Tag to use for permanent political signs

Hi everyone I need your help, it’s about tag creation !

I’m trying to find the right tag to create to describe a particular object. A spoke about thoses objects (these are permanent political signs often in China, North Korea, and Vietnam) :

I’m thinking to change the tag for a new one, maybe “man_made=slogan_sign” or idk “information=political_sign”…

What will be the good key and the good value ? does “man_made=” is good ? Or does it will be “information=” or “adverstising=” ?
And what will be best value “sign”, “slogan_sign”, “political_sign” or another ?

Should I use two tags like “advertising=sign” + “message=political” ?

Thank in advance !


I would avoid using terms like “propaganda” as they generally carry negative connotations. And the wiki page you created (https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:man_made%3Dsign) seems to have a noticeable political bias.

What’s wrong with information=board that already exists?

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Personally, I would definitely try to use “advertising=sign” + “message=political”.


many of them are not information boards, like examples that were linked

note that it is missing “political propaganda” part, so if you want to specifically map that info then some extra is needed

also, it is missing info about monumental size and I guess that mapping this may be useful…

(man_made=sign is clearly for signs in general, I used it already for some cases in past)


also note that many such things are not signs but rather paintings / mural art, sometimes also permanent because part of the architecture (e.g. facade or window decorations), sculptures, busts, etc.

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Yes I removed this mention from the title of this topic and on the wiki page which does not provide the necessary information and which is subjective

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First, I’m cautious about giving examples from specific countries. I don’t want to be disrespectful to members of those countries.

I am a strong proponent of the ‘manmade=sign’ tag.
I don’t know how ‘advertising’ is interpreted in different countries, but I think the examples below are neither advertising nor information.
Furthermore, OSM believes that the properties of a feature are more important than its semantics and should come first.

태국 국왕 초상

How could you possibly tag something like this?
Would you be able to tag this feature with ‘man_made=advertising + advertising=board’?
(Thai people, Vietnamese people can easily agree with that? Would people in China accept that a sign with Mao’s face on it is categorized as an ‘advertising’ key?)

I’d rather use ‘sign’, which is more of a physical attribute, than ‘advertising’, which is more of a usage attribute.
So ultimately, I think we should either merge or replace it with ‘sign’, which is more of a physical attribute, or if that’s not possible, we should redefine and reorganize the ‘sign’ and ‘advertising’ tags.


@adreamy , I’m not sure what the advertising is for. To me, the boards in the last two pictures are like pieces of art. Even though I can’t read Vietnamese or understand the text, they make me feel happy when I look at them. The artwork is cool, and the people in the pictures are smiling. It would be so diminishing to put just man_made=sign on those beauties.

These are quite clearly propaganda (though I can imagine someone inventing elaborate way to argue otherwise). What makes them also special kind of advertising (though I can imagine classifying things differently).

Classifying them as poster/sign with a political message should be sufficient and would be inarguably true.


With the caveat that I’m not from Vietnam, all three examples from there look a lot like artwork to me. Works of art often carry overt political messages, regardless of who commissions them.

Vietnam also hangs banners (biểu ngữ) that primarily feature political slogans and logos. Those look a lot more like advertising. However, I think they’re usually temporary, to promote an upcoming event or commemorate a festival.

I think you hit on a pretty important point.

It may look like a work of art to some, it may look like an advertisement to some, it may look like propaganda to some.
And that’s why I don’t think we should give it the benefit of the doubt.
It physically has the attribute of being a ‘signboard’.
As a sub-property of that, it can be a work of art, it can be an advertisement, it can be propaganda.

Physically, state propaganda can take many forms, from banners to boxes to billboards. They can be murals and flowerbeds. I think we should continue to allow for the possibility that a painting can carry a political message, just as a topiary garden can, but that doesn’t mean we have to shoehorn every piece of propaganda into the art world just because it’s coated in paint.

A generic “sign” tag independent of its message would be quite useful, not only for propaganda. However, the last time someone attempted to document a similar tag, about funding signs, it wound up as advertising=sign message=funding because man_made=* isn’t gender-neutral.

The distinction between message and subject could also be interesting. Two murals could literally depict the same thing, with one being a commercial advertisement while the other is a political statement.

man_made=* isn’t gender-neutral.

man_made is gender-neutral, it refers to mankind and comprises women, men and other human and huwoman and various diverse forms of identity. Manslaughter doesn’t mean there weren’t females victims, does it?
Let’s not get sidetracked by meaningless discussions, gender equality cannot be reached by artificially manipulating the language.


Okay but what does this have to do with permanent political signs?

It was only a heads-up that a concern about man_made’s gender-neutrality comes up any time someone tries to establish a new value for that key.

The funding sign idea was very similar to the proposed man_made=sign originally, just a little more specific. It wound up using message=funding but with advertising=board, which might need to be revisited in light of this man_made=sign proposal. (Funding signs only kind of advertise in the sense that they promote an organization or program.)

Okay! so for now I think I’ll recommend using {{tag|man_made|sign}} with {{tag|message|political}}, and I’ll change “man_made” to the new word when consensus for a new word is found.

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By the way, that discussion also brought up a distinction between advertising=sign and advertising=board. However, I don’t know if it’s important enough of a distinction to make via man_made=sign and man_made=board. Anyways it seems unlikely that a 3D renderer would be able to make much sense out of either tag without more detailed tagging like message, height, support, etc.

I agree. The word “advertising” to me means that the exposure for commercial activity/gain, i.e. “commercial propaganda”. If it is political in nature (like pictures by @adreamy probably are), “political propaganda” would make sense to me. If it is a mural with Jesus and angels or text from gospels, it is “religious propaganda”.

Any of those may be just plain text, or it may be graffiti, or it may be mural or some other kind of artwork. If it is artwork, at least there is Key:artwork_type - OpenStreetMap Wiki

it would be nice if wiki-templates like those worked in this forum !

Some notable things-which-could-be-described-as-signs from the US and UK/Ireland:

  • Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas, currently tagged tourism=recreation
  • Hollywood Sign, tagged as a node with tourism=attraction, plus each letter tagged as tourism=artwork artwork_type=sculpture
  • Free Derry Corner, once text on a wall of a building, now the rest of the building has been demolished but the wall (and its text) remains. Tagged historic=monument
  • Cofiwch Dryweryn (node 6211918213), text on a stone wall (pretty clearly permanent; repainted and in one case rebuilt after many cases of vandalism, per Wikipedia), currently tagged historic=memorial

For the American examples, man_made=sign seems very appropriate; for the UK/Irish ones, I’m less sure.

As someone who is bilingual, I will note here that the word - propaganda - may carry a different connotation in other languages than English. At least in the context of Brazilian Portuguese, it is a category word and could refer to any type of advertisement or directed messaging and is not necessarily political.

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