and results. I don't wish to start an edit war, but the current row in this table for USA is so oversimplified it "borders" on incorrect. I intend to generate some real discussion about whether this approach is correct, or failing that I intend to redact the edit myself. Stevea (talk) 23:00, 5 July 2017 (UTC)

First, there's not thousands of thousands entries in this table, given it focuses on giving a summary for the ~200 countries of the world, with many of them not much documented (notably the smaller ones)
For large countries like the USA, it is hard to summarize the situation as clean as you would think, and this summary table just shows the basic general structure that allows producing a usable map of the world. Of course for more details you need a link listing exceptions, and this is what is already done by pointing to a specific project subpage for USA (just like what is done for many other countries).
Administrative status are very diverse across countries and the purpose of this table is just to allow some common base to compare them; then you have to tune locvally because even in a single country there are complex situations (and the admin status are also themselves evolutive in many places.
So the entries in this table just show what is the most common cases. In fact pure hierarchical administrative divisions are rare and do not even exist in any country that spans a large enough surface or had a complex history, or span several timezones. Even very small countries like Moldova or Cyprus have complex cases that are not easy to summarize (and in some cases, the choices on which administrative units to use may be politically oriented, with distinct "official" status supported by one state, but effective in the nearby state, and sometimes several states claiming the same area with different status. The rule in OSM was to avoid political conflcts by focusing on what is effectively applied locally de facto, independantly of official political claims: in case of conflicts, and where there's no way to conciliate the point of views over a region, and there's an adhoc local defecto adminsitration of the area, we separate that area even if it is not a recognized country. The same thing applies for internal subdivisions in a country (but this becomes compelx when there are ongoing administrative reforms that are decided and partly implemented but still not fully effective in all administrative domains).
I think we should keep this worldwide table simple: the linked subproject page is enough to enough to summarize the exceptions and document the additional tags that will allow more precise classification. The "admin_level" in OSM is nowhere a correct and sufficiant way to exhibit the political statuses. Almsot everywhere you need additional country-specific tags (preferably using ISO 3166 area codes in their keys). — Verdy_p (talk) 02:50, 6 July 2017 (UTC)
Perhaps you misunderstand? I don't believe I said that there are "thousands and thousands" of entries in this table. I was speaking of the USA row specifically and how Minh has changed it from what it was (a synopsis of years of consensus, including his, mine and many others) and changed it to something he created entirely himself over the last two days. I meant that there are thousands and thousands of such subdivisions in the USA. To succinctly capture that using a table that does its best to channel consensus, be accurate and comprehensive (even at the cost of "this is how the sausage got made") has its challenges. Yet I am proud of achieving those goals along with others. The results may not be pretty, but they do strive to be accurate and comprehensive.
Beyond that potential (and it seems likely) misunderstanding, the rest of your reply seems moot. I listen fiercely as I read your words "so the entries in this table show what is the most common cases." (sic) That makes me sit up and pay attention that rows in this table should be streamlined and perhaps even simplified.
A place for me to wrap this is to consider simplicity while asking for a fully-linked environment of "how the sausage was made" in the interests of documenting consensus. Stevea (talk) 03:23, 6 July 2017 (UTC)
The tone ofd your reply suddenly becomes aggressive without reason. I don't see any major problem in the existing table which is already a summary trying to find (and describe succintly) the raoughly equivalent levels that are pertinent for matching roughly comparable entities worldwide independantly of the actual status(es) and countries where they are used.
The OSM admin_level cannot capure all that complexity because it was designed to be purely hierarchical and in reality the hierarchies have many exceptions. what can be said is that distinct entities that have the same (or very similar) status in the same couyntry should have the same admin_level, but the same admin_level may still be used for multiple distinct national statuses (or subnational ones if the country is federal with some entities haing a large administrative autonomy).
Even in France where the hierarchical model used to be very strict, this is no longer true as there are various levels of administrative autonomies, including between entities of the same "type", and because the generic admin level is not observed in all administrative domains (e.g. between taxes, education, police, armies, navigation space, public transports, justice, health... the subdivision scheme is not exactly the same: you have all these problems as well in US, Russia, or in small countries like Moldova and Cyprus)
And I see that you have removed the cleanup banner and you admitted that linking to a subpage for more details about US was correct. What are you contesting now ? — Verdy_p (talk) 15:45, 6 July 2017 (UTC)
Verdy, I did not remove the cleanup banner, Minh did (a few days after he added it) after he and I have exchanged rather extensive email with one another quite recently. The linking to a subpage in the worldwide table was: (in order) 1) me entering a link to United_States_admin_level so people could "drill down" to more detail, which remained in good stead here for months and months, 2) Minh simplifying the table and REMOVING the United_States_admin_level link to point to "his" (simplified) page (WikiProject_United_States/Boundaries), 3) me replacing that link so that BOTH of these pages are now linked in the US row of the worldwide table. Minh and I are reaching more agreement, though I hesitate to at this very instant say "have completely reached," even as I am hopeful since we are both cooperating and open-hearted with each other in our desire to achieve consensus here about what our goals are and what we both hope to achieve.
It appears that this (worldwide) table, and so concomitantly the US row within it, deserve a "simplified" version of the deep complexity that such a table (and its row for each country) attempts to capture. I'm OK with that and concede the point that simplification is welcome and helpful here. THEN there are times and places (viz. United_States_admin_level) where all the gory details (and the sausage-making of its consensus) is presented. This, Minh calls "prescriptive" because it is often the case that no OSM entries have been made with these "suggestions" (townships haven't been entered in Minnesota and we note this, wards have not been entered in Louisiana but we say they could, if you do it like this...). ADDITIONALLY there is a place like WikiProject_United_States/Boundaries where Minh wishes to be "descriptive:" more of what OSM does NOW. There is a place for both and now we have them. This is getting better right now, this will continue to get even better soon (well, over time). Postscript: you were Mapper of the Month the very month before I was. That's pretty cool and says a lot about both of us keeping cool heads here. We do, we are, we shall. Stevea (talk) 20:07, 6 July 2017 (UTC)

