From OpenStreetMap Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Public-images-osm logo.svg informal
Desire path (19811581366).jpg
A key for informal features that are not intentionally planned or formally set up Show/edit corresponding data item.
Group: properties
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)may be used on relations
Status: de facto

This attribute indicates that a feature has not been established on purpose. It is mainly used with footpaths, but it could also be used with any other kind of feature. One common example of an informal footpath is a [W] desire path.

For most kinds of features, informal=yes is mutually exclusive with operator=*. If a feature (trail, camp pitch, etc) has an operator, then it is by definition not informal.[1] And conversely, if it is informal that implies that no entity officially operates it.

Paths and other features that were originally informal may later be adopted by an administrative body (which may improve the surface or perform maintenance). When this happens they lose their informal character and the tag should be removed. Conversely, a feature that was once maintained but is subsequently abandoned or decommissioned may become informal if it continues to be used despite the abandonment. (In the case of a feature that has been abandoned for many years, it may be difficult or impossible to tell in the field whether its original construction was intentional.)

Features tagged as informal=yes could be completely unmaintained and might be considered with lower priority by routers.


Example Mapping Description
Desire path off Fairmead Road, High Beach, Essex, England 01.jpg

+ informal=yes

A clearly visible path that was not deliberately created, but has been established by many people making use of the route
Desire path (19811581366).jpg

+ informal=yes

A pedestrian path (e.g. in a park) created by many people choosing the same shortcuts or routes
Fora pista a Mottaret.jpg piste:type=downhill

+ informal=yes

A ski slope that is not officially maintained, but still frequently used by skiers

Useful combinations

See also

  • path=desire An alternate way to explicitly indicate a desire path.
  1. Tagging guidelines by the United States Trail Access Project recommend tagging managed ways informal=no where the name of the operator is not known.