Proposal talk:Highway key voting importance

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Discuss Highway key voting importance here:

For some values

It's been mentioned in the mailing list discussion, but I think it should be added that for some highway types (at least motorway, living_street) the choice is based purely on legal classification (except if a developing country decides to call unpaved one carriageway roads "motorway" - they shouldn't be motorways in osm). When in fact those two represent the far ends of the importance scale - which is not a strictly one dimensional scale but a bit like a tree structure in the lower end (track, service, living_street) are all "below" residential but ordering them is a bit vague. Maybe the emphasis should have been on the part "a very general and sometimes vague description" and not on the "of the physical structure".

Some countries have settled on using primarily the legal classification (everywhere or only in rural areas), as they mostly align with the importance and suitability for longer travel. For example, if we were to use tertiary for all roads wider than 4 meters (as given at Key:highway) in Finland, there would be few roads left as unclassified. We've been using since at least 2007 in built-up areas (where most roads are legally classified as something akin to the UK unclassified status),

  • residential
  • local collector (tertiary): mainly traffic inside a suburb
  • local main (secondary): mainly intra city traffic (suburb to center)
  • regional main (primary): mainly long distance or through traffic

And trunk only for "almost motorways". Alv 18:43, 27 12:56 28 August 2009 (UTC)

The classification of a road, of course within the context of the surrounding road network, should be determined upon the importance to the traffic rather than physical structures because: the physical road condition may be a result of the dependency on the need for this structure. And this need is directly dependant on the importance and the amount of traffic which is fact or expected. Even the administrative planning is only funding bigger structures if the road connection is important enough. The administrative classification is a result of this. So my recommendation to a mapper would be: take into account the existing administrative classification, the importance to the traffic and the context of the network around. If this is unclear, think about if the physical structure may be an indicator to the importance. -> my voting is pro importance, because I think this is the main qualifier. --HeikoE 19:17, 27 August 2009 (UTC)

If we are going to follow this kind of arguments, than we need more highway tags for Brazil. There are 3 main levels, and 6 sublevels, each sublevel is present at the two highest main levels, though the highest sublevels might not be available in the lowest main level. That makes a grid with 18 different tags, not counting residencial, living_street, service, paths, etc. In Norway on the other hand there are 6 such levels.
Should we solve these differences by making a general rule for all of the world, or should this be solved on national level?
IMO we should use more effort getting clear definitions on the national classifications, and leave the general guidelines as is.
--Skippern 00:47, 28 August 2009 (UTC)

We actually use government classifications mostly

We were chatting about this in the CloudMade office today. On the face of it this may look like a major change and also something very non-Verifiable, but actually it's pretty reasonable reaction to some fiddling which has been happening on the Key:highway page.

Key:highway currently states that we tag according to the physical attributes of a highway, which is all very reasoned-out on there and it's all very Verifiable, but it's not actually what we do! In most countries where OpenStreetMap is progressing well (Europe), we base the choice on government road classifications. The definition which is currently taking up too much space at the top of that page, is really just a secondary catch-all for countries or individual cases where government road classifications are not clear.

In those cases I guess we have two different options. Either we look at the grid layout and judge 'importance', or we look at physical attributes ('is it a big wide road?'), or maybe some combination of the two. I think this proposal is correct in suggesting that the grid layout and judge 'importance' approach can be better than the 'is it a big wide road?' approach. In fact the latter doesn't really work. Just because a residential street is very wide and smoothly tarmaced, you don't start calling it a trunk road (note this is more of a problem in the U.S. where a lot of minor roads are massive)

But both this proposal and the current Key:highway page are not doing a very good job of drawing attention to the fact that we actually use government classifications mostly. That's how we map in all the countries where OSM is big (Europe) I suspect a large part of the problem is here is the confusion for people in the U.S. (happily we're seeing a lot more U.S. people joining these days) where I understand the government road classifications are a bit confused (different rules for different states. Different statuses of freeways becoming interstates etc)

- Harry Wood 17:30, 4 September 2009 (UTC)

I don't think we are using government classification "mostly" in Europe, I think we are using them mostly in the UK. In Germany, France and Italy we are not using government classification - though there is a correlation: if a government decides a road to be important and classifies it primary it is likely to be important. But on the other hand, roads within inferiour classes can be very important as well - be it for declassification in order to get someone else do the maintenance or because of physically upgrading of former less important roads to cope with growing traffic. -- Dieterdreist 12:50, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

A country thing?