Hi, just found out about this discussion. I disagree with the assertion that United States admin level is the product of consensus whereas WikiProject United States/Boundaries is not. Please compare United States admin level before and after Steve's edits. Most of the substantive differences between United States admin level and WikiProject United States/Boundaries can be attributed to a single author. Overall, United States admin level has only had a handful of authors over the years. Meanwhile, the very purpose of WikiProject United States/Boundaries is to accurately characterize the state of the OSM database, replete with links to overpass turbo queries. If the actual boundary relations contributed by countless mappers isn't consensus, what is? – Minh Nguyễn (talk, contribs) 08:49, 7 July 2017 (UTC)

The full-throated declarations of de facto and de jure administrative boundaries as articulated by hundreds of millions of US citizens over hundreds of years are consensus. "This single author" channels the legislation and stare decisis, which literally translates as “to stand by decided matters”. The phrase stare decisis is itself an abbreviation of the Latin phrase stare decisis et non quieta movere which translates as “to stand by decisions and not to disturb settled matters.” The (millions of) People of the state of California say "we have cities and towns, which are equivalent by law" and "counties." The (millions of) People of the state of Michigan say "we have townships." Et cetera. OSM reflects reality, reality is uttered by People in law. I don't believe I said that WikiProject United States/Boundaries is not consensus: it is, and it is respectable consensus, but it does strive to be OSM-mapped-data-only consensus. That has its place, and other kinds of consensus should (shall) not be ignored.
The People of Rhode Island have said since 1846 that Rhode Island has no administrative functions at the county level. Wikipedia says so, state statutes do, everybody agrees. I assert incorrect tags (of admin_level=6) are on Rhode Island counties. Why assert that this is consensus, simply because "it is tagged that way?" I can and do assert that these are tagged incorrectly. Might you agree? Stevea (talk) 09:29, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
WikiProject United States/Boundaries was created with the express goal of describing the state of OSM. If OSM differs from these full-throated declarations, that's a problem to hash out with the people who put the boundaries in OSM. The mailing list, not either of these wiki pages, is the appropriate way to start an active discussion about systematic changes to OSM. In general, when people in the OSM project refer to consensus, they're talking about consensus among OSM mappers (and occasionally OSM data consumers) about what best represents ground truth. This is the only consensus that matters in the OSM project. People here aren't referring to consensus among legislators, administrators, or the taxpaying public at large, but of course all these groups can influence our community by affecting ground truth. – Minh Nguyễn (talk, contribs) 11:01, 7 July 2017 (UTC)
If I may seek more light than heat from this discussion (and being optimistic, hopeful and constructive, I do) I can take from it that we (Minh and I) have identified specific areas of the USA where admin_level=* tags are misapplied or in error. Those should be corrected, and then WikiProject United States/Boundaries can (and should) reflect both what the state of OSM is, AND what the USA's People and laws assert, harmoniously. These would not be "systemic changes to OSM," they would be "corrections to errors in OSM." By analogy, if I see a sign that says "Speed Limit 30" (MPH) and find a tag on that road of maxspeed=35 mph, an error, I do not need permission from its author to correct the erroneous entry. It would be going out of one's way in the interests of politeness to do so, and one could (should?) do so, though we all might agree would be tedious and perhaps unnecessary. It is short-sighted and incorrect to assert that consensus in OSM is of one particular flavor: we do not say we need consensus to change incorrect tagging, we do. We also say that consensus includes channelling the real world into tags in OSM, so we do (tag using OSM tags based on "what is" in the real world). Asserting "ground truth" is a fine thing to do, then there is "the truth." Laws and assertions by the People (as to what are admin_level=*s) are this truth, which I assert is at least equivalent to "ground truth." I say and said absolutely nothing about taxpayers, a red herring in this discussion. Stevea (talk) 12:02, 7 July 2017 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────OK, I wasn't really arguing for OSM to intentionally defy reality – I never said you're wrong about how the map should be. A change to a regional border can be much more disruptive than a change to a local speed limit, so I fail to see the relevance of your analogy. My point was just that we should assume good faith on the part of all these people who have contributed to borders in OSM. If you disagree with them, it's important for the community to come to a consensus about the best way forward. That's important for the health of the project. To focus on consensus among contributors is to recognize that each of us individually is fallible, despite our best intentions.

