Proposal - Language and location based content and categories

Coming from the current Country forum in Germany my response would be: Without country categories we would loose current contributors which appreciate looking at content and discussing with folks who know in country regulations and are not confused and disconnected when discussing country specific challenges. So not having a country specific forum to me is a problem we currently don’t have. And as we all would most likely have known … the World is very diverse … :wink:

Yes, you are right. Now I think it makes more sense to have country forums. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this, @nukeador!

Makes sense. Language category might not be super useful if we there are country forums.


Thanks everyone for the comments. I think we brought a very key open question:

How do we allow collaboration and avoid silos and at the same time provide a nice experience with spaces for location-based discussions and more general conversations?

I’m wondering if there are other open data organizations/projects with this very same problem and we think they solved it nicely. Or maybe there is not a single solution but a balance between the two?

We’ll also want to support location-based communities for smaller entities. For example, there are a few dozen German mailing lists for individual states, regions and cities. These are mostly very low-traffic, but we should offer an easy way for people to follow local news and conversations. There are similar examples from other countries.


Would a subcategory under a top-level country category solve for that? They can even start with tags if the volume is really low and transition to subcategory when needed.


Since I’m not sure I understand the full consequences of the exchanges that have followed this question, I’ll take another example.

France is a major tourism destination, and for instance we get a lot of foreign contributors who add hiking routes. Including some we’d rather not include, because of unresolved intellectual property issues with the local hiking federation.

In this example, what are the best candidates for discussing the issue?

  • a French-speaking “outdoors” category where French, Swiss and other contributors have their day to day activity. This category already exists on the French server.
  • an English-speaking “outdoors” category where French “ambassadors” sometimes post messages about our local issues?
  • or an English-speaking “France” category with the above ambassadors?

Sorry if I confuse the issue, especially by not mentioning tags. I’m not yet clear about how they combine with categories.

One topic/post :

  • can only be in 1 category/subcategory
  • can have as many tags you want

You can list topics or get notified by category/subcategory or tags, the mechanisms is more or less the same.

I’m sure OSM contributors can use tags very efficiently here, as they are familiar with tagging in OSM.
We just need to explain how they work because it is something unusual in other forums and communications channels.
We should also list/document common tags, to make them easily reusable… something we are also familiar with.

Moderator, can also update tags on topics.


OK, understood. And I’ve also found somewhere the analogy between Discourse categories and walls: a few make a house, a lot make a maze. That, plus the fact that there is only one level of categories in Discourse.

Now, what is not 100% clear to me yet is the associated user experience, in terms of 1) discovery, 2) everyday access and navigation, 3) filtering. These three subjects are not independent, but I can imagine user scenarios for each.

Definitely we need to optimize for the user experience, so we have some assumptions that will need to be tested in real conditions, probably we won’t have the best approach at once. Good that it’s easy to move things around here and adapt.

In the medium term I would like to see groups of people or even communities interested in user experience (UX), not only for these community forums, but for OSM in general.

🌐 Español

¿Qué idioma deberían tener las etiquetas en las categorías de idioma? Es decir, si yo por ejemplo creo una publicación en la categoría de español acerca de rutas ciclistas, ¿puedo usar la etiqueta “ciclismo” (en español) o debo usar la etiqueta “cycling” (en inglés)? En el primer caso impediría que se pudiesen buscar fácilmente conversaciones con ese mismo tema en otros idiomas, y en el segundo caso podría dificultar el uso de las etiquetas a los no angloparlantes. Lo ideal creo que sería que las etiquetas fuesen localizables de manera que cada usuario las viera en su propio idioma (el que tenga configurado en los ajustes), no sé si Discourse permite eso.

(Por cierto, me ha gustado esta idea de incluir traducciones adicionales de un post en un spoiler)

In which language should the tags be used in language categories? For example, if I create a post in the Spanish category about cycling routes, can I use the tag “ciclismo” (in Spanish) or should I use the tag “cycling” (in English)? In the first case it would prevent people from easily being able to search for threads with that same subject across languages, and in the second case it could make it difficult for non-English speakers to use the tags. I think the ideal would be for the tags to be localisable so that each user could see them in their own language (the one that is set in preferences), I don’t know whether Discourse supports this.

(By the way, I liked this idea of including additional translations of a post in a spoiler).

🌐 Español

He estado buscando y no he encontrado una forma sencilla de localizar etiquetas. Algunas personas sugieren que el uso de la etiqueta en inglés + la localizada ayudaría a la visibilidad en tu idioma y a nivel mundial.

I’ve been looking around and I haven’t found a simple way to localize tags. Some people suggests that using the English + localized tag would help discoverability in your language and at the global level.

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In NL we have a small sub-forum that is only for a small group of mappers that import buildings from Dutch authorities (BAG) by using a JOSM plugin, developed and distributed by Dutch BAG plugin developers.
The discussion and distribution of this plugin is quite advanced and the group is quite careful their members (and only write in Dutch language). We have no other way of communicating.

This might be a good opportunity to review the need for that sub-forum to be closed (not here in this thread obviously). Well-intended, It does go against the spirit of OpenStreetMap. The reasons for keeping it closed (avoid having novice mappers unintentionally damage the map with a powerful plugin) are not as valid as they once were, because importing data from Dutch BAG/BGT sources is something any developer can develop tools for, and the source code for the BAG plugin is open as well (you have to build it yourself though).

The phrasing of the subject may make language and location look a bit like synonyms. I beg to differ. Especially, as long as location is taken as given by nation state borders.

Obviously, people need a means to talk shop (Fachsimpeln in German) in their native language: Asking questions about diverse topics, from concise tagging, over simple editor to complex API issues; Seeking advice from a larger audience when conflicts cannot be settled in changeset discussions; And so on. It is a matter of accessibility.

Where does that leave us with “location”? Unlike “language”, it is much more difficult to nail this down. Splitting by country code makes sense where legal differences apply. Sometimes, this is much too coarse, while at the same time deeply separates regions that may benefit from integration.

3 posts were split to a new topic: Dutch BAG/BGT discussion

A recent statistic about the most active forum channels gave the following number of posts:

Germany 322015
Russia 266242
Netherlands 66060
Poland 58439
Ukraine 16520

Judging from this Top 5, there are some languages still missing in the planned list.

Side subject : is it possible technically to display the languages understood and spoken by a user ?

Like Babel user information

We could “share” these translations/concept in the knowledge base (aka DataItems)

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Why not fill our profile with this ?


A post was split to a new topic: Site URL to “communities”

While we are discussing this, the first language-oriented topic has been created: Netherlands+Belgium (dutch)

Any chance we can implement a consistent scheme before things become too complex?

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