[Osmf-talk] Membership applications from Skobbler employees

Tom Chance tom at acrewoods.net
Thu Aug 25 11:41:21 UTC 2011

On 25 August 2011 08:52, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Call me a cynic, but from my (limited) experience with other
> not-for-profits and I tend to thinkg that the amount of fear, hate,
> mistrust, and general bad karma is proportional to the size and budget of
> the organisation.
> If we manage to keep OSMF small and relatively unimportant, then we'll
> avoid problems like those. If we aim at 10k members, a yearly budget in the
> six figures, and full-time staff, then we *will* have these problems too.

OK, you're a cynic :-)

>From my involvement in non-profits of varying sizes (from tiny to
transnational multi-million turnover), I think this is unnecessarily
downbeat. The important thing is to take governance and management very

Usually problems arise in non-profits because people are too focussed on the
things they really care about - the data, the maps, their personal
investment in the project - and fail to act professionally, as they might in
a normal boring job. People can feel free to be rude and bullying, to let
their personal investment in the project lead their emotional response, and
to make unreasonable demands on people, especially when there is a feeling
that the project is threatened or desperately needs this or that action to
be taken.

These can arise in very small organisations as well, as some recent debates
in OSMF have shown :-) None of us are angels!

The important thing is to ingrain a culture of good governance, good
behaviour, and good management. That can be done by the processes you adopt,
such as requiring statements and discussion of these matters in OSMF board
elections, and adopting clear "ground rules" for communication on mailing
lists and for meetings.

The second important thing is to be absolutely clear how decisions are made,
such that most members feel they are transparent and fair even where they

As for Wikimedia, my very unscientific anecdotal experience is that
organisations set-up by geeks can often (but not always) have a culture that
is anti-governance and anti-structure, falsely extrapolating from the
success of "anarchic" technology to assume that we can dispense with
thousands of years of accumulated wisdom around governance and structure
without any of the intense attention traditional anarchist groups then pay
to building group spirit, consensus, etc. to
replace hierarchy. Hierarchies are often hastily assembled without getting
widespread buy-in, and are often resented and so doomed to fail. As such, I
think they can give a rather bad impression of organisation!

Best wishes,

http://tom.acrewoods.net   http://twitter.com/tom_chance
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