Isn't this just a per-country decision?

In some countries it makes sense to tag roads according to the official authority (read government) defined hierarchical position of a highway, while in other countries it makes more sense to use physical attributes of the road to define the hierarchical highway tag(s) used.

My vote is to abstain. It is a per country decision.

-- firefishy 14:28, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, it's a per country decision. However, the old description tries to suggest a single solution for all countries according to physical attributes which is definitely not possible. American residential streets are usually wider than German federal roads, so it's impossible to use physical attributes for mapping all roads, whether they are situated in in Central Africa or in the United States. --FK270673 10:52, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

In my opinion the suggestion to fill the highway tag with importance of a road and store its physical attributes in separate dedicated tags (surface, lanes, maxspeed:practical etc) is perfectly suitable for any country. It's anyway necessary to tag importance, because importance of roads affects proper map generalization -- Zkir 19:34, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

secret vote ??

Why don’t you inform all OSM users to participate on this vote? I found this vote just by accident. On the Main page, in the official OSM Forum, nothing in the news, OSM Blog , none on the main page news. Only in that rubbish mailing list you can find a little clue. Why do you keep that vote secret for the most of the OSM Users?

When will it give a central platform so that the users not have to to pound the streets in forums, mailingslists, blogs, irc, twitter, telephone conferences, local osm clubs, wikis, hand full self-appointed OSM Elite, Homepages to get all important news? --Edwin-ldbg 13:01, 17 September 2009 (UTC)

Who says this is important news? -- Harry Wood 13:37, 18 September 2009 (UTC)
who will ever be capable of handle all important news? Please feel free to cross-post to the forum, but also note: nearly all important stuff is discussed on the Mailing-List, I would not recommend the forum to anyone interested to cope up with ongoing development. --Dieterdreist 12:44, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Some people do not want this vote to be announced. It was even deleted from news. -- Zkir 14:38, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Straw Poll vote in main OSM irc channel agreed the vote wasn't news worthy. I removed it. --firefishy 15:05, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Why is there not a page for active votes on OSM ? --Skyper 13:50, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Because most people with any sense ignore these "votes". Voting changes nothing. Coding and mapping change things. Stop discussing, start doing. --Richard 15:19, 23 September 2009 (UTC)
Also to be fair this proposal hasn't gone through the same Draft/RFC steps as most other proposals that get voted on, and hasn't used the proposal template. Otherwise it would appear in this category page: Category:Proposed features "Voting" --EdLoach 16:07, 23 September 2009 (UTC)

Let me attempt to explain to Edwin-ldbg and Zkir.

The proposal has the feel of something quite newsworthy because of the unclear way it is phrased. Many people have seen it, and got carried away thinking that it is proposing an amazingly exciting new shake-up of the tagging system and that the result of the vote will be hugely important. That's wrong on two counts:

  1. As far as I understand the unclear wording of the proposal, and in my understanding of how we use the highway tag at the moment, this proposal is no big deal. It could be a good idea to re-word the key:highway page slightly, but it's not a major shake-up.
  2. The vote doesn't count. People who's opinions really count within the OpenStreetMap community, are not voting, and do not recognise that this is a valid or important vote. Even if we examine this proposal from a pro wiki-voting point of view, the proposal has skipped the Draft/RFC steps as EdLoach says. This is a real shame because Draft/RFC steps might have stood some chance of resolving the unclear aspects of the wording before everyone got so carried away.

As it is we have >60 votes on there now, and it's clear from many of the comments that people have misunderstandings about what they are voting on. Sadly this voting excitement is self-reinforcing, and means the vote has become important by sheer weight of numbers. As Alv said below, people will keep referring to this vote to justify different outcomes in the future.

