Why can't I delete this trail?

I agree. Not a native English speaker, I read that title a bit like: Why is it a bad idea to delete this trail/path? instead of …

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Some pondering later, not a good idea. Decommissioned does not say much about what is on the ground. Abandoned=yes perhaps?

I don’t like to use the word decommissioned when attributing a trail that is no longer. The OSM Lifecycle Prefix wiki provides a good set of these options, such as disused:highway=path, abandoned:highway=path, or removed:highway=path.

These prefixes prevent most any map from showing the feature at all and yet leave the object in the database to prevent another mapper from adding it back in over outdated imagery or other data. It is a positive way to say that the trail is no longer there, as opposed to deleting it, which leaves the door open that there could be a trail there.


I think the wiki page needs some comparison images (And I think that was the intention of the “what will it look like” part).
I tried uploading a screenshot of OpenStreetMap to the wiki, but was not able to do so.

I think that area is a good example, as it has a large area of private tagging, and a large area that is public. I think we should use the same area for screenshots of other apps.
We may need to find a similar location with regular roads instead of paths.

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To this point, perhaps a more neutral tone would be conveyed with:

When should I remove a trail from the map?

This conveys a neutral tone and implies (correctly) that there are times when removal is warranted (real examples: fantasy edit, there isn’t actually a trail there, someone’s personal scramble route, etc).


The wiki page is of good quality and seems quite helpful.


If your wiki account is relatively new, your account may be temporarily restricted from uploading files. In general, we prefer that you upload images to Wikimedia Commons, where they can be reused across a variety of wikis. Think of it as an opportunity to spread OSM’s influence to the rest of the wiki ecosystem. When uploading a screenshot of an OSM-based map there, use {{ODbL OpenStreetMap}} as a custom license to comply with OSM’s attribution requirements.

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I agree, for the reasons given. (I gave the page its current title, pretty hastily.) Should we go ahead and perform the move?

I like the current title. It answers the question that a land manager will have when they want to delete a trail and are told they can’t (or shouldn’t). I think the tone is appropriate. Deleting good data from the map is a serious matter.

We should be careful with the language we use in order to be as clear as possible. To some land managers, any trail that is not official, “isn’t actually a trail.” I have seen changes where a land manager has deleted a trail or track that does exist and the changeset comment said something to the effect “not a trail”, even though it was clearly visible in overhead imagery.

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That’s fair and I probably wouldn’t disagree with that view. I could absolutely see someone say “there’s a path there but it isn’t a trail,” with “trail” having the meaning of something like “part of the blazed trail system in this area.” What I meant was something like “there isn’t a path physically present on the ground here.”

I tried to read the text from the point of view of someone who knows hardly anything about OSM, but does not want a trail/path/whatever to be used by outsiders, and thinks that removing it from the map will help. The main point to explain should be that the map can say that a trail/… is not accessible to the public, which is not evident for such a person, but which now only becomes clear after reading quite a lot of text. I think it should be made clear from the very beginning. “Roads are put on the map even if there is no public access, and the map tells people they can’t go there.” Something like that in the first paragraph.