The current controversy is the Ukraine/Russia border esp. over . The "on the ground de factor control" rule means it should be marked as part of Russia.

Some don't like that, and I really wish they'd suggest better rules instead of just complaining. I like the 'on the ground' rule. What other rule should OSM use for country borders? We need an clear rule that is objective that we can all agree on. So what should that be?

@rory internationally agreed upon borders? But then that becomes politically messy with a number of countries too.

@carbontwelve But what does "Internationally agreed" mean? What are the borders of Isreal by this criteria? Should we include Northern Cyprus by this criteria?

"The International Community" usually means "US+allies" which is little biased.

@rory I only suggested it as an example, and a obviously messy one at that.

I'd argue that country borders is a problematic subject; they change on a generational timescale and more often than not even if a particular border isn't controversial presently, it has been in the past and still has the potential to be so in the future (e.g Crimea annexation, formation of Israel, Northern Ireland, formation of Pakistan, etc.)

Therefore while problematic the current #OSM policy of "de facto control" is probably the best given that "de facto" describes the borders as "existing in reality, even if *not* legally recognised."

It could be argued that this rule shows evidence of a slow Russian invasion of the Ukraine as "de facto control" begins eroding away the border?

@carbontwelve yep. "International recognition" might sound simple, but it then opens up so many more questions and ambiguities as to be not very helpful.

@rory The only thing I could think of is some kind of internationalisation layer for boundaries analogous to changing the language of labels / place names.

So you could opt for the Russian view of Crimea, the Chinese view of Tibet, the UK view of Gibraltar and the Indian view of Kashmir.

But I can't see it being practical to maintain.

@priryo I am actually working on exactly that! ( ) There's another idea here ( ). Let's hope it'll come to fruition.

You're right it'd be tricky to maintain, but in , we're used to having a big database!

@rory Amazing! Good luck with it. I love the move away from the idea people have of borders as being some kind of objective thing like mountains or rivers, but must be a tricky thing for people to get their heads around.

@rory @priryo Interesting proposal! the first promising attempts at solving this issue that I've seen :>
I'll try to word my (mostly philosophical) thoughts on this topic

@rory @priryo
Maps are always just models of the world, and can never represent the true state of it. OSM has solved the resulting issue of "truth" nicely with the "what you see on the ground" policy.
But by that rule, no nation states should be mapped at all (except for actuall walls/fences).

This model however would not fit most users needs. But when we're considering the users needs first, we should include /all/ users needs; so mapping multiple representations of borders would be necessary.

@rory @priryo Hmm, now I want to do a study on "what goals does a user of a PoI/street map follow when looking at nation borders?" 🤔

@norwin @priryo "Who has the power to arrest you?" is a good rule to use to determine what country you're in.

@rory @priryo I think this could be quite nice for people teaching history if you could do it by decade (or some time scale) on a slider and show the borders as they change over time.

@carbontwelve @priryo Have you heard of ? (cf. ) It's not very well developed though.

They aim to be the most out of date map on the internet!


The current ruling is definitely the best possible. Regardless of whether you agree that Crimea is part of Russia, if you're on the penninsula, you are subject to Russian law, and that's really the only reason you should be worrying about national borders.

@rory Borders are political. It was inevitable recording change would become controversial if people really (and very understandably) didn't like that change.

Some people don't like that?

All they have to do is go out there and reconquer the peninsula.

There is solving your problems and there is moaning to people about your problems. How anyone can mix up those two things is beyond me.

I do admire your patience.

Incidentally, I say this having a number of Ukrainian and Russian friends and colleagues myself (neither of whom give much of a toss either way, as long as nobody is getting killed).

That said, in practical terms all the moaners have to do is grab their own copy of planet.osm and modify the borders, etc. to their own liking in their own copy. That's the beauty of open data.

@rory I guess we need to accept, that there is no truth for that kind of interpreted geometries as borders. Maybe an approach like wikidata would be fine ('source A: RU accepts border here source B: UK accepts border there, ...')

Sign in to participate in the conversation
En OSM Town | Mapstodon for OpenStreetMap

A Mapstodon instance for the OpenStreetMap Community (English language)! This site is under construction, and may change. Our francophone friends have a Mastodon instance: