[OSM-dev] disputed areas

Jochen Topf jochen at remote.org
Mon Feb 11 07:20:59 GMT 2008

On Sun, Feb 10, 2008 at 11:38:21PM +0100, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> > > Can't we just let one of them get bored?
> > 
> > Only if we don't actually care about our map being accurate to the rules 
> > we decide.
> There are many other places where our map is not accurate to te rules
> we decide, and where we can actually do something about it ;-)
> I think we should keep the issue in mind during further API design
> work, and try to build mechanisms that help us cope with situations
> like these, but I don't see the urgency either.
> I still like my idea of not showing Cyprus at all, but if that's not
> feasible then let us just ignore the issue for the time being. 
> Any mechanism that forces us, as a community, to take sides (i.e.
> decide what the "correct" tagging should be) would set a dangerous
> precedent and require a well-crafted decision-making process in the
> community. (For example: do I, never having set foot on Cyprus, have a
> say in the issue?) I don't think we are up to that, yet, and we should
> certainly not rush out some rules that haunt us later.
> If the people of Cyprus haven't managed to produce good mapping
> because of unsetteled political issues, then that's the reality and
> why should that reality not be visible in our maps...? We're not above
> politics (sadly).

I don't think ignoring the issue is a good idea. For one, this will be
used by OpenStreetMap-detractors as an example why OSM is immature, not
to be trusted etc. Also there might be one or two people in Cyprus who
are silly or worse, but I suspect most of the mappers in in Cyprus are
actually doing good work and we want to actually help them and not
alienate them by declaring it a lost cause.

I see this case as a sort of learning opportunity for the OSM community.
The community should use this case as an example of the problems to come
and discuss remedies and create the community structure and the software
to help solve the problem. Once we get into far bigger problems like the
China/Taiwan issue we'll be glad that we had the chance to try out the
problem solving capability on a smaller case.

I think this discussion in itself is very valuable for the project.
Many technical solutions (well, less solutions than hot-fixes) have been
proposed and frankly I think, sooner or later we'll need to implement
and use all of them. Some cases might be solved be one, others need a
different one. Having several tools in your toolbox helps.

But more important than the technical stuff is the community aspect. No
community can exist withouth some kind of conflict resolution. Wikipedia
has its mechanisms, nation states have theirs. OSM has to finds its own
way. Ignoring the problem makes it worse, because it damages the community.
>From what I see on the Wiki ("WikiProject Cyprus" and "Disputes") we
seem to be on the way to create the community structure to help with
disputes. Mikel Maron and Blackadder, both respected members of the
community, have agreed to work as mediators. I don't know the details of
the case but from what I see on the Wiki, some sensible looking agreements
have been found and further steps are needed to actually implement those
agreements. I suspect Mikel knows more about the problem than we do and
when he thinks that more needs to be done we should probably support
him. Mikel: Can you elaborate on the issue? Who are the parties
involved? Who agreed an what solution? Who is not keeping to the

But I agree that we shouldn't blow this problem out of proportion. Most
of the people on this planet are nice to each other and most people in
the OSM community play well together.

Jochen Topf  jochen at remote.org  http://www.remote.org/jochen/  +49-721-388298

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