In Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI) projects, the tagging or annotation of objects is usually performed in a flexible and non-constrained manner. Contributors to a VGI project are normally free to choose whatever tags they feel are appropriate to annotate or describe a particular geographic object or place. In OpenStreetMap (OSM), the Map Features part of the OSM Wiki serves as the de-facto rulebook or ontology for the annotation of features in OSM. Within Map Features, suggestions and guidance on what combinations of tags to use for certain geographic objects are outlined.

In this paper, we consider these suggestions and recommendations and analyse the OSM database for 40 cities around the world to ascertain if contributors to OSM in these urban areas are using this guidance in their tagging practices. Overall, we find that compliance with the suggestions and guidance in Map Features is generally average or poor. This leads us to conclude that contributors in these areas do not always tag features with the same level of annotation. Our paper also confirms anecdotal evidence that OSM Map Features is less influential in how OSM contributors tag objects. Read More