Edit warring over Nagorno Karabakh region/republic

Looks, like there is edit war going on borders (external and inner-administrative) of Nagorno Karabakh republic.


With herov user keeping deleting borders (seems to be his only activity in OSM), first added by User Harut, then recovered by users, loir and Dinamik (I may miss someone else, who recovered deleted objects, as it’s not that easy to understand it from History page).

Article on subject in English Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nagorno-Karabakh_Republic
Being also a Wikipedian, I know how much time and nerves were and are spent on discussions on this matter.

OSMwise, it’s a defacto independent country for last 20 years, not recognized by any UN members (only other unrecognized republics, recognized it).

Currently, places, streets, and other object will have Armenian names, with Russian being widespread, and some English becoming more noticeable, as more western tourist visit republic.

Border type is set to be administrative, which I think is best solution, at this moment. As it’s de jure not independent, still borders exist for around 20 years now, and one using map of that region, should clearly see them, otherwise he may get under ceasefire, while crossing border, which isn’t shown on the map.

Thanks God, we’re not having such issues on OSM often. But on the other hand, I didn’t find a better place to write and discuss this, yet.

I’d highly appreciate thoughts, ideas and suggestions, on what can be done with this.

My suggestions:
*Leave borders as administrative
*Any possible note, on border being de facto only borders, are welcomed (before being deleted this morning, border had name of “contact line of Azerbayjani and Nagorno Karabakh forces” in Russian)

  • Leave inner borders (there are few administrative regions in Republic, and they are being used by different local and international organisation, and I don’t see why we should not have them)
  • Name tag, in Armenian (as that’s the language you’ll see on streets, and it’s official language, so you can get at least some official names)
  • names in other language as much, as we wish

He not only removes borders, but also deletes Armenian names of places and revirs, removes names of streets and they become unnamed.

So, I’ve completely reverted his changes (may be, I hurried up more than needed). The only useful contribution of this user is adding azeri place names, and I think, they will be easy to repair as name:az attribute automatically when the “war” ends.

I’ve sent a brief message to this topic, to all users I’ve noticed editing this region, and moderators/mediators as well.

I wrote a message to herov and got an answer, which gives to understand, that herov deliberately delete information and it is not accidental action. He understand, what he is doing. I asked him not to delete information, but add it. For example, one typical edit:
we had:
name:en = Sarnakhbyur
name:hy = Սառնաղբյուր
name:ru = Сарнахбюр
place = village

herov did:
name = Ağbulaq
name:en = Agbulaq
name:ru = Agbulaq
place = village

It is wrong, because: 1) we lose information about de-facto name of village in name; 2) we lose information about de-facto name in name:en; 3) we lose information about official local name in name:hy; 4) we lose information about official local name in name:ru; 5) we get wrong information in name:ru (Agbulag is not written in Russian - transcription to Russian looks like Акбулаг)

I proposed to use scheme:
name= Ağbulaq / Sarnakhbyur
name:en = Agbulaq / Sarnakhbyur
name:hy = Սառնաղբյուր
name:ru = Акбулаг / Сарнахбюр


name= Sarnakhbyur / Ağbulaq
name:en = Sarnakhbyur / Agbulaq
name:hy = Սառնաղբյուր
name:ru = Сарнахбюр / Акбулаг

herov didn’t accepted this proposal. He wants to delete all information, related to Armenia, Armenia and Armenian language in this region.

Also herov fully deleted borders of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Tags, which we should use in such situation, are the topic of discussion, but I am sure, that we should save useful information in some way.

Adding Azerbaijanian names is good action. Deletion of Armenian names of villages and towns and administrative borders is bad and inadmissible action. There will be war edit until the moment, when herov stops deletion of useful information.

Did you give a link to this discussion to herov?

Yep, I’ve sent him link to this thread, at the very same moment I sent to you.
I’ve also notified Dinamik, loir, and mediators mentioned on http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Disputes#Solving_Disputes

If you know other users, who mapped in that area, let’s also let them know.

One of mediators told me that they would prefer engaged users to try to come to consensus on their own.

But if herov declared, that he is going to delete any mention of Armenians or Armenian in that place (and I find this statement nothing but just a sick), I doubt any consesus can be reached with him, as good maps in OSM is not what he is interested in.

