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I already know the ID of a node can reappear after the node has been deleted. For example, node 1 has travelled across the world, being located at all kinds of locations at various times.

But I couldn't find such an example for ways. Can it occur that the ID of a deleted way is used again for a newly created way? Did this happen in the past and can it happen again in the future?

Or is there any example of a way ID being used at different times at very different locations in the world (with or without a deletion in between)?

asked 28 May '21, 14:41

flogoe's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

edited 28 May '21, 14:44

I've seen POI nodes relocated when, for instance, a restaurant moves -- sometimes a mapper will simply drag the node from the old location to the new location, keeping all the same tags (other than address, hopefully, if the original node had address tags.) And one could imagine a deletion in between, ie, one mapper notices a restaurant is closd and deletes its node, and another mapper reverts the deletion then moves the node to the new location.

This same process could happen to a restaurant mapped as way -- as a building, for instance. It could be deleted, the deletion could be reverted, and the way could be moved to another location. Sometimes buildings do move (generally not all the way across the globe of course) and if so this might actually be the preferred way to map that. A mapper might also choose to do this so that the link to the previous location would still work for the new location.

I don't know of any examples.

But in short: Yes, any deleted way can be reused by reverting the deletion, and might also change location. This probably won't happen, though, unless a mapper is doing it intentionally. It won't happen "naturally" when a new way is created.

[Edit - it's important to remember that ways don't actually have a location, only nodes do. Ways simply have an ordered list of nodes. So if nodes can move across the globe, you should assume that ways can too.]

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answered 28 May '21, 22:12

jmapb's gravatar image

accept rate: 22%

edited 28 May '21, 23:24

Technically, there's no reason why it couldn't happen with ways (or relations) too, but I don't know of any examples.

Nodes get "reused" for one of two reasons - deliberately (in the case of node 1 and some other low-numbered nodes) and by accident. "By accident" typically happens when someone messes up object IDs in JOSM when doing an import, and it can cause features to "be resurrected" or to "jump across the world". Sometimes people update multiple OSM servers (the "real" one and dev server used for test edits at , for example) and if edits supposed to go to one go to the other by mistake then objects can "move" by mstake.

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answered 28 May '21, 14:52

SomeoneElse's gravatar image

SomeoneElse ♦
accept rate: 16%


To clarify this a bit:

  • the API does not reuse ids of its own accord, including those of deleted or redacted objects,
  • a user/editing app can however reuse an id that it knows of, creating a new version that has no direct relationship with the previous one (regardless of the current state of the element).

The later can happen due to issues with the app, issues with the data (uploading objects with conflicting ids), and naturally by the user forcing it (for fun or maliciously).

(29 May '21, 08:46) SimonPoole ♦

I eventually found an example of a way that has moved significantly (from Romania to Germany):

Adding it here in case it proves useful to someone. Thanks for the other answers!

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answered 31 May '21, 10:29

flogoe's gravatar image

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question asked: 28 May '21, 14:41

question was seen: 1,591 times

last updated: 31 May '21, 10:29

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