[Osmf-talk] Elections: Avoid Mandate Creep

Mikel Maron mikel_maron at yahoo.com
Sat Nov 12 18:26:34 UTC 2011

Thank you Kai, well said.

== Mikel Maron ==
+14152835207 @mikel s:mikelmaron

>From: Kai Krueger <kakrueger at gmail.com>
>To: Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org>
>Cc: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
>Sent: Saturday, November 12, 2011 11:28 AM
>Subject: Re: [Osmf-talk] Elections: Avoid Mandate Creep
>On 11/11/2011 11:08 PM, Frederik Ramm wrote:
>> Quote: "There's no shortage of projects that changed the world and then
>> met reality, hard"
>> My interpretation: "No matter how successful OSM is, we'll still find
>> reason to meddle."
>> Of course, once one paints the ghost of decline onto the wall, the rest
>> comes naturally - we have to act!!!!!!
>I think it is more than a ghost. Although the current situation by far
>isn't a decline,  the community size is now nearly moving sideways
>rather than the rapid growth people still claim. This limited growth
>period is now probably nearly 2 1/2 years long since about mid 2009.
>E.g. The number of active mappers per month has only grown by ~20% in
>the last 2 1/2 years (
>http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/File:Osmdbstats4A.png ). The number
>of new mappers per week is at a complete standstill since 2 1/2 years (
>http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/File:Contributor_signup.png ). The
>growth rate of nodes and ways has gone from a exponential growth to a
>linear growth and is starting to show signs of sub-linear growth (
>http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/File:Osmdbstats2.png ), which is
>reflected in an actual decline of the number of nodes and ways added per
>day ( http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/File:Osmdbstats7B.png )
>Those stats imho indicate that there is still a healthy turn around and
>it can attract sufficient newcomers to (more than) compensate natural
>attrition, but only to a limited degree to continue to grow the (active)
>community size.
>Also, in perhaps the second most active community the UK, after 6 1/2
>years road completion is only at about 85%, even to some degree with the
>help of open government data. Most other countries are in a considerably
>worse situation unless they have had imports, and then there is the
>issue of keeping those up-to-date.
>So yes, I think there is a certain justification for "we have to act!"
>to resume a more healthy growth again.
>> Quote: "... insular community, lack of direction, and no innovation.
>> That's what we have to avoid."
>> My interpretation: "We have to provide direction else those
>> simple-minded mapper ants won't know what to do!"
>That is a very negative and imho unwarranted accusation of how the board
>sees the community.
>My interpretation: "These are the issues other projects have faced and
>caused them to fail. The OSMF board has the chance to provide the
>necessary support and resources to help the community to innovate to
>find (multiple) directions and bond mappers into a diverse, but
>cooperative community."
>Without the help of the support of the OSMF it is perhaps more likely
>that the community will hit those limits for the lack of resources and
>the board should work towards avoiding that.
>> Quote: "We are the Board! Shape the project!"
>> My comment: Pure hubris. Our board is not the board of a corporation;
>> our members and those who do most of the work are not our employees to
>> be shaped into whatever we'd like.
>> Quote: "To meet goals, we can take action, we can guide and steer, we
>> can spend money."
>Of cause it is always an important discussion to make sure resources and
>money are spent in the right way and it is rather difficult and
>controversial what the right way is in a diverse community. But in the
>past (without wanting to degrade the great contributions many have made)
>one sometimes had the impression OSMF spent more effort in trying to
>avoid responsibility and to push all duties as far away as possible,
>than to actually support the project, its community and its wishes.
>If I am not mistaken OSMF has a not inconsiderable amount of resources
>by now and that even without attempting (outside of SoTM) to do any form
>of fund raising (since January 2009). Both people and companies are
>willing to donate to OSM(F) if only it would a) accept the donations and
>b) use them.
>So I think it is good that the board is actively seeking opportunities
>of where the available resources are best spent to help support and grow
>the community and the project instead of ignoring them in order to try
