[Osmf-talk] Conflict of Interest

Richard Fairhurst richard at systemeD.net
Wed Jul 29 16:46:48 UTC 2009

Frederik Ramm wrote:

> These questions, and the answers found, would make a difference to the
> revenue I can generate from offering WMS. My commercial interest would
> of course be for OSMF to not offer such a service, or if offered, only
> offer it to people whom I do not target as customers. Obviously, were I
> a board member, I should refrain from voting on the issue.

What worries me most is not quite that.

Yes, in such circumstances, you should recuse yourself from the  
discussion. That's easy. That can be written down in a conflict of  
interest policy.

But let's say that the man from Mapfabrik has properly hung up his  
Skype handset. That still leaves the man from IPOPlanet and the man  
from CrowdMade in the meeting.

It is in IPOPlanet and CrowdMade's interests that Mapfabrik has to  
stop offering its WMS server, because the WMS is a nice little earner,  
and therefore provides their competitor with the funds to market  
itself and develop its products.

So to properly guard against conflicts of interest, _all_ these guys  
should leave the (chat)room. At this point the meeting is probably no  
longer quorate.

I don't think this is entirely hypothetical. ITO, CM and Geofabrik are  
all, to some degree, positioning themselves as additional portals for  
OSM contributors, through tools like OSM Mapper, routing and OSM  
Inspector respectively. Any and all of these three are services where  
equivalents could, maybe should, be offered on the main site. If such  
a service is provided on osm.org, the company has (perhaps) wasted its  
investment, (perhaps) lost out on traffic to its site, and (perhaps)  
lost out on conversion opportunities.

> 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.



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