[Pre-RFC] Honesty Boxes, Roadside Stands, Booths


During a discussion the German OSM community forum (in German), a problem arose that no one could really solve satisfactory. How to properly map and tag honesty boxes? This is not a RFC, but rather a place for discussion

For the uninitiated: A honesty box is often found in rural/remote places. Local residents, farmers, shopkeepers et cetera offer goods with some sort of weather protection. There oftentimes is a box where you put in the cash you owe them for taking their goods. No one is around to verify this, it is trust based. Hence the name. Mapping them is valuable for hikers and locals alike.

Here are Wikimedia Commons images.

Here is a list of examples and the way they are tagged:

The wiki does not specify a way of mapping.

I think we should agree on a common mapping scheme and document it in the wiki. As far as I can see, there are at least three different approaches:

  • Adding the tag payment=honesty_box to the existing object (vending_machine or shop=farm?)
  • Adding the tag amenity=vending_machine, self_service=yes
  • A new amenity, like amenity=honesty_box or amenity=sales_booth,…

And to get a quick overview, here is a (non-representative) poll:

  • I do not belive that there is an issue with the way honesty boxes are handled currently.
  • There is a problem, and we should add a new amenity for honesty boxes.
  • There is a problem and we should resort to existing tags, but combine them in a certain way.
  • There is a problem, but none of the approaches here are satisfying.
0 voters

(I will try to update the text with opinions from the comments.)

1 Like

The discussion you linked was not the only one in regard of this issue, and in one of them an argument against tagging honesty boxes explicitely was that by making them visible in OSM it could well be a temptation for not so honest people to take advantage of the easily accessible cash, even if it is not that much.

For hikers it does not make any difference how a payment at a roadside stand has to be made (to a person or into a honesty box) - important is mainly the information which kind of payment is accepted. And locals know where these objects are found, specially in countryside surrounding where most of these stands are placed.

I agree that we should have a proper tag for the roadside stand itself (instead of misusing vending_machine for those) but I’d say a separate tag for honesty boxes would not do much good.

And yes, I am aware that we CAN map any physical object OTG but that does not mean we MUST tag every object.


Thank you for your reply!

Could you maybe provide links to the other discussions? That’d be interesting.

I understand. So you would like to loosen the phrasing of the tag and its scope? I think a wiki entry and tagging guidelines would be the most important goals here, to achieve consistency. We should definitely add the opening_hours=24/7 tag though (which is applicable to almost all honesty boxes) to indicate that there are no opening hours at all.

How about a more general amenity= with options for payment:cash and opening_hours. Maybe add the optional honesty_box=yes, if people really want to map it as such (which I wouldn’t require, but also wouldn’t discourage)?

For honest users of honesty boxes the important part is that you need to pay with cash.

I would tag them as vending machines without special tags indicating that these are honesty boxes.

(yes, I am fine with treating them as poorly automated vending machines - I guess that tagging them as self-service shops would also work)


Is your question about how to tag the roadside stand or about how to tag the honesty box itself / the payment method?

The first one in the Wikimedia Commons pictures is mapped in a lot of detail, as shop=farm self_service=yes and appropriate payment tags e.g. payment:cash=yes, payment:credit_cards=no, etc. (No amenity=vending_machine tag)

That looks fine to me. I checked one (small) area I am familiar with and it seems that this is not only the main way they are tagged, but also one of the main ways the tag shop=farm is used (because there are more roadside stands with honesty boxes than there are farm shops where you go inside a building and talk to someone).

I also checked the Wiki and it says for shop=farm, “It could also be used for a roadside produce stand.” That sentence, or a variation of it, has been in there since 2013.

Well, both really. Moreso how to tag the stand though.

  1. My bad. I did not actually read the wiki for shop=farm.
  2. The problem is, that not all of them are associated with a farm or agriculture at all. In (rural) Scotland there were many “stands”/honesty boxes that are from the local bakery or cottage or just friendly residents next to the road/along famous hiking routes. To those shop=farm doesn’t really apply. Are you proposing shop=yes for them?

