Atlantic Ocean: repeated name removal

Over the past several years certain mappers have repeatedly removed the name tag from the Atlantic Ocean node (History Viewer, Deep History). The same pattern can be seen for the North Atlantic and South Atlantic. Proponents of name removal argue that these oceans have no local name because nobody lives there. Regardless of whether this argument has merit, this has a negative downstream effect on OSM based maps.

For example, the comprehensive name:lang tags on ocean nodes allows the OSM Americana map to label them in many different languages. However, as you can see, the Atlantic Ocean is not labelled in any language. This doesn’t seem right since the node is tagged with many language specific name:lang tags. So why is the label missing? Because the node lacks a plain name tag and is tagged with noname=yes OpenMapTiles (the vector tile schema OSM Americana uses) sees it as a nameless feature and not something that should be included in the name layer. So it filters it out. Could the logic be more complicated and check for every possible name:lang tag before deciding the feature is nameless? Sure. But expecting a named feature to have a name tag seems like a reasonable expectation for a data consumer to make.

So do plain name tags belong on oceans? Should name be restored on these nodes? If not, then name should be removed from all the other oceans as well for consistency. At the very least it seems to me that noname=yes should be removed since it’s simply incorrect to assert that the Atlantic Ocean has no name. It clearly has many.


This may be a somewhat trolling suggestion, but … it should be possible to determine what language is spoken by the majority of people in the land adjacent to a given ocean, and use that language as the value for the “name” key.

Another semi-serious suggestion is to use an internationally recognized numeric identifier for the ocean in the “name” key, e.g. the Wikidata Q id, Atlantic Ocean - Wikidata or one of the (many) numeric identifiers listed there – GeoNames, FAST, ICPSR Geographic Names Thesaurus, Marine Regions or some other one.

That would remove the problem of downstream (heh) users thinking the feature has no name, while still avoiding privileging one language over another.


For context see this block, this previous one, and this talk list thread.

Edit: I’d got the block number wrong.

That approach is actually used in lots of places. It’s not a panacea (both sides of the Persian Gulf / Arabian Gulf** dispute think they have got the majority on their side) but it can be useful. It’d be interesting to see a calculation for the Atlantic, though.

** choose according to your preferred language

So Amerigo Vespucci sailed across that nameless pond to have his first name taken to label the new continents.

Pulls up old paper print of the Atlas, edition 1968 and checks, yes middle of the pond, no soul in sight is printed Atlantique.

Tiring those 3 headed specimens known in Scandinavian lore as trolls.

I’d take a stab at English, Spanish, Portugese & French as the 4 leaders?

But what do people think about my suggestion of using a numeric identifier for the name key? That would seem to eliminate opportunities for argument, at the cost of looking really weird to users who don’t specify a language.

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That’s even worse than just picking a language. Some rare features like these just fall outside of any clearly dominant language or are international (exceeding two or three countries) in scope. Using English there for name is just sensible.

I’m Dutch, do I care that the default name tag for an ocean is in English? Of course not. If I want a map with as many Dutch labels as possible, I would just use name:nl.

If English is really problematic, then use the Latin Oceanus Atlanticus for a classical feel. It would be one of the least jarring identifiers you can use.



So, it does not mean: The OSM-object does not have a name-tag.

Question for me is: Should the name be set to some kind of “international term” for the Atlantic ocean.

yes please, an international term is what we need. What do you suggest specifically?

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The Latin would have the approval of the Holy See.


If English is really problematic, then use the Latin Oceanus Atlanticus for a classical feel. It would be one of the least jarring identifiers you can use.

the Romans took from the Greek, Ἀτλαντὶς θάλασσα would be closer to the roots then :wink:
although expressing a slightly different concept, maybe

Personally I would be fine with English in the name tag for the Atlantic Ocean, I think it would be understood by the vast majority of all neighbouring population, even if they don’t generally speak English, and while there is undeniably some imperialistic background, that’s how it is, we just map what is there. For the Pacific Ocean or the Arctic I see more potential for problems

Greek has the problem of being indecipherable for most people unless transliterated. The latin alphabet doesn’t suffer this drawback (not in any meaningful sense).

Would it? Anyone using maps in their native language will benefit from name:*. Besides, name often contains scripts and languages completely unintelligible to most, and that’s fine. Besides, most international collaboration in the Pacific or Arctic is done in English. Denying that just seems overly political without any tangible benefit for the map’s users.

(Although I must admit those Latin names are kind of sexy.)


Besides, most international collaboration in the Pacific or Arctic is done in English.

I don’t have knowledge about the Pacific, but for example the homepage of the arctic council is in Russian and English

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Atlantika oceano
That’s esperanto. :smile:


You’re joking, but this whole schmozzle started because a user didn’t like the plethora of English terms in use for e.g. the Atlantic Ocean and wanted to use Esperanto instead. It’d be lovely if we did all speak the same language, but we don’t - at least not yet.

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Maybe it’s more useful to have a different value for noname to indicate there is no name, but name:*?


For better or for worse, English is the international language of today’s world. It is the pragmatic choice for the fallback name tag in a case like this. I say fallback, because data consumers should be encouraged to always use name:lang tags first where they are present. Other suggestions like Latin, Esperanto, or a number would be far less useful to far fewer people worldwide.

That being said, having no name tag on international objects would also be a reasonable policy with some additional tagging. In this case data consumers need a way to easily tell that an object is tagged with multiple names, despite lacking the name tag. This way they can avoid prematurely filtering it out of their data set. We could say that data consumers are expected to look for a variety of different name keys or any key matching a certain pattern, but this seems overly complicated for the initial filtering step. Another option would be a tag that explicitly states “this object has names despite lacking the plain name key” much like noname=yes explicitly states “this object really has no name and it’s not a mistake that the tag is missing”.


I have opened an RFC on a propsal to add noname=multiple_languages in order to provide an alternative tagging scheme for exactly this situation:


and that would be just for the ancient Greek (I won’t even touch the dialect origin, I’m not too familiar with differentiating those :stuck_out_tongue: )
I would be find with the English name aswell, mainly because that’s the currently de-facto international language of communication, no matter if we like it or not.