Anyway, believe me, no matter if we stop one particular herov, or not, whatever we will do (revert, block him, etc…), in foreseeable future forums, social media and news website will be filled with appeals to readers, to go to OSM and delete “wrong information” and “cyber-jihad declaration”, like they do to Wikipedia. And I’d like us to come up with some consensus and technical means on this issue, before that. Can we protect some objects from editing, the way you can protect articles in wikipedia?
If we don’t have technical ways for it, does community find it acceptable, to use automatic or semi-automatic tools, which will revert any edits, of questionable objects after we edit them according to consensus reached here? It doesn’t have to work 24/7, but my experience says, we will need to have something like that ready from time to time.

Coming back to main topic:

The only thing I strongly disagree in your proposal, is using English/Azerbaijanian names in name tag, instead of Armenian/Azerbaijanian names. If this wasn’t a typo, can you provide your reasons, for that? I can’t find a reason to use English names as main name, in NKR, where English is used rarely and only as international language (the way it’s being used in majority of other places in the world).

Issues which I see:
I suppose, there are new villages/streets/objects built after war, which never had an Azerbaijanian name.
Objects which had different role/amenity 20-23 years ago. Wouldn’t be it weird to have building which serves as a hospital now, be named as city-council/house of culture which it was in Soviet times, in Azerbaijanian “just to have” it there.

have you invited herov to the discussion here? The situation sounds quite clear but it is sometimes helpful to hear the other side, especially when trying to find a compromise

Motivation was to give people the possibility to read name in “non-standard” alphabets: for example, name of the capital of Armenia is “Երևան (Yerevan)”. I think, that is rather useful to write in name transliteration to english. Of course, I don’t insist on variant with only english word in name. Variants “Սառնաղբյուր (Sarnakhbyur) / Ağbulaq” or “Ağbulaq / Սառնաղբյուր (Sarnakhbyur)” are better.

I saw an opinion, that the aim, for which building was constructed, should be marked in building=, the de-facto using - in tag amenity= (for example, for building, which was constructed for kindergarden, but is used for shop now: building=kindergarden + amenity=shop). We can write de-facto using in name, other information - in description.

See here:

Hello, I’m new here so forgive me if I intrude. My opinion observing this is that a map should reflect what happened on the ground, not the other way around. So when the name of a place really is ordered to be changed by those in power, either by consensus or by force, map makers should respect that. I really know nothing of the actual situation there. If the person editing is just one guy trying to coerce the whole map to conform to the opinion of a small minority, he’s clearly a vandal-- ignore the rest of what I say here.

Clearly the old name needs to be retained somehow for reference by those who were not aware of the change or are working from other maps. A more peaceful example would be changing the English version of the name of the capital of China. For many years, paper English maps showed “Beijing (Peking)” with the old name in parenthesis and in small type.

Would it be appropriate to cast any old names fully out into another namespace, for example:

name:en = Agbulaq
historic:name:en = Sarnakhbyur

“Historic” I put in the example here because in my brief experience with OSM it seems to be commonly used to tag things that once were somewhere but now no longer exist. Realize though that the word “historic” could imply a reverence toward those who “made the history” – which in this case would be the Armenians. So instead, non- perjorative terms like “old”, “former”, or “previous” (or even a perjorative one like “occupied”) could be considered.

The only valid reason for keeping an old name is pragmatic; for cross-reference with other (old) maps, and outside people who know the place by the old name. But that is important, because a good map is about being able to find things.

Now about buildings which have been remodeled to serve some other purpose-- any remaining reference to the prior use(s) needs to be very clearly delineated as “historic”, “previous”, “abandoned”, etc. It would be unproductive to take your business proposal to what is believed to be the town-hall and find a hospital there, especially when the town has a new town-hall in a different location.

In this situation we dont’ have clean historic name and clean actual name. Territory is an object of dispute between 2 states: Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. So Azerbaijan thinks, that it is territory of Azerbaijan and gives to villages Azerbaijanian names (in this case - Aqbulaq), Nagorno-Karabakh Republic thinks, that it is territory of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and gives to villages Armenian names (in this case - Sarnakhbyur).

A variant:

name:en = Aqbulag / Sarnakhbyur
name:azerbaijan_opinion:en = Aqbulag
name:nagorno-karabakh_republic_opinion:en = Sarnakhbyur

OSMers, as I predicted, we’re having same issue again.
Now, it’s User:baxi who removed all the borders, and keeps removing names in Armenian.

Short summary: as borders are not recognized by UN de jure, but de facto borders actual for 25 years now, we’re using border_level=3.
But borders do exist. De facto there’s and independent, democratic states, for quarter of century. And one travelling there, definetly needs to know about those borders, otherwise he’s putthing his life at risk, so we must show them.

