Renaming WDPA_ID:ref to ref:WDPA

This tag, WDPA_ID:ref, is an identificator for protected areas and national parks, that is, boundary=protected_area.

As it’s discussed in the wiki talk this tag format should be standarized into the common way ref:XXX, here it would be ref:WDPA (or lowercase, ref:wdpa, as you prefer).

This is a main call for the german community, as they gather the most of the current IDs, as we can check in taginfo:

Such renaming would take:


Updates made

This is changing a 9 years old, documented and well established key with several thousand uses to a key that was used only 74 times.
There was no discussion. No deprecation of the old key.
I think, this should be reverted immediately.


This is about key normalization. All changes has been done worldwide and wikipedias updated accordingly. There’s no presence of the old key right now.

This topic has been posted days ago and even shared in the German Telegram. No further reactions beyond likes. There’s no reason to complain once this has been done properly nor rollbacking to a random-name key when the community has established an specific format for references.


You can not just replace a widely used tag from one second to the next.
There is the deprecation process for this.

There was nothing wrong with WDPA_ID:ref except that its name wasn’t perfect. It was the documented way of tagging protected areas.
There are dozens of other tags that have bad names or even missleading names. Even the “ref” wiki page documents many keys that don’t fit the ref:* pattern.

That’s the worst thing to do for data consumers:

There wasn’t even a wiki-entry for WDPA:ref before this!

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For the avoidance of doubt, should have been followed here.

Avoiding surprised and angry reactions like the above is one of the main reasons why that document exists and must be followed.

To be clear, Document and discuss your plans makes it very clear where you should do that, and what else you should do. It doesn’t look like you did any of that apart from a post in “Tagging General Discussion” (here), which I suspect many people affected by this change will not notice.

– Andy (from the DWG)

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It was not meant to sound angry :slightly_smiling_face:

I would totally support database cleanup, normalization, etc. if we had something like a stable API or at least a machine readable announcement system (“On 2024_01_01 following changes will be made to the database: WDPA_ID:ref=* → ref:WDPA, …”).
But we don’t have those. So every change of tagging patterns has to be a slow and organic process to not instantly break someones usecase.

For example taginfo lists the project tag2link which generates weblinks based on OSM-keys:{value of WDPA_ID:ref}
By replacing the key with ref:WDPA this got broken and was fixed some hours ago.
(Reverting the changes will of course brake this again…)