[Osmf-talk] Elections: Avoid Mandate Creep

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Tue Aug 30 12:17:57 UTC 2011

Dear all,

    I've been reading the manifestos linked from


and I'm happy to see so many people stepping up for election.

I must make one comment though.

Ever since OSMF was founded, it was clear to us, and repeated again and 
again, that OSMF wasn't there to control the project. OSM and OSMF are 
different things. The role of OSMF was to support OSM where such support 
was needed, and to provide a legal framework and a bank account where 
these were needed.

This mandate has not changed; we the members have not been called upon 
to decide that from now on OSMF would be doing something different (even 
though the license change put OSMF closer to the limelight than a of 
quiet "supporting" role would warrant).

Let us all keep this in mind, and I am looking at our candidates especially!

Some of the manifestos contain pledges to do stuff for which OSMF never 
had a mandate. Serge, for example, seems to envisage "major changes" to 
the technical infrastructure, and it is his right to have ideas just 
like everyone else, but the board doesn't make decisions about the 
technical infrastructure - Serge's thoughts about this would certainly 
be as welcome as they are now, but they would not carry more weight just 
because he's on the OSMF board.

Eugene wants to develop a "long term strategy" and distil "vision, 
mission and values" into words to "compare most activities against a 
long-term strategy", whereas currently "most activities are more related 
to fun like mapping ... than the success of the project itself". It is 
not for OSMF to tell people what they should be doing, and I sure hope 
our mappers will continue having fun because otherwise the coveted 
"success" might be in jeopardy. Let me repeat: OSMF is there to provide 
support to the project where such is needed; if the project members have 
fun without a long-term strategy then maybe OSMF should just stand back 
and not meddle?

Mikel talks about making sure that "osm.org reflects [the] so many ways 
in which people can contribute to and use OSM", which certainly is a 
noble goal but again, OSMF is not in charge of OSM public relations - it 
may play a *supporting* role behind the scenes, but it doesn't belong in 
the limelight.

I'm not singling out these three - I'm sure I could find similar points 
of criticism in every other manifesto (and if I can't then probably only 
because they are short). It is also not necessarily the candidates' 
fault; after all, even the existing board has occasionally gone far 
beyond what I think their mandate is, and given the impression that OSM 
was a headless blob which needed direction and a five-year-plan from 
above to flourish.

Let us try to remain true to the basics - let OSMF do what is required, 
and keep OSMF out of everything else.

Any kind of "mandate creep" will inevitably lead to more work, more 
working groups, more committees, the need for more funds, the call for 
full-time staff, overboarding bueraucracy and mappers alienated even 
more from OSMF than they are now.

Being on the OSMF board is a lot of work, a lot of it tedious, and all 
candidates are to be commended for being willing to shoulder their share 
of that. Nonetheless I'm slightly surprised that none of the candidates 
has come up with a manifesto in line with the old OSM motto: "Let OSMF 
be the simplest thing that could possibly work."

They would certainly have my vote.


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