Wiki translation should follow English version?

Do translations for common wiki pages like Map Features should follow what is on English version? Or they can be extended or improved?

In fact, I have included some extra tags (in use or de facto) in the Spanish version that are not in the English version. These tags were added via TagList instead of defining regular tables. Recently, the user Fred73000 (Talk) is telling me that translations should follow what is on English version, and he is deleting tags on Spanish version that are not in English.

I don’t see very appropriate to delete the work from other users, and finally this is hiding information by removing links from known lists. This causes to have orphans tags.

La página en español debe ser una traducción fiel de la versión de referencia en inglés. Si se desea incluir información adicional, se debería incluir también en la versión de referencia comentándolo previamente con la comunidad.

Véase Traducción del wiki y Wikiproyecto Traducción en español para más detalles.

I would say that tag description should match English version, but there is nothing wrong with providing more info. Especially location specific.

For example Polish page about amenity=bar may have extra info that English word “bar” and Polish word “bar” are false friends and have different meaning.

Though ideally one would keep generally useful info in sync. Also, local community can limit themself to being exact translation of English pages, I guess, if there is strong consensus for that.


Translations definitely shouldn’t contradict the English text because that would lead people to use tags in incompatible ways depending on which language version they happened to read.

Differences in page organization and structure, extra explanations or warnings about potential misunderstandings aren’t inherently problematic and can occasionally be useful. However, they may increase the risk of contradictions being introduced by accident – including later on, because they make it harder to keep translations in sync with changes in the original.

Therefore I would suggest being cautious about such differences and limit them to situations where there are strong reasons for them, not just, say, differences in taste between the authors of the two versions.


With cuisines, we’re literally talking about differences in taste. :yum:

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I am not saying something about contradicting English. The Map Features should show the info from the Keys and Tags wiki pages, not its own information (redundant).
In fact, the issue is from the TagList usage for some Templates. English version stopped converting Templates from wikitables to TagList, and this is the reason the maintenance has become a pain, and it is easily outdated.
Not all English Templates have been converted into TagList, and this is the source of the problem: Taginfo/Taglists/Wiki project - OpenStreetMap Wiki

In may opinion, all Templates should use TagList like “amenity=*”

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maybe they should rather be added to the English version as well?

cuisine=barbecue which was removed has 5900 uses.

I generally aree that we should strive to have the documentation saying similar things through all the languages, it does not mean every place has to be the same or that we use “western” definitions for tags. For example a shop=bakery is a place where you can buy bread. These may look completely different in different regions, and according to the area you might get different kind of bread. But all of them sell bread. If the community of Absurdistan decides to map shops selling sandcastles as shop=bakery, we should encourage them to use a different tag.
Region specific usage should be documented, but not only on a local language page, ideally we would pick up the things from the different language pages and have it flow into the English version (if agreement can be reached)

The documentation of the keys or tags is unique. Translations should be a true reflection of the original. There should not be a different version for each language. If there are local peculiarities, they should be specified on the local community pages. Changes affecting the documentation should be discussed with the community and added to the reference page so that they can be translated into other languages as well.

Sometimes including on the documentation page some different usages in different parts of the world can help to better understand the documentation or the scope of a tag/key. These usages should appear in all languages because they are illustrative for the whole community. If something is considered too specific to a locale or not relevant to the community at large, it can be noted on the local community guidelines pages.

All too often I have had discussions with users modifying key or tag documentation to suit their country or region. For some reason, not a few users seem to assume that their language pages can be freely modified by their local community. This is a bad practice and is not desirable for the OpenStreetMap community nor for the people working on the translation of the wiki. The documentation on the use of tags or keys is and should be unique. Translations should be faithful to the original documentation.

Recommending a free translation of the documentation or adapted to the needs of a local community is not a good idea. Please use your community pages to indicate the peculiarities of your region and translate the documentation pages of the keys and tags faithfully. We are a global community and those documentation pages should be unique for everyone.

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I generally agree with that, but the solution is not always removing from the longer version. In the example of the cuisine tag, removing Spanish definitions for the only reason that they are not present on the English page, despite the tags being used significantly, is harmful and not helpful. Add these to the English page as well.


True. But I still remember lots of times I read documentation pages and applying the information, only to discover later that my local community had made choices on how exactly to use the instructions. I would have preferred to see the Dutch consensus on the main wiki page, in the form of a summary or a reference. If there is a Dutch page I definitely wish to see the Dutch consensus asap.
In practice, the translation usually adds the Dutch interpretation in the text. “In Nederland, we have agreed to use nodes for featureX”.

I believe we should follow the EN main documentation, and if the Dutch usage is really different I try to steer in the right direction, that is, return to bandwidth allowed by the main pages. But it also works in the other direction. If an area of mapping is more developed in a country than the main documentation, the main documentation should at some time reflect this development.

For example Polish page about amenity=bar may have extra info that English word “bar” and Polish word “bar” are false friends and have different meaning.

Are you claiming that this cannot be added to Pl:Tag:amenity=bar - OpenStreetMap Wiki ? Or that it should be mentioned in all languages? Or that Bar mleczny - Wikipedia should be mentioned in all languages just because it is useful to mention it on Polish page?

Neither makes sense to me.


It is the responsibility of each contributor to know and follow the tagging guidelines, both general and local. Each country/region has its own. See Category:Tagging guidelines by country on the wiki.

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I am saying that translations should be a faithful reflection of the original and that any changes to the reference page should be discussed with the community and then translated into all languages.

I strongly disagree with that and I do not believe it to be a global consensus.

I agree with it as far as meaning of tags is defined.

I disagree for additional context, mentioning “bar mleczny” in French translation is utterly pointless and confusing without benefit and waste of translation effort.


That’s your opinion. What I have said (I will not insist more on it), is that any change in the reference page must be previously discussed with the community and then translated into all languages.

That a local community (or a contributor) can decide on its own what changes to make in the translation of a documentation page is not desirable if we want to maintain common tagging guidelines and make the work of the wiki translators consistent.

Please use the wiki pages dedicated to local guidelines for local tagging specifications.

I agree that both opinions are our opinions.

This topic about 1:1 matches vs exact translations was discussed also in Proposed features/Add Translate extension to Wiki - OpenStreetMap Wiki and based on this it seems that both versions have some support.

Absolutely. This is one of the reasons why I have progressively stopped working on the OSM Wiki after dedicating many hours to the Spanish translation.

It is completely useless to reason with users who follow their own criteria when entering information in the key and tag documentation pages. Keeping translations faithful to the original so that we all follow the same guidelines is a waste of time when a local community or even an individual user can decide on their own to modify your work to suit their tastes or needs.

I almost don’t follow the Spanish pages. I prefer pages in English only. At least there I know that I can find accurate documentation not subject to the whims of this or that local community or this or that user who cares little about taking care of the translations in the wiki.

Where your work is not welcome, don’t waste your time trying to collaborate.

I support both and I hope for a workable middle ground. That’s OSM, I think.

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I wonder if the middle ground is to faithfully translate the EN version into the main body of the article, but allow for a “location/language specific” section in each article if required.

This way the translated EN version is faithfully shown in the article and can be updated when the EN version is updated without conflict. But the local community clarifications (such as @Mateusz_Konieczny 's Polish bar example) can be kept separately updated too.

Seems like a lot of work though… :sweat_smile:


Question is, who does the updating? Translators come and go, and localised wiki users don’t automatically know when there’s an update to the EN page. In the end, the usual OSM-wiki jungle always wins!