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What does the name flag "preferred" mean?  XML
Forum Index -> FAQ - frequently asked questions
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Joined: 26/09/2015 03:24:44
Messages: 2

The manual says: "the flag 'isPreferred' helps distinguish between several alternate names in the same language. It marks the most commonly used name."

Imagine the following scenario. In a given language, I want to specify 4 names:
  • Name A, historic
  • Name B, historic, preferred over A
  • Name C, current
  • Name D, current, preferred over C

    Currently, I can't set flag "preferred" on both B and D. Error message is displayed: "please enter only one preferred name per language"

    I think this constraint should be relaxed. You should allow the flag preferred as long as it does not create 2 names with the same set of flags and both preferred.

    Preferred should be used to distinguish the preferred name among a given set of flags (short, historic and/or colloquial), as a last criteria to choose a name, not as the first overall criteria.

    Take the following real example for country Democratic Republic of the Congo:

    It has 4 German names:
    1. Belgisch Congo flag:h.
    2. Belgisch Kongo flag:h.
    3. Demokratische Republik Kongo (highlighted in green)
    4. Zaire flag:p. flag:h. (highlighted in red)

    Do you consider this bad data?

    Names 1, 2 and 4 are historic names pre-1997. 3 is the only current name, that one would display in a country list for example.

    I consider that the flag p. on 4 is meant to say it's the preferred name among the 3 historic names, not that it's the preferred name overall. Do you agree, or the flag "preferred" is incorrectly set here?

    If a user of GeoNames writes code that only looks at isPreferred flag, it would pick name "Zaire" here, which is not correct. "Demokratische Republik Kongo" is the best name to display in German, even though it has no flag "isPreferred".

    In any case, whether or not you consider my suggestion above to relax when flag preferred can be set, you should improve the documentation so that GeoNames users correctly set and use the flag preferred, to avoid problems such as the Congo vs Zaire example here.
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