Just want to throw in a comment regarding payment methods; in Sweden these types of stands aren’t guaranteed to take cash (though they are one of a few cases where cash still is regularly used). Instead, payment using the Swish app is increasingly common (payment:swish=yes), which could be very important information for tourists as they rarely have that app.

So whatever definition for the stands this thread ends up with, it should require cash as a payment method.

1 Like

This also applies in Denmark, as you can see.

Hier trifft beides zu. Es ist ein Gebäude mit shop=farm, Selbstbedienung und bezahlen per Kasse des Vertrauens. Zusätzlich befinden sich im Gebäude Automaten mit Geldeinwurf bzw Kartenzahlung.

I think the main difference between these small stalls and “normal” shops (in German “Geschäften”) is, that the offered goods are stored outside - this is usually not expected with shops in daily life. shop=* in combination with location=outdoor could be a possibility to describe this situation.

With this approach, the wide variety of shop=* could be used for these small stands and there would be no need to introduce a new tag. shop=* would then apply to all kinds of retail sales, except vending machines.

1 Like

Is this a typo and you mean “the definition shouldn’t require cash as a payment method”?
If yes, I agree.

Ok, so far, the consensus seems to be:

  • No new tag (you convinced me of that as well)
  • It has nothing to do with payment methods (i.e. those are tagged seperately and are not implied)
  • A tendency to use shop=* and tag it additionally with self_service=yes, opening_hours=24/7(if applicable).

How would everyone feel about that?

1 Like

Yep, typo.

it works for me

I doubt that it makes sense to stretch an existing tag to make it fit for these small roadside stands. They are not really “shops” and in many cases have nothing to do with “farm”, as you mentioned already.

A farm shop usually is a real small shop operated by a farm, either in a small wooden cabin or using a covered trailer or such, offering quite a wide range of farm procuce and products. That is something entirely different than a small roadside self-service stand.

If we want to use the “shop” key for these, we should use a value which makes clear what it is, like

shop=booth or shop=road_stand or the like.

By doing so we would ensure that every road stand could get the same main tag, independent from the kind of goods sold. For everything else like type of payment accepted, self-service, opening hours, products/produce sold etc. there are established tags already.


Without getting ahead of ourselves here, what would be the next step (assuming all agree)? The end goal is to create a wiki page documenting how to tag those stands. Do we need an entire Proposal process for that or do we (or rather I) just create the wiki page?

Ok, so the question is whether to use existing shop=* values that try to convey the type of goods sold there (e.g. vegetables, bread, drinks) or a new shop=booth (or whatever) that needs the information added what it sells (with vending=* goods=*?), but is clear about the type of shop it is.


1 Like

That seems reasonable, I like it a lot.

It seems like the major advantage of using shop would be to use the existing shop values that communicate the goods sold, as it would easily allow data consumers to treat a place that sells vegetables the same whether it be a traditional storefront or an unstaffed stand on the side of the road. They’d both be shop=greengrocer or shop=farm.

In the US, I’ve come across stands like those described here that could be reasonably be tagged with: shop=fuel, fuel=firewood, shop=bakery, shop=dairy, shop=art.

Something like shop=booth communicates a lot about the physical space used, but nothing about the goods sold, which seems at odds with most other values of shop. If there’s a strong desire to communicate that these are different than regular shops, seems like a separate tag (or just amenity=vending_machine?) would be the way to go.


This is correct, but you have to die one way or the other. Tagging the shops as you said would be fine but then we need a proper new tag to specify the kind of object being a small roadside stand and not a real shop nor a vending_machine.

Tagging the shop as roadside stand would make it necessary to tag the sold goods by

vending=firewood or bread or dairy_produces, or art etc.

As the range of products offered by a roadside stand is very limited I still believe this would be a good solution.