I want to see it

rweait's picture
The Large Hadron Collider, tagged for the renderer. Don't do this.

I want to see it. I want to see it on the map. That's why I map things. So I can see them on the map.

This is a feeling that is common among mappers, and a common and valuable motivation for excellent surveys and data collection. There is a caveat attached to this motivation though.

OpenStreetMap is not just one map. OpenStreetMap is a collection of data. And that data is used by different people to create vast multitudes of different maps for different audiences and purposes. The mapper who give too much attention to how a particular object is portrayed on one map, may naively restrict the use of that object in many others. Or they may mislead data users in unexpected ways.

The example above is a fine example of misusing OpenStreetMap data for effect. The LHC tunnels were mapped as highways in tunnels, so that they would show up. A nice party trick, to be sure. And now the ideal example of what not to do. The history is covered in more detail on the OpenStreetMap Wiki

As mappers, we have to strive to get beyond concern for what a particular object looks like on a particular rendering. We must strive to map as best we can, based on the ground truth, and tempered by best practice, and common practice in the global project. So, check your tagging with taginfo, and with your other local mapping friends. Survey and map your neighbourhood and the places that are important to you. Map the things that are permanent, verifiable and significant.

Strive to improve every OpenStreetMap object that you touch, for the greater benefit of all of the various renderers, and apps, and routers, and geocoders. And users. And mappers. Especially for the other mappers.


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