You frequently reach for authoritative sources like laws in order to inform your opinions about how things should be mapped. Ordinarily one of this project's ground rules would discourage a focus on such sources. However, with administrative boundaries, that isn't necessarily a bad idea, because it's not like a welcome sign for South Bloomington Township in Ohio is going to say it's equivalent in status to a town in New York! ;-) I think the talk-us list and the rest of the U.S. community would be more than happy to learn from your research, but the research needs to be considered in the context of the map's current state and the reasons others may have had for making it that way.

To me, this would be an ideal outcome of these discussions:

  • that the map and wiki be consistent with one another, more or less, to encourage consistency on the map
  • that lay mappers can turn to an approachable, practical resource, such as what I attempted to create in WikiProject United States/Boundaries
  • that local mappers (or those who previously mapped these borders) be asked their opinion and their opinion be heard out, if not necessarily followed
  • that the resulting map be usable by data consumers (which requires consistency on the map)

I hope this isn't an unreasonable set of goals.

 – Minh Nguyễn (talk, contribs) 04:10, 10 July 2017 (UTC)

Glad to hear that 1) you don't mean for OSM to intentionally defy reality and 2) you don't mean that I'm wrong about how the map should be. That is all I've meant to do in the wiki: channel consensus into the wiki about what should be in the map (tagging and so on).

How disruptive something is: should I be concerned about this compared to the basic tenets of OSM? Like channeling consensus into our wiki? You spin my head around asking this and I'm not sure of a good answer. Sure, many of us have good intentions and it is important to be concerned that we are fallible. Are you saying I am? I am, we all are.

There ARE authoritative sources: some better than others. A speed limit sign is one, a law is another, "on the ground" evidence is yet another, somebody living somewhere their whole life and saying "we do it like THIS around here..." are all important. Truth is truth: the boundary of a state or nation (if authoritative) is as valid as a speed limit sign (which is authoritative).

The wiki, most or all agree, has, since the inception of this project, guided us towards good/better/best data in the map. We do not reach for the wiki to "authoritatively" tell us what is already in the map. We can look at the map or its underlying data to tell us that.

Lay mappers look to the wiki when they wonder what to do or how to enter data. As I write wiki, I strive to help us do just that, not tell us something we can already look up ourselves. I do so by channeling existing and being-established consensus on how to do this. Our wiki always has done this.

Local mappers have always had the ability to "watch" the map, without being slavishly asked if this or that or another change suits them. We should not change this, though I agree we should be aware of changes in the map affecting others.

Usability is in the eye of the beholder and (foolish) consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds. Say what you mean, why you mean it, and please stay true to the basic tenets of the map and its purposes, instead of bending and swaying to the always-changing desires of those who might usurp its purpose to their own devices.

Your stated "ideal outcomes" have implications that are either odd or resentful (by this author). The wiki informs (even inspires) on how to make a better map. I don't think many would say that the map should drive a wiki (rather than vice versa), as US/Boundaries attempts to do. You imply that US_admin_level is not approachable by saying you created US/Boundaries to be so. This, at the same time, both (attempts to or actually does) damns or dooms US_admin_level as too complex and relegates it to irrelevancy by asserting that US/Boundaries is the superior source, when in fact it simply reports map data, which is insufficient, missing or wrong in many of the cases that it documents. This is unsatisfactory. Stevea (talk) 08:02, 11 July 2017 (UTC)