[Osmf-talk] Elections: Avoid Mandate Creep

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Wed Aug 31 12:32:55 UTC 2011


On 08/31/11 10:10, Eugene Usvitsky wrote:
> But this overall question is deeper. Currently OSMF already IS shaping
> OSM life. It was responsible for license change (the problem 99%
> project members didn't really care before),

This is true.

> it is responsible for
> project conference (for calling for and choosing sponsors and
> presenters),

This is something that I would like to see abolished. What we are seeing 
with the conference currently is the typical self-perpetuating problem, 
you started something and now you must continue at all cost. There was a 
great momentum behind the first SOTM(s) - there were people who were 
eager to put on a conference, and that was great. It wasn't Steve Coast 
saying "hey, we really should have a conference, would someone please 
organise one" - it was a bottom-up thing, for which sponsors were sought 
after the plans were made.

Nowadays, we have a more or less standing SotM working group whose task 
it is to find a new location and a new local team each year. This is not 
enthusiasts saying "hey, cool, let's have a conference" - the conference 
has mutated from a fun thing that the community wanted to do, to a 
liability ("we need someone to step forward to do this year's SOTM 
please"). - If things work well such a conference can bring a five-digit 
surplus but if things go awry it could also eat up money. So it is 
important, eats a lot of time, and soon someone will come around and say 
"we should use a professional congress organiser for this".

In short, SotM becomes a fully commercial operation that has nothing to 
do with the community any more. I'm not interested in that.

This doesn't mean I am against SotM, or OSM conferences at all; this 
year, we had a fabulous SotM-EU conference in Vienna, organised without 
OSMF help or funds, without binding precious OSMF board member time, 
without putting any financial burden on OSMF - and it was a great 
conference to go to. This proves that it is possible for the community 
to have conferences without OSMF playing a part; and so, at least for 
me, the conference thing is clearly something that OSMF should not 
meddle in. (If this leads to a conference only happening every other 
year, or the occasional year with several conferences - who cares?)

> it is responsible for what and how is shown on the
> project main page,

Responsible in the legal sense - yes. But that's about all. The content 
should neither be driven nor selected by OSMF except when there is a 
potential liability problem.

> to name a few things. License and CT change made
> this ties even stronger and we can't avoid this. But should we?

The *only* thing that actually stands, of all you have listed, is the 
license/CT issue. It's ok for OSMF to have a vision on the license, but 
that's it.

> We all understand OSM as one project. But in reality it is a
> combination of local communities working each for their own map (and
> these communities are not just country-level, they can be regional or
> even less). These communities almost don't interfere, the only thing
> they have in common is osm.org (though some have their own renders),
> software editors and tags (though they often understand tags
> differently). That's it!

That's the source of it all. That's where our energy and our 
contributors come from.

> So if someone decides that this situation is normal and it should be
> left as is, it's OK. But I personally don't think so. I want to see
> OSM as a project. And this means collaboration between communities and
> what is more important, clear understanding of what we should reach.

Collaboration is ok - basically, just enabling people to talk to each 
other if they so desire. But some might not even be interested, and 
that's ok; a mapper in Uzbekistan cannot be forced to concern himself 
with the situation in California.

The assumption that they should all work towards a common goal is a 
common fallacy. OSM has reached a lot of what it is through people 
working towards their OWN goals, communicating and working together with 
others where they deemed it to be useful.

I can see where you are going: We must all democratically elect leaders, 
these leaders must then decide where the project should be going, and 
then we all must follow because, after all, they were democratically 
elected, no?

Two problems with that: Firstly, it will lead to leaders meddling with 
stuff they know nothing about. It's just the same as voting for tags - 
it actually leads to *less* freedom and flexibility in the project and 
that hurts. Secondly, only one in 1000 mappers is a member of OSMF, so 
OSMF has no democratic legitimation to define "a clear understanding of 
what we should reach".

> We all know that OSM is not a democracy and never pretended to be. I
> work with the project for almost 4 years. I've seen a lot of members -
> novices and experts. Everyone wants the same - clear directions of
> what and how to do.

Then turn to your local community and ask them what to do and how. No 
central leadership is required for that, and there is absolutely no 
reason why someone on Tokyo should follow the same directions as someone 
in rural Ecuador. (For example, typical instructions given to a newbie 
mapper in France are quite different from those given to a mapper in 
Germany even though we're neighbours!)

> And
> that means that if I put a name of some street as "Main St" and
> someone changed it to "Main Street" we both are right.

No, there is a well-documented consensus that we use full names.

> There are
> thousand of some micro-disagreements.

Every such disagreement that is settled through an iterative, 
evolutionary approach among mappers is 100 times better (and more 
sustainable) than something decreed from some central authority.

Are you arguing for a future where we all have to start tagging things 
differently because suddenly one faction has won a majority on OSMF 
board elections?

Please don't mix OSMF and OSM. OSMF has no authority on 99% of what a 
mapper does. It is ok for OSMF to step in and help where the community 
calls for it (for example, through a mediation or firefighting working 
group), but that's it.


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