"path is only needed when footway, cycleway or bridleway are misleading"
"There's no clear default for path, footway or every cycleway about surface. The obvious answer is that surface tags should be used."
"without any further access tags, path is neutral and open to all unmotorized means of transport (unlike footway, cycleway etc.)"
"highway=footway is meant to be the same as highway=path and foot=designated"
"But =footway and =path mean different things in different regions"
"Something that could represent a mountain path, a mountain track, a gravel bridleway, a concrete cycleway, and a asphalt walkway through a park is a useless garbage tag."
"highway=path was meant as equivalent to footway, cycleway etc and is most often used that way. It's wording is unfortunate as the association with path for many people is an unmade way."
"A path is a natural thing from people walking the same path over and over. Footway is a constructed path that is not signed as a foot-/cycleway"
"As I think, in most cases they acts like classification for pedestrian routes. highway=pedestrian is on top of that hierarchy. highway=footway right in the middle. highway=path is the lowest level of that hierarchy."
"a lot of the footway/path angst would go away if path stopped looking like a higher class of road."
"footway as paved and path as unpaved by default"
"path is rural and a result of natural wear and also cover historic trails, whereas footway is urban and has gravel/paving"
"The default for path (typically encountered [rural]) is basically unpaved and the default for footway (typically encountered in urban areas) is basically paved."
"it's fairly common that the paths worn by usage - rather than defined by statute - are indeed tagged as highway=path"
"highway=footway is undoubtly mainly a single-use way for pedestrians, whereas highway=path is a universal key for multi-use or non specific use ways, from rural, wilderness and mountain trails to all kinds of transport infrastrucure in the so called developing countries and may be used by all kinds of non 4-wheel traffic, including stock, mule, yaks and - yes - in some countries even by motorcycles/mopeds etc. "
"You can't trust the OSM wiki on this. It's been edited by people with a personal point of view about "what the difference between a footway and a path is", and in a number of cases the current state of it only reflects the POV of the last editor, not the (lack of) concensus."
"As has been said many times already, there are so many different interpretations of the difference between footway and path that none of them are useful."
"What we have is a mess."