>and stay as invisible as possible.
>> My comment: Again, this is a typical management idea - that things go
>> nowhere if they are not driven by clever people at the top. Sure we can
>> have goals but if we don't accomplish them then who cares - maybe they
>> were the wrong goals, or we'll accomplish them next year. It's not as if
>> our bonuses were linked to our percentage of goals reached.
>> It sounds to me as if this whole meeting was based on the misconception
>> that OSMF was somehow something like a startup that has to reach
>> maturity before the venture capitalists lose patience.
>Although there is no risk to loose venture capitalists, there is a risk
>of loosing the community if OSM does not expand to capture their needs
>and wishes.
>OSM is now big enough for (nearly) everyone in the mapping industry to
>acknowledge that crowd sourcing can work and provides a real
>opportunity. However, in most countries OSM is imho not yet well known
>enough to be self sustainable. If a company like e.g. Google or Waze
>comes and creates a closed crowd sourced, but user oriented mapping
>platform, it has imho the opportunity to quite rapidly outgrow OSM and
>take away a lot of the potential mappers from OSM, making it much harder
>for OSM to achieve its goals of a great, up-to-date open dataset.
>So growing quick enough to achieve critical mass is important for a
>project like OSM as well.
>> For example, the first "goal for 2012" mentioned is clearly to beat
>> Google maps although it is vaguely worded as "The world's most used
>> map". I'll dwell on this a bit, although I could use any other goal just
>> as well.
>> Why?
>> Why do we have to be "the world's most used map"? Would the second-most
>> used map not do? And why in 2012? Is it really important if we reach
>> this goal a little slower or a little faster?
>Yes, it is important how quickly one reaches those goals in a rapidly
>changing environment. If by the time OSM has the complete road network
>everyone else has detailed indoor mapping and 3D maps, then OSM becomes
>OSM is in a competitive environment and so the rate of innovation and
>achievement is relevant to become or remain competitive.
>Furthermore, the aim of OSM is to be as up-to-date as possible. If it
>takes 10 - 15 years to do one pass of mapping, it won't achieve this
>goal in most parts of the world. It takes a lot more mappers to keep the
>map up-to-date than it does to get an initial version.
>> I am almost certainly overreacting, and possibly reading things into
>> words that weren't intended to be said (but sometimes words can also
>> accidentally reveal something that was not intended). Still: Setting
>> goals and making decisions while in a state of fear, or believing that
>> one was at a brink and needed brisk decision and steady resolve,
>> deciding things while under real or perceived pressure, is not exactly
>> the mode I was hoping our board to operate in.
>It is to early to say and the blog post is scarce on specifics, but the
>overall idea (of how I interpret the blog post) of trying to use more of
>the available resource to actually do something and support the project
>and help it grow, is imho applaudable. If the board can listen into the
>community, identify the issues it has and then act with its resources as
>well as lead to improve the situation by distilling the views of the
>community into actionable items, then that can be a very productive
>interaction between an efficient organised structure and a diverse
>At least for the board members I know, I have a lot of confidence that
>they will not over reach their powers and do take the community serious
>rather than treat them as "those simple-minded mapper ants that don't
>know what to do".
>So I think showing some good faith towards the new board to try and help
>solve real problems together with the community would be good, rather
>than once again start dismantling any opportunity for the board and OSMF
>to do anything at all. Not all decisions will be good or agreeable in
>such a diverse community as OSM, but sometimes decisions have to be made
>to have progress and as long as on average they are beneficial to the
>majority, mistakes should be acceptable.
>That said, of cause these issues should be discussed both on OSMF-talk
>as well as on the wider communications channels, as with out exchange of
>constructive ideas, even or especially if one doesn't agree with each
>other, such a complex project as OSM can't be managed.
>> Bye
>> Frederik
>osmf-talk mailing list
>osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
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