Wiki Status of tags: proposed or in-use (for low-usage ATYL)?

This is about how we document tags on, particularly about Status field.

I’ve noticed several times now at several unrelated tags that there seems to be disagreement about in use vs. proposed tags. I have hard time finding other instances now (of course), but last one was Key:bicycle:physical here.

In that particular case (as opposed to other that I’ve seen) it was I who’ve documented it as in use, as my reading of that status was that it is correct one to be used, due to e.g.:

  • Some in use tags may be only used in one country or by a small number of mappers.

however, that got changed to proposed (by @Zverik in this particular case, but by others in other cases, like @Maro21 IIRC) with comment 26 usages isn't what I'd call "in use")

While I definitely agree that 26 usages is quite low, I though that it was exactly the reason to use "in use", as if it was much more popular it would become de facto.

On the other hand, my reading of “proposed” status is that it is to be used when a tag that has been through proposal process (i.e. it has its own wiki page in Proposal: namespace which should be linked via statuslink property of KeyDescription/ValueDescription wiki template), but the voting has not started yet (when it would become voting, and that once it finishes, it would become approved or [formerly] rejected/abandoned).

However, as other (quite valued!) members of community seem to disagree, it may be that I am misreading that. So, the question for wider community:

If some tag was created via ATYL (and not via proposal process) and has small number of usages, should its status be "in use" or "proposed" (or perhaps some new status like "ATYL" or "sporadic" )?

To be clear: I’m not particularly defending either position, and would be happy to use whatever solution the community finds best, but would like consensus to be documented, so there is no confusion.


I would say that an ATYL tag that gets introduced and properly documented on the wiki is indeed in use.

For example, I recently documented footway=residential as a way to tag foot paths that go to and from residences. It solved a problem that I had and I didn’t feel the need to go through the proposal process. And if someone encounters the tag in the wild, they’ll have that documentation to see what it was that I intended with that tag.


This is a frequent point of contention on the wiki. I’m not sure it would be feasible to define a fair threshold between “in use” and “de facto” or between “in use” and something less. Some things are much less common in reality, so the threshold would need to be lower. marker=paddle is probably the least commonly mapped tag I’ve called “in use”. In reality, there are lots and lots of these markers, but it isn’t feasible to armchair-map them and even field-surveying them can be difficult. I think I’ve gotten away with calling it “in use” because it passes the sniff test: it’s used as widely as one could expect for a well-designed tag for something of this nature.

And yet, some of us in Slack expressed reservations about this tag within minutes of it being documented. This is not unusual when it comes to ATYL, so don’t take this as criticism. But I don’t think mappers find “in use” to be very meaningful if it can cover anything from a tag invented on a lark to something much more established, and if some nontrivial share of these tags have alternatives that go unmentioned.

We’re in this situation because folks didn’t want any tag to lack a status, and reclassifying someone’s innovative tag as seldom used would invite a confrontation that no one relishes.

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With taginfo (and the taginfo widget on wiki tag pages), the number of usages is already there for anyone that wants to see it. So encoding that information into discrete tag categories doesn’t seem very useful. It’s really in use versus de facto that’s the most contentious in its arbitrariness.

I would rather instead have proposal status.

Proposal status:

  1. (none)
  2. Approved
  3. Proposed
  4. Rejected
  5. Deprecated

Then you could mark a tag with regard to its proposal status OR indicate that the tag has never been the subject of a proposal. We don’t need to categorize the number of usages, that’s just a number that can plainly be seen.


I would consider tag used only few times (26 times worldwide) or by a single person to be “proposed” not “in use”.

Though I do not care so much about infobox field, and I guess that having “in use” for something used single time is not so bad.

that seems to put far too much focus on proposal process status and would encourage making proposal for clear de-facto tags.

I would rather have no status (maybe except “deprecated”) and show usage stats and link proposal page, if existing.

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This was my understanding too.

Agreed. It could also encourage zombie proposals, i.e., where a proposal is created but left in draft/never voted on. This would give a tag a “better” value than “none” (note not that I think it’s actually better, but it may appear so particularly to new mappers) but with no actual difference from just creating the Wiki documentation page.

I know this is technically still the case now too, but at least we have “in use” and “de facto” to mitigate the effect.

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We have seen a couple of examples of this recently - all mappers trying to “do the right thing” and thinking that they have to use some previously proposed tags, rather than just making a new suggestion and discussing it.

You’re right about putting too much focus on the proposal process. I think this is spot on. Thinking more about it, perhaps we need something more like:

  1. Approved (by proposal)
  2. Deprecated (by proposal or through community discussions or documented as an obvious mistake)
  3. A status that indicates that a tag is listed on the Map Features page. This might be a tag status or independent of tag status.
  4. All others have no status other than having the taginfo widget showing the usages
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it still would have unintentional effects

1) would still push people to make tag proposal for stuff like highway=service ( from looking at Tag:highway=service - OpenStreetMap Wiki it never went through proposal process)

3) would further push people to add low-use tags on Map features page

The Map Features page is heavily watched (not to mention a huge pain to edit because of the templates), so I don’t see it as a significant risk that Map Features gets polluted. It seems to me that either approval or a tag’s inclusion in Map Features is a pretty solid indication that a tag has achieved a threshold of adoption in the community. If not “Approved” as the word, I’d be fine with some other terminology.

