Duck tagging - the living fossil of OSM?
From a 2016 non UK-perspective duck tagging appears to be outdated and - well, might be misleading.
Duck tags have been introduced in the early days of OSM. They combine physical and access attributes in a single key and were a natural choice then. Today you could technically replace all highway=footway/cycleway/bridleway with highway=path and specific physical and access attributes. Why might this be more favourable on a global scale?
As dieterdreist stated here "While duck tagging works very good within the same culture and region, it bears at the same time the risk that mappers in different regions have different assumptions of what is implied by certain words. "
On first sight, descriptive keys like footway or cycleway seem to give a clear indication of the type of a path. Actually globally that’s only true, if you provide - in addition to the highway tag - other decent attributes, like surface, width, smoothness, incline, access restrictions etc. So either way an almost equal number of tags are usually required to describe a way equivalent. So to my impression duck tagging might not be that intuitive and naturally for others than for you. Non-native English mappers (like me) may have different assumptions of what is semantically implied or what is usable according to their region. A footway in the UK is more or less different from a trail in the US or path in Nepal or a Wanderweg in Germany. --geow (talk) 21:42, 15 February 2016 (UTC)