I think we need to poor cold water on this situation, not promote the vote on all channels.

-- Harry Wood 11:58, 24 September 2009 (UTC)

Harry, your first point is exactly right. I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about. The vote is about changing the wording to match the way we tag, and not about changing the way we tag at all – I suspect that this is the reason that there was no draft or RFC. Voting on a simple wording change is quite silly. For your second point though, I really have to take issue with the statement that “People whose opinions really count...are not voting...” Everyone’s opinion counts. –Hawke
Everyone's opinion counts yes, but maybe some people's opinion should count a more than others. After all some people have a lot more mapping experience than others. Some people write OpenStreetMap code and maintain servers. Unfortunately many of those people (people whose opinions really count) are deeply dissatisfied with wiki voting processes, and are not even voting at all. I don't really know what the solution to that is, but I know that this page with >60 votes on it does not carry as much weight as people seem to think it does. -- Harry Wood 00:25, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

If you want to get a worldwide map, you are not only dependent on some server administrators, but also on many thousend volunteers worldwide. These many thousend volunteers want to get understandable instructions, otherwise they would discountinue contributions.

Mapping rules are different for each country and should be developed by each national community itself. However, mapping server administrators are encouraging or discouraging mappers with displaying or neglecting tags and mappers are trying to outwit mapping rules in order to get their tags mapped.

Displaying tags is not only a matter of programming, but in many cases also a matter of pride. Should we tag African highways as primaries or as tracks? If African or Asian mappers decide to develop a system based on other values than physical attributes, you should respect that. OpenStreetMap has grown into a stage where the majority of mappers are no British citizens any more, so non-British citizens are trying to express their ideas which need to be balanced within a global level. There is a widespread belief that the traditional description does not reflect the actual mapping practise. --FK270673 15:23, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Abandon Vote - Proposal Flawed

This proposal is deeply flawed and should be abandoned. A single worldwide rule will not work. -- firefishy 21:37, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

But why? Рarticular importance criterion for, say, 'secondary' can be different in different countries, but the very idea that values of the highway tag should be based on importance of a road, not its physical attributes is perfectly suitable for any country. -- Zkir 07:06, 20 September 2009 (UTC)
So every road in *insert name of developing country in Africa* will be highway=track, surface=very_horrible. After all, one rule fits all. Cool, when do I start re-tagging? :-) --firefishy 09:43, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
One would hope, yes. Even with the original wording, if they’re physically the same they should be tagged the same. --Hawke 11:35, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
No, it is the opposite: if we rely on pure physical state they all would be tracks while by tagging them according to local/regional importance (relative to the rest of the nearby grid) they can be (covered by the definition) primaries even when unpaved. -- Dieterdreist 12:41, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
That is what a no vote would mean. Yes gets away from that. --Wynndale 11:41, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
I still do not follow. What means which? It is overly confusing. --firefishy 15:04, 21 September 2009 (UTC)
Right now, the Key:highway page says “the consensus is that the highway tag is for making a general description of the physical attributes of a highway in the street grid.” Using “physical attributes” alone would mean that all those highways in $DEVELOPING_COUNTRY would — as you described – be tagged the same. --Hawke
Yes, I propose that if you vote no to that proposal then that's an implicit yes vote for key:highway unless you also vote yes for this deeply flawed proposal. yes? Clearly if you vote no for this proposal and yes for that proposal then you implicitly dislike key:highway ...but if you vote yes for this proposal and yes for that proposal then you implicitly propose a change to key:highway. Anyone disagree? I forgot to mention that per-country descriptions are different and will require a separate vote. </silliness>
Seriously I'm going to remove the "votes" listed below. We don't decide about a vote by having a vote. That's just silly. -- Harry Wood 15:29, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

I dont think we should abandon the proposal - Sarge 12:14, 20 September 2009 (UTC)

