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Hi, I want to be able to temporarily rename a group of roads in my city for a research project, but only have those names viewable when a specific tag is toggled on as to not be too intrusive. Is there a way to do this?

asked 18 Jul '17, 22:51

bgdoo's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%


You probably have had a chance to read the answers and comments on your question by now.

Please consider that the respective authors are trying to be nice and polite by using "may", "might" and so on. You should really read this as "only over our dead bodies, and if you want to have a shred of an academic career left, you should very quickly think of a different way of implementing your project"

(19 Jul '17, 11:00) SimonPoole ♦

Can you do this? : yes, there is nothing in the OSM data model which prevents it. Should you do this? : in my view NO.

The main OSM data set is a live database used in various ways by millions of people. Transient modifications may live on on apps and copies of the OSM data far longer than you envisage. Transient modifications may inconvenience people who are used to OSM data in the area being reliable.

Modifying it for 'research' purposes is a dubious practice, which should be avoided. If you are based in a research university it is probably that any such project should be reviewed by an ethics committee. In any case the OSM Data Working Group may not accept that your edits are legitimate contributions to OSM.

As others have said:

  • It is far better to work on a copy of the OSM data.
  • Ensure that you avoid uploading any changes you make to the copy.
  • If you do make changes to OSM restrict them to obvious personal use tags only.
  • Document, in detail, what you plan on the OSM wiki.
  • Discuss any plans for changes to OSM with the community: people local to the area you want to investigate, the country mailing list & forum.
  • Do not proceed unless you have positive buy-in to your plans. An email to a list saying "I'm proceeding in X days unless I hear to the contrary" is rarely acceptable.
  • Consider making a donation to the Foundation as you are using their servers for your research.
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answered 19 Jul '17, 10:35

SK53's gravatar image

SK53 ♦
accept rate: 22%

You don't mention how you'd like to consume the modified data. (What's a "specific tag is toggled"?)

In any case, instead of editing the public map, perhaps you could download the data for your city, modify it as you see fit, and then either distribute it directly to your data consumers, or set up your own server running with that data, etc; the idea being not to clutter a shared resource (the public map and edit history) with private experiments.

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answered 18 Jul '17, 23:04

dsh4's gravatar image

accept rate: 4%

Thanks for your response, dsh4!

I guess what I was trying to say is it possible to have my temporary road names be "hidden" from public view and only viewable when searching a specific tag?

I have already been downloading map data as you suggest and can continue in this fashion. It would just be easier for data sharing if I could make direct edits to the public map that are either temporary or hidden (maybe even only viewable once you export the data from OSM). Not sure if this is an option or you have alternate suggestions?

I am also aware of the proposal process (, which is a way to introduce new tags entirely.

(18 Jul '17, 23:30) bgdoo

From a technical standpoint you can just add whatever tag you want to the streets. You could use something like bgdoo:name which wouldn't get shown by any public styles but could still be visualized using Overpass-Turbo or similar.

From a community standpoint people might not like it (by that I mean they won't like it) if you do that to a huge area of the map, so you'd want to have it all worked out before you started adding such a tag. What it amounts to is that temporary changes and changes that aren't going to be useful to other people are both unpopular.

(19 Jul '17, 01:17) maxerickson

You cannot change the tiles (map) generated for the default OSM style with a toggle. You will have to obtain the tiles with the specific tag from elsewehere, or overlay the tiles from Therefore it is useless to add your specific data to

If setting up your own render server that understands the specific tags is too much work for this project, you might consider using umap where you can overlay OSM maps with your own data.

(19 Jul '17, 05:07) escada

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question asked: 18 Jul '17, 22:51

question was seen: 1,884 times

last updated: 19 Jul '17, 11:00

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum