[Osmf-talk] Conflict of Interest

Gervase Markham gerv at gerv.net
Wed Jul 29 15:43:08 UTC 2009

On 29/07/09 16:32, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> I wish to stress this again: A conflict of interest is not a weakness of
> character or something that only evil people suffer from. A conflict of
> interest is a dilemma situation that causes stress for the individual
> and the organisation involved; and whereever such a conflict can be
> avoided. that is a good thing to do.

But the logical conclusion of your position is that the more deeply 
involved in OSM someone becomes, the less likely they are to be suitable 
for a place on the board. At least in the Mozilla world, people who work 
hard on the project tend to get hired - either by us or by another 
company - because they are smart and competent and love what they do. 
This is a sign of a healthy community, not a disfunctional one. It would 
be a very odd thing if getting hired meant you had to *step down* from 
being a module owner or another position of authority inside the Mozilla 
project. And the same is true of OSM.

Conflicts of interest of the form you explain don't just arise because 
of money. Say I'm the keeper of the OSM default stylesheet for one of 
the renderings on the website, and the fact that most people use it 
gives me power over how people view OSM, and I like that. A discussion 
comes up about whether we should allow regional communities to define 
the stylesheet for their areas rather than have one centralized one. I 
have a conflict of interest regarding my ego.

I want to see a healthy commercial ecosystem around OSM, where companies 
compete on a level playing field. People should be elected to the board 
independent of their company affiliation, and asked to wear two hats. 
This works OK in Mozilla. If it turns out that we vote such that the 
entire board is made up of CloudMade employees, then let's watch and see 
if they take decisions which favour the commercial interests of 
CloudMade to the detriment of the project. if the membership agrees that 
they do, they will elect other people next time.


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