I guess, there is a consensus on this question.
So if user baxi won’t reply I’ll have to simply revert all of his/her destructive edits in few days.

P.S. Just to make it clear. Prior to writing this post I’ve sent message to baxi, asking him to stop those edits, and if he/she has objections, represent them here, so we can discuss.

Hello everyone.

There’s a clear reasoning behind my (and any other member of community with the same goal) actions in this particular case. As you have pointed out, Nagorno Karabakh is not an actual Republic, nor it has ever been. For those of you who wishes to get a full understanding of the situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan there’s a wide variety of resources on the internet, including, but not limited to Wikipedia.

I don’t want to be ignorant to the war that has been going on for years, but to this current situation all you really have to know is the fact, that territory of NKR belongs to Azerbaijan Republic and to Azerbaijan Republic only.

Now what exactly do you want this community to reflect on maps? The information used desperately in media war by those, who had taken territory that didn’t belong to them, or the actual information?

Would you change the names in Poland after German invasion?

Now, let’s be more specific and productive.

You have claimed that you used border_level=3, which is not only wrong, but also technically impossible, because there is no such tag.
And even if you do put said tag, it won’t affect the map in any way.
There is admin_level tag and if it’s equal 2, it means that borders are legit and recognized. This is exactly what has been done.

You can check out wiki osm for more information: http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Map_Features

It says:

Which means that this tag is used for administrative borders.

Yes, tourists may be expecting some dangers, but there’s a special tag for this situation - military=danger_area (http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:military%3Ddanger_area)

This tag makes specified map area looks red, which is far more distinguishing to the tourist and, therefore, is much more safer than administrative borders. Plus, those borders are too thin, whilst in reality line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian armies are much broader as it includes minefields and trenches.

This is what I suggest:

  1. For safety reasons polygons with this tag should be used:

Google Translate

  1. Widely accepted legal borders should be used as district borders.

  2. Fully agree with Dinamik on naming scheme he proposed.

(sorry for my english)

Actual information, are you kidding?

Do not forget that we have the basic principle of the truth on the ground. In fact, Nakorn-Karabakh is a country independent from Azerbaijan. Draw it as part of Azerbaijan - is drawing virtuality.

And place=city with a real population of 300 people - is this actual?

If I go to these places as a tourist, which I will benefit from the map, which is not true? How would react to me the locals, if I ask for directions on the map with the Azerbaijan names?
From this card will only harm.
For titles in different languages is name:xx.

So do not talk about the actual information and offer to paint what is actually for 20 years not real.

Why? wiki says “boundary=administrative + admin_level=2 marks country borders”. There is no even phrase “boundary=administrative + admin_level=2 marks state borders”. And there is no any phrases about UN (and, please, note, that UN has no priveleges to recognize countries (“The United Nations is neither a State nor a Government, and therefore does not possess any authority to recognize either a State or a Government”)).

So we have boundary=administrative + admin_level=2.

Of course, Nagorno-Karabakh is not an actual Republic, because it is a geographical region. There is sense to talk about Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

We should remember that there are two priciples of considering question:
juridical: there is a dispute: Azerbaijan claimes, that there is its territory, and Nagorno-Karabakh Republic claimes, that there is its territory;
factual: Azerbaijan tryes to control territory, but Nagorno-Karabakh Republic does it.

The answer is - to show factual sitation.

What are you talking about?

Where did you get information about “legit and recognized” borders?

It says only, that boundary=administrative is used for administrative borders. No doubt, that there is goverment, that recognise this borders - this is the Goverment of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

We should use


I want to add: I think, that there is sense to mark firstly old name, which was used before conflict, and alternative name secondly. You can find old maps, for example, here.

Hi guys :slight_smile:
What should we do now? :slight_smile:

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The boundaries won’t change in a hurry, and any eventual changes will likely be limited in scope in OSM terms — the enclave seems destined to eventually become part of Azerbaijan due to the current geopolitical state of affairs, but it will likely remain disputed for years to come.

For now, just report vandalism as usual. There seem to be a bunch of trolls out there now (I’ve reported two), usually with Turkish locales on their changesets.

Cf.: Disputed territories - OpenStreetMap Wiki

I’d echo what @JeroenHoek said and say that there is no hurry to dive in and change things in OSM until things have settled down a bit.

