Mapping minority-owned and women-owned businesses

To be clear, I see no issue with this information being included in OSM for businesses that do want it highlighted. However, whether they want it highlighted can be time consuming to verify and is subject to interpretation by mappers. Because of this the tags will likely proliferate to businesses that don’t want it highlighted. Is the upside to those that do, worth the downside for those who don’t? I don’t know. But we should consider this carefully.


Both your points could apply to the person who tagged the house down the street from them as a drug dealer, but so what? Just because people want to provide the information and there might be a market for it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good fit for OpenStreetMap. There should really be more to it then that. Especially when adding the information could lead to potential legal and safety issues. It’s not an either or thing though. I’d probably support adding who owns a business if it’s based only information they provide, but I see no way for something like that be enforced. Otherwise it probably be an issue, but random people shouldn’t be adding the racial makeup of who lives or work somewhere to OpenStreetMap, period. I could really care less if someone finds it useful. Just like I could care less what houses drug dealers live in.

Maybe it’s just me but I’ve been in plenty of minority owned business in my life and they have been no different then non-minority owned ones. No business can discriminate based on inherent characteristics and it’s not like African American’s or LGBTQ people live on Mars and buy stuff “normal” people don’t. They usually shop at and by the same products that everyone else does. Acting like they are a separate unique class with different products and retail outlets is just cringe.

The only people who care about this kind of stuff is liberals who have white guilt and think shopping at a minority owned store somehow makes up for slavery or some nonsense. It’s totally meaningless IRL though. A minority owned business is no different functionally then one that’s not owned by a minority. Otherwise what actual difference is there between a minority owned business compared non-minority owned one besides the skin color or culture of the owner and how does either of those effect shopping at those business in any way what-so-ever?

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Flip it on its head:


If a business wants it highlighted enough that they’ve put up a sign, we map that. If they haven’t, we don’t. And signage is a verifiable fact that is always worth mapping.


Presumably, if the business has published this information on their web site or social media profile, that’s also just as easy to verify and just as mappable.

(I have to say I’m not dissuaded by the idea that mapping something might be difficult – have you ever tried cleaning up TIGER data that has been untouched since the original import? Verifying those attributes can definitely be time consuming!)


Separate lines for each one, or all together?

e.g signage:owned=latino; woman; disabled; LGBTQ; veteran

Or owned:signage= perhaps?

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Likewise, I look askance at many of the slippery slope arguments leveled in this thread. These arguments ignore the possibility of a narrow approach to this issue that’s limited to POIs in a context (region, society, culture, market) in which these characteristics are widely accepted outside of the OSM bubble, and further limited to a scenario in which we can somehow obtain the owner’s consent. Sometimes it’s hard to think about tagging issues with nuance and avoid absolutism, but that’s exactly what’s necessary here.

I’d hope we’re somewhat careful about how we map minority religions:

This is another situation where the POI’s owner can inform our decisions without dictating them. We aren’t obligated to follow a business’s arbitrary marketing guidelines, but none of us woke up this morning with a goal to misrepresent these POIs. We can keep a neutral point of view even as we document societal phenomena that are not neutral.

There’s a kernel of truth to what you’re saying, but I don’t think it’s that simple. For example, a Black-owned hair salon is much more likely to be skilled at Black hair styles, because that isn’t often taught in cosmetology schools or required by state certification boards. Is every Black hairdresser guaranteed to provide high-quality services? No, probably not, but at least some people consider this to be integral information about a hair salon.

Yes, some entrepreneurs market their identities as a gimmick. That’s capitalism, and it isn’t limited to minority status. But trends like “buy local”, patronizing minority-owned businesses, and shopping at farmers markets aren’t really about transactional value. They’re intended to help sustain a local economy and build a sense of community. Like a lot of trends, they may not fulfill all the lofty promises all the time.

As a mapper, I frequently encounter stuff that I lack the personal experience to pass judgment on, so I map what I can observe and move on. I think the basic question raised at the top of the thread is whether we can expect the same degree of humility on the part of mappers who have even less local context.


While I think this is a relevant example. For hair salons we would do well to more explicitly tag whether they work with textured hair than leave data consumers to infer it from ownership tagging. But that’s another tagging conversation all together…


It is not. It is about the owner. The owner can change and the place can stay the same.


As stated previously, I find this sort of things disturbing because the only use for it would be racism or sexism (one cannot discriminate “in favor” or certain groups without discriminating against other groups) and because, indeed, it deeply reminds me of previous historic symbols enforced upon certain communities with the puprose of discriminating against them. In many place of the world, think about the anti Mulsmim and anti Christian riots in India, this sort of information could be used for targetting puspose.

On the other hands, if these characteristics are advertised by the businesses, why not?

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A good idea. Key choice makes it clear that the tag does not apply to just any business that happens to be owned by someone of the specified demographic. Although:

Perhaps something a bit more generic that can encompass various different media where this information may be verified:


Or as a multi-value key:


I support tagging this information for businesses that have selected to advertise themselves as such. I see it as identical to tagging shops that have a “we deliver” sign in the window or their website as delivery=yes. FWIW, there’s already folks creating indexes of businesses with these kinds of categorization for the purpose of supporting those businesses and making them more visible/searchable/etc.

I don’t have a strong opinion on the tagging scheme but so far prefer the “advertised” version to the “signage” suggestion.


Agree, with the addition of a compulsory additional tag advertised:source=* (*=sign, website, etc.) so it will be easy to verify the source of the advertised information and keep it up to date.


we should only tag it if the venue advertises it as that, rather than trying to hunt down private information. If a large mine advertises themselves as “woman owned! :princess:”, then yes we should map that. Since people want to record this, and search by it, it belongs in OSM IMO.

there is more between they advertise it and hunting down private information, e.g. ownership could have to be made public and is openly available despite they do not use it for advertising.

If it is free for minorities to attract customers based on race or other criteria then it is also free for others to boycott such places. Therefore I think that it is a good idea to map such owners and their characteristics because it enables users to make their own choices. People who want to steer clear of left-wing virtue-signallers should be able to do so. If they want to boycott such venues out of existence, well that’s their right. We shouldn’t patronise our users who found their own way to fight discrimination and racism. They may firmly believe that pro-minority equals anti-white. We should enable them to make their own choices. In my country this is called “voting with the wallet.”

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I thought OSM is a map service, not a recommendation service.

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also while they might be now publishing the information voluntarily, it could backfire once a racist government gets into power

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A map shows the way, i.e. tells people where to go (or not to go).

It could even happen unrelated to the government as seen by the sectarian riots in India.

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Normally I would say if a business is advertising itself as owned by someone in a certain group of people, it’s mappable. But there’s a complication specific to the types of groups we see, in that they’re protected characteristics. The OSMF Terms of use prohibit transmitting information like personal data revealing racial or ethnic origin, or a number of other protected criteria. This is because if you collect a database of this information, you are subject to additional legal requirements.

This is similar to how although individuals can disclose their racial or ethnic origin, collecting that into a database is not legal unless you take special measures when handling the data.

I recommend asking the LWG if this is allowed.


While mapping existing advertising poster would represent the groud truth, the whole idea of enabling racist or sexist discrimination in one direction or another remains disturbing.