Nick Black nick at blacksworld.net
Thu Jul 30 13:39:05 UTC 2009

Didn't mean to send that mail the first time round :-)

Reading through all of these posts, I think there are two issues.  The  
first is how to make sure the board represents the wishes of the OSM  
community and the second come down to personal trust.

For the first point, representing the wishes of the community, I  
favour an approach that strengthens the Foundation by expanding its  
user base. By the end of 2010 we should be counting foundation members  
in the 10,000s.  These members spread all around the world, some  
affiliated to OSM-F Local Chapters will provide a strong base to elect  
the OSM-F board.  At this point, it would be extremely difficult for  
all but the largest organizations to force something on the OSM-F by  
hijacking the voting process.

I see growing the membership of the OSM-F as the only viable way to  
ensure that the goals of the OpenStreetMap project and its members are  
achieved.  The counter measures proposed here - limiting the number of  
representatives from one company on the Board and other similar  
measures - just wouldn't work.  At best they would be another hoop for  
an organisation intent on hijacking OSM to jump through.  At best they  
would hinder the OSM Foundation by restricting the ability of OSMers  
to freely choose their own representatives.

I do agree with the gist of Frederik's points around moral standing  
though.  Its great to hear from Michel and other that they are  
completely confident that the current Board members have been able to  
do a great service for OSM whilst also having commercial interests.   
By electing someone to the OSM-F Board, you are trusting that they  
will represent you and your project.  You have to have quite a lot of  
trust in a person with those kinds of responsibilities.  In short you  
need to trust that the person you elect to the Board will make the  
right choice - regardless of any commercial or other interests they  
might have.

That's exactly how I approach each Board decision.  Sure, I have  
commercial interests in CloudMade and I have various opinions on  
things from data licensing to what the front page of OSM should look  
like.  But in each decision I make as an OSM-F Board member, I'm  
representing the interests of the OSM community.  I can quite honestly  
stand by every decision I've made whilst an OSM-F Board member and say  
it was in the best interest of the OSM Foundation and the OSM  
community.  I can vouch for the other members of the Board that they  
do the same.

Before you vote for a Board member - try and meet them in person or  
talk to them on the phone and figure out if you trust them.  Talk to  
them about their other interests (everyone has other interests) and  
find out how they would put their interests aside and make decisions  
that represent you and your OSM community.


On 30 Jul 2009, at 11:22, James Livingston wrote:

> On 30/07/2009, at 12:46 AM, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> I'd rather view this as a moral thing than a legal issue.
> I agree with this. Provided people standing for election disclose any
> relevant affiliations, which includes things other than their
> employer, such as that they are a member of some geographic society or
> what have you, I don't see a problem with simply letting the
> membership vote.
> What specifically would we be trying to achieve by limiting the board
> members? If it's to stop a company turning evil and stealing all our
> data, we need to require that re-licensing of the data needs a vote of
> the membership (and obviously the same to change that rule).
> If the board turns evil (one company or otherwise), the membership
> should be able to do something about it. I don't know how it works in
> the UK, but in Australia if you can get the requisite fraction of the
> membership to agree, you can force an Extraordinary General Meeting
> where the members can overrule the board decisions and remove them
> from office. If you can't get the requisite fraction of the membership
> to do that, then either the board isn't being evil, or they have
> stacked the membership - at which point, you have bigger problems.
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Nick Black
nick at blacksworld.net

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