iD/Controversial Decisions

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Some decisions by the maintainers – mainly regarding tagging – appear controversial or lack support by the community. These cases are documented on this page.

This page is not a place to discuss what is controversial and what not. If you are not sure or if you doubt that any of these entries is controversial, discuss it on the Tagging mailing list or any appropriate, frequently used place. It is controversial if many people disagree with the decision of the maintainers of iD and can provide valid arguments against the maintainers' decision.

Present in the Latest Release of iD

nonsquare=yes for buildings and highlighting unsquared buildings as errors

On 7 May 2019 Quincy Morgan opened a ticket on GitHub suggesting that "iD should offer a fix like "Tag as accurate" that will add a tag like unsquare=yes to indicate a building is known to be truly irregular". Michael Reichert and Paul Norman objected on the GitHub ticket; Michael Reichert brought the issue to the attention of the community on the Talk mailing list. Both on the mailing list and the GitHub ticket, various users pointed out why such a tag should not be used, that editor developers should not just invent tags as they like and where such a valiation rule could cause problems.

Note: Quincy replaced unsquare=yes by nonsquare=yes during the discussion.

Links for further reading/archived discussions:

iD 2.15.2 and later do not offer to add nonsquare=yes as a autofix option of the validation rule but still use the tag to suppress the validation warning.

Changing crossing=zebra to crossing=marked

crossing=zebra was originally documented as UK-only shortcut tag in the wiki. iD pushed the global use of this tag through the preset mechanism, see here for a summary: [1] Recently the authors of iD decided that crossing=zebra should be deprecated (no public discussion about this has taken place, the tag has 533.000 uses as of July 2, 2019), and offers to automatically replace it with crossing=marked, which is an undocumented tag (currently 269.000 uses as of July 2, 2019, likely due to the automatic conversions, because taghistory shows nearly 6000 uses in mid 2018).

It should also be noted that a "zebra crossing" may have legal implications in a jurisdiction, that may not be the same than any other kind of crossing markings (this is completely unclear because of the lack of definition and discussion of crossing=marked).

Not showing specifics of automatic tag transformations by default

Unless you click on an info-button, the automatic transformations, are confirmed „blindly“ (not knowing what they will do) and will just happen in the background. These are functions for experienced mappers who know the meaning of tags and should be required to have a look what will be automatically changed. Right now you can blindly confirm these without actually knowing what they are about. There is a UI conflict between making conscious pro decisions and a simple “trust us and click ok”-style UI.

Calling a highway=track an "unmaintained track road

The preset name for highway=track is "unmaintained track road", while the tag has no documented implications about maintenance but is about agricultural and similar use. There are multiple tickets on GitHub about this decision:

  • GitHub ticket #2615 where Bryan mentions that he changed the description of the tag on the OSM wiki (the wiki edit was reverted later)
  • comments to commit 6b2a69282e0b274c270f5288765ca3db1c8890f9 (discussion locked, Bryan Housel showing unwillingness to accept other opinions)
  • GitHub ticket #3038 (closed, locked)

Deprecating (and automatically replacing) tags without discussion and in some cases clearly wrongly


In particular (as in clearly wrong)

  • amenity=dancing_school
  • amenity=scrapyard (this is an old one)
  • highway=platform
  • landuse=farm (while this is actually deprecated an automatic replacement with landuse=farmland is wrong)
  • leisure=tanning_salon
  • shop=boutique

further there are a couple of replacements that potentially cause a loss of information. SimonPoole (talk) 13:04, 30 May 2019 (UTC)

  • landuse=reservoir is replaced with natural=water + water=reservoir
  • waterway=riverbank with natural=water + water=riverbank
  • indoor=corridor with highway=corridor + indoor=yes
  • landuse=basin => natural=water + water=basin
  • craft=jeweler changed into shop=jewelry. They probably targeted tag craft=jeweller, as this is the correct spelling for it according to the wiki and taginfo.
  • barrier=entrance changed into entrance=yes.
  • amenity=public_building changed into building=public even for nodes and even for nodes already inside mapped building.

Maraf (talk) 07:50, 31 May 2019 (UTC)

highway=crossing added to any intersection of a road and a footway/cycleway

iD's validation rules warn if a road and a sidewalk intersect and lack a highway=crossing on the intersection node. User mvl22 complains on GitHub that this behaviour contradicts existing mapping practice (Tom Hughes adds that mapping practice in UK and US is different).

Resolved in Latest Release of iD

building=* removed by validation rules

iD proposed fix is removing essential data.

building=yes + office=administrative is updated to just office=government, with building tag removed.


[problem fixed in version 2.15.2]

Adding highway=footway to public_transport=platform

This issue is resolved since version 2.15.2.

This was part of iD since version 2.15.0, added in iD issue 6042.

Quincy Morgan provided the following explanation for their change:

The overall motivation behind these and similar recent changes is to replace implicit tagging with explicit tagging. Implicit tags make it harder for consumers to handle OSM data with certainty. A feature with highway=footway + access=customers + bicycle=dismount is much less ambiguous than public_transport=platform alone

iD's validation rules asked to add highway=footway to all platforms (public_transport=platform and railway=platform). People against the change argued that

On 22 May 2019 Nakaner asked to remove this validation rule and pointed out the issues mentioned above. Both on GitHub and on the tagging mailing list, almost nobody objected and multiple users agreed with him. On 23 May 2019 Bryan Housel closed and locked the discussion on GitHub saying he agreed with Quincy. This comment was the subject of a Code of Conduct complaint, which As of June 2019 is still ongoing.

Adding barrier=kerb to nodes with kerb=*

Many nodes with kerb=* tags are highway=crossing nodes. Which means tags apply to both a pedestrian crossing and a road. By adding a barrier tag, iD (> 2.15.0) introduces a barrier to the road, which breaks routing in some applications. This feature was removed in version 2.15.2. See also the GitHub ticket about the complaint.