For the avoidance of doubt - Nagorno Karabakh / Artsakh was always in OSM as a “disputed area” rather than a country and was always part of Azerbaijan as part of OSM was concerned. We (the DWG) have had at least one report that someone’s enthusiasm to reflect changes has resulted in broken relations (which have been restored by other users). Better to discuss what should be there now and have someone familiar with editing admin relations do that rather than have a period of breakage and repair without discussing the actual reality on the ground.

– Andy (from the DWG)

Or, more accurately now, the borders will likely need to change on January 1 2024. The shape will remain the same, but they will probably represent normal Azerbaijani districts instead of a disputed enclave.

In the mean time the ethnic cleansing continues on OpenStreetMap as well.

A reminder on how names work: names do not disappear overnight, and generations of people who lived in Nagorno-Karabakh will refer to the places there in a their Armenian names. What users like @AzerAkhundov are doing by removing names is deliberate vandalism aimed at the eradication of a people’s history. The official names of those places won’t change until January at the soonest; surely the signs haven’t all been changed already?

That seems to be a statement by one side; events on the ground may happen more quickly than that.

Indeed - even if the Armenian-speaking population of the area is removed (at gunpoint or otherwise), natural features such as this will still have names in multiple languages, and the name:language tags should reflect that.

I’ve asked a number of the editors in the area to join this discussion.

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Hello! I didn’t know such topic exists and saw the link from SomeoneElse’s message.

The reason I changed village names back to their official ones is that the situation on the ground has changed. As I told to SomebodyElse, when I changed some names back in 2020 year before the war, I was warned and told that the names should be on the language who controls it and lives there.

After the war, situation on the gorund has been changed, so I changed names to the official ones. I didn’t remove armenian names from villages and towns, just changed the appearing name to official one. For example, on the map it is shown as Cəmiyyət, but all names are kept (including Armenian): Node History: ‪Cəmiyyət‬ (‪1347062797‬) | OpenStreetMap

Still I don’t understand why it was not considered as ethnic cleansing when city, town and village names were changed to Armenian and Azerbaijani names were removed. Even Aghdam city was renamed to Akna (even Armenian people still call it Aghdam, as Akna name appeared in 90-s after occupation and it was changed in purpose to remove all names in Azerbaijani from occupied area).

I kindly ask moderators to change the administrative borders to real ones, as official administrative division of Azerbaijan Republic. There are many minorities in Azerbaijan and Armenian people are among them. But if removing Azerbaijani names during occupation could be understood, it is absolutely illogical to keep Armenian names after deoccupation. I mean they should be kept but on the main page names should be shown in Azerbaijani as it works in all other countries.

Rules should work for everyone. Double standards are the main reason of this conflict lasting for such a long time.

Best regards.
Azer Akhundov

In many of your changesets you are actually removing the Armenian names. That region has been inhabited by a majority of Armenians for ages (including during the existence of the Soviet Union), so logically, all places and localities do have Armenian names. Now that the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh is being forced out by a combination of factors (caused in part by Russia’s current weakened state, and the geopolitical balance of power between Armenia and Azerbaijan now favouring the latter), that region is for the first time in a very long time, likely to end up with a minority of Armenians (if any) and on January 1 will likely get incorporated into Azerbaijan completely, definitively.

On OpenStreetMap, most of those places appear to have had name:az, name:hy, and name:ru for years, with name carrying the Armenian name, as one would expect in that region where the majority of people spoke Armenian before being forced out by means of violence and starvation. There is no double standard here. Personally, I would report any user trying to remove name:az as well.

Erasing centuries of names without keeping them in name:hy is a form of ethnic cleansing. Don’t do that. The Azerbaijani government seems to be managing fine on their own without your help.

There will be generations of Armenians who will refer to their beloved former home using Armenian names, including mountain tops, for decades to come. Those names will not go away in our lifetimes, so stop erasing them.

What will likely happen though, is that on January 1, the name of most places will become the Azerbaijani name, with name:hy retaining the Armenian name. You could formulate a plan to rename them area by area in bulk if you want.

What you are doing now however is premature and offensive. The Karabakh Armenians are being forced to abandon homes they have had for decades, centuries even. There is no need to add insult to the injury by trying to make it look as if they were never there.

As for the boundaries; with no displaced governing body left to dispute this region’s state. It will likely become just another part of Azerbaijan. However, that is not now according to both the Azerbaijani government and the NKR. Just wait until next year to see what is actually going to happen before changing boundaries.

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