[Osmf-talk] Elections: Avoid Mandate Creep

Jean-Guilhem Cailton jgc at arkemie.com
Mon Nov 14 11:35:28 UTC 2011

Le 14/11/2011 11:12, Richard Fairhurst a écrit :
> Jean-Guilhem Cailton wrote:
>> The question of the best organisation for the particular commons-based
>> peer production project that is OSM is certainly not easy.
>> In particular, should its governance be mainly a "managerial command
>> system" or "commons-based peer produced"?
>> Indeed, if commons-based peer production was so successful to produce
>> OSM database, could it not also produce OSM governance?
>> And how? Since this mode of production is so recent, there might not be
>> an easy answer, that could be taken off the shelf. But who better than
>> the OSM community could collectively discover or construct it?
>> In this sense, this "Avoid mandate Creep" thread highlights the risk
>> associated with a commonly prejudiced view that a "managerial command
>> system" is the only possible governance organisation in general, and
>> hence for OSM. There is some internal logic that most people who end up
>> on the board would share this view. (Otherwise, why run?)
> Well, I can answer that as one person who has ended up on the board,
> at least. :)
> I certainly don't believe in a managerial command system for OSM. My
> belief with OSMF (just as it is for the department I run in the day
> job) is that it exists to help talented people (the OSM community) do
> amazing things. OSMF is not the engine of the project; the
> contributors are. But if OSMF can help the engine run better, it
> should. Three words I keep coming back to: "support and encourage".
> The caveat is that this does _not_ mean only being reactive. OSMF
> sometimes needs to think beyond what the existing community is asking
> it to do. By definition, existing users are largely happy with OSM; if
> not, they'd have left.
> But in order for OSM to grow its contributor base and hence its
> coverage, there needs to be some effort towards this goal. If the
> community takes it on itself to put the effort in, that's terrific -
> and sometimes we do. Yet open source projects are not always good at
> reaching out to new users (I lose track of the number of programs I've
> installed, thought "what the hell am I meant to do now?", and given up
> on); we are, after all, mostly doing this in our leisure time, and are
> therefore going to focus on what we enjoy. For example, sometimes I'll
> sit down for an afternoon and think "right, I need to grind through
> some usability work on Potlatch today", but actually it's more
> tempting to say "hey! there's a whizzy cool feature I could write!
> I'll do that!".
> If this means that OSM is solely addressing its existing users (and
> FWIW I really don't think that's entirely true, but there's some
> substance to it), then that is where OSMF should come in; putting in
> the grunt work to ensure the project continues to grow. But, where
> possible, this should still be accomplished via the community. To take
> the oft- (over-?) discussed example of the front page, even if OSMF
> directs a little bit of attention to the topic, it'd still be far, far
> better if the new design were to come from the community rather than
> from a bunch of Peruvians on elance.com or whatever. It would be a
> sign of OSMF working well... and you never know, it might happen.
>> Thank you for reading this far.
> I enjoyed it!
> cheers
> Richard

Thank you Richard for your message.

I can say that I was thinking of you (and had read your manifesto again)
when I added the "most" before "people who end up on the board".

I should say though that I had been disappointed to see you claim that
the OSM members' acceptance of the CT amounted to approval. I had even
written a reply to your post on osm-fr, that I finally did not send.
Maybe I should have. (I was suggesting to try to give some democratic
legitimacy to the decision for the final switch by a referendum,
weighting the legal advantage of the change against its cost and the
damage to the data and the community).

Since then, I happened to meet the most important OSM contributor in my
city (at least according to a public statement by Emilie), and can tell
you that if he finally decided to accept the CT, it was only because he
did not want to hurt the project, not because he approved of the process.

I think that there may be a high correlation between objecting to the
licence process and thinking freely by oneself. It's a pity that people
who are excluded by the current process may be the most free thinkers,
and hence deeply motivated contributors.

When the OSM-F excludes the most motivated contributors, and imposes a
licence that only highly qualified lawyers can really understand fully
(I remember that Steve himself was unable to answer a question on a
seemingly reasonable practical use case) and explain (I had to wait to
have the luck to meet one to begin having a feeling of (superficial)
understanding), maybe the declining numbers reported by Kay should come
as no surprise.

I agree (like everybody here I think) that there may be some useful work
to be done by the OSM-F. Like physicians ("primum non nocere"), it
should also be careful of not hurting more than it helps.



gpg 0x5939EAE2

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