I disagree with firefishy, a worldwide rule will work, as long as it's definition is reasonable.-- Dieterdreist 12:40, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Again, it seems, different people have different views of what they are voting on. It's the first law of communication: when there is room for error, an error will happen. Which means people will keep referring to this vote to justify different outcomes in the future. With voting we should get some (short) formal document of clauses that have been given at start or voted upon. Anything else is then interpretation and would make the clauses hard to get accepted, but unambiguous. Not that I'd want a formal set of rules; the Editing_Standards_and_Conventions is just about as detailed as the "rules" need to be. Alv 11:54, 21 September 2009 (UTC)

Yeah the proposal wasn't written clearly enough. I think both firefishy and Dieterdreist are misinterpreting it as a new worldwide rule, and a whole load of other people on the voting page have the same misunderstanding hence the uproar. I'm basing my understanding on the little bit of wording at the top "the general definition of highway", meaning the per-country definitions which most people map by would still stand. But I could be interpreting wrongly. It isn't clear. And for that reason I agree that the proposal is deeply flawed and should be abandoned (or maybe reworked for a future vote). -- Harry Wood 15:29, 22 September 2009 (UTC)

I dont think we should abandon the proposal. --Aleksandr Dezhin 01:40, 30 September 2009 (UTC)

Page moved

Why was this page moved? It is clear that we are voting on the wording of the highway page – though why we are doing so instead of just changing it is indeed unclear. This page is not abandoned, obviously. And this is no proposed feature! What the heck? – Hawke

Yeah Phobie moved it "Highway key voting importance" -> "Proposed features/Highway key voting importance".
I'm guessing the reasoning is ...all proposals of any kind should be sub-pages of Proposed features. You'll notice some other proposals listed on that page are actually proposed changes to existing tag docs, rather than new ideas for tags. So it fits, although it means the page title is slightly misleading. -- Harry Wood 10:59, 2 October 2009 (UTC)
yes, I don't know why Phobie move the page, but I agree: it is not a proposed feature, as proposed features (says the page) are new features. Existing tags used to be changed randomly by whoever wanted to ("it's a wiki"), and there is no rule that says you have to propose and vote for anything. Of course if there was a recent vote it would be kind of vandalism and respectless to change a page contrary to user's vote. -- Dieterdreist 22:26, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
Late answer: Yes, the namespace name "Proposed features" for all proposals might be a bit misleading. If I could I would rename the whole namespace to "Proposals", but I can't. For sure having all proposals in some namespace is better than letting them float around in the wiki. --phobie m d 17:03, 25 July 2011 (BST)


Glad to see my vote was ignored. I specifically said veto -- look it up in the dictionary if you don't know what it means. Why do you guys seem to think this proposal passed? -- Randomjunk 10:05, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Could you please clarify who and upon what reasons can veto votings? Zkir 20:38, 3 October 2009 (UTC)
your vote wasn't ignored. I counted yes votes and the rest, and veto is "rest". The statutes say that a vote passes if it has a majority of yes-votes and at least 15 votes are cast. I even counted "yes and no"-votes and other stupid silly useless votes not as yes. Do you think this is a clown-school or I have nothing better to do than discuss and vote continuously on the same issues, because some trolls don't like the way things are? -- Dieterdreist 22:12, 7 October 2009 (UTC)

This voting is invalid

... because it was not on the proposed features page. It is easy to get enough approving votes, if you hide the proposal from where everybode expects it to be and only tell your friends. --Lulu-Ann 10:48, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

please stop it. This vote wasn't hidden at all. There even was a link on the highway-feature-page. If you can't accept that the main communication-channel in this project are the mailing lists, then I can't help you. This was IMHO not even a proposed feature, as proposed features are new features (someone else put it in the proposed features category). Highway is not a new feature and this vote doesn't change anything. It simply helps newcomers to understand the way, highway-tagging works, by adjusting the definition to the actual use. -- Dieterdreist 22:19, 7 October 2009 (UTC)
The "Proposed features" namespace is for all proposals, also for adding new values to existing keys, removing tags or to changing the meaning of a tag. --phobie m d 17:09, 25 July 2011 (BST)
The vote has come and gone. Lets move on. Reading the proposal carefully, it seems it doesn't actually change much from what was actually happening anyway --firefishy 09:15, 9 October 2009 (UTC)