I also don’t see people making stupid proposals to be a significant problem. The community regularly provides, uhh, pointed feedback :face_with_peeking_eye: in cases where someone does something dumb with a proposal.

The value in tag statuses is indicating to users whether using the tag would be considered mainstream or bespoke and/or potentially controversial. My main objection presently is that in use and de facto do not have a meaningful distinction (other than de facto is “better”).

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I’m kind of liking these terms much better, actually. Rather than categorizing tagging by proposal status, just categorizing a tag as either “mainstream” or “bespoke” (and maybe add a third category for “deprecated” or maybe “frowned upon”) I think identifies what a potential user of a tag actually needs to know.

This page doesn’t scale; it has already pushed past various MediaWiki limitations as it is. This should be only one possible “verification” badge for a tag.

Other indications of legitimacy could include inclusion in id-tagging-schema or usage by relevant data consumers. One can glean this information from taginfo as well, but it’s often quite difficult to find and software maintainers don’t always do a great job of declaring their support for tags.

On the other hand, we don’t want to unduly promote tagging for the renderer. And of course there’s the issue of circular reasoning as data consumers look to this status to decide what to support.


How about splitting that page up then?

Instead of one massive page full of tables (that, at least on my laptop, sometimes takes forever to load :roll_eyes:), split each of the sub-features i.e. aerialway, aeroway, amenity etc, off to their own individual page: “Aerialway Map Features”, which has the current aerialway template table on it, possibly expanded to include features that “won’t fit” on the main Features page?

If you want an automated listing of all the documented aerialway-related feature tags, there’s already a category for that (which the infoboxes call a “group”). A dedicated overview page about aerialways would be wonderful. It would go nicely with the dozens of existing overview pages (“feature descriptions”). If I had my druthers, the conventional tag pages would be aimed at data consumers whereas mappers would consult these overviews for the basics. But I don’t really see how inclusion on one of these pages would act as a seal of approval for a tag.

My thought was more about the comment that that page had grown too big, but that discussion needs a separate thread of it’s own!

But looking at some of the things that are currently listed on the Map Features page, amount of usage doesn’t seem to have prevented some tags being added, or them designated as “in-use”!
Tag:craft=candlemaker - OpenStreetMap Wiki = 7
Tag:craft=cooper - OpenStreetMap Wiki = 13 = 12 = 11 = 5
Tag:sport=cycle_polo - OpenStreetMap Wiki = 6
Tag:sport=dragon_boat - OpenStreetMap Wiki = 8

& created: Break Map Features page up into multiple pages?

I agree that it is not always easy to make a hard line between “de facto” and “in use”. However I also feel that:

  • introducing the new value like “sporadic” (for tags that are used even less than “in use” but are documented) would add additional line that is hard to define (e.g. it won’t be just “is that tag in-use or de-facto?”, but “is that tag sporadic or in-use or de-facto?”)
  • (ab)using “proposed” for tags that were never proposed (but are ATYL) is confusing (to say the least)
  • we should encourage people to document ATYL tags; and documenting that some documented tag is low-use ATYL tag is useful information, so we should put something in that tag status field.

So far I tend to lean towards “mark low-usage ATYL tags” as “in use” (as it is only status that fits, and has no strictly defined boundaries on number of users it must have).

So, which status to assign to low-usage documented ATYL tags (e.g. tens of uses)?

  • “in use” (as “very low usage” is still “in use”)
  • “proposed” (even as the tag was never proposed; but “in use” actually means “in significant use”)
  • some new status (name to be determined), to indicate “in very low use” (as opposed to “in use” which actually means “in significant use”)
  • no status, i.e. leave it undefined (even if it means users won’t know should they use it, and wiki editors won’t know which tags remain to be categorized)
  • something else (please leave comment as to what)
0 voters

We should, but maybe it doesn’t need to be documented in the form of a standard wiki page that can cause confusion regardless of the status indicator in the infobox.

Recently, there was a bit of consternation in Slack about a series of “in use” keys like “Key:destination:carriages” that sprang up overnight without any discussion. The author had good intentions: they wanted to explain a concept that’s difficult to encapsulate in a single keyword, and they had no particular unction to take it all the way through the formal proposal process. But in a situation like this, I would’ve advised them to still create the page as a (permanent) draft proposal in the Proposal: namespace, which they’ve now done. Alternatively, if it’s incomplete or has known issues, a page in their user space would suffice (example).

@nyuriks’ original, unrealized vision for data items was that someone could ATYL in an editor and the editor would prompt them for a one-liner explaining what they mean, and then the editor would stash that one-liner away in a data item. That didn’t pan out for a variety of reasons, but given the difficulty of creating one of these wiki pages in the first place, I think a streamlined workflow like what Yuri envisioned would more effectively address the problem of undocumented fly-by-night tags – assuming we even consider that to be a problem at all.

Who really cares about the status? At best, all it tells you is if some aspect of the tagging has been through the proposal process. What is more important is the taginfo data and how honest the page author has been in indicating if there are more commonly used tags for the same concept.