[Osmf-talk] [OSM-talk] Esri donation to OpenStreetMap Foundation

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Wed Mar 21 00:17:28 UTC 2012


On Tue, 20 Mar 2012 14:17:52 +0100
Guttorm Flatabø <post at guttormflatabo.com> wrote:
> one reason is that it is a "secret" and secrets are mostly
> undesirable in open, inclusive, democratic, non-profit organizations.

Yes. Secrets also lead to more secrets. If you get a secret amount of
money and then buy a new server for it, you cannot say how expensive
the server was. Which means that nobody can check if you maybe bought
overprived hardware from a shop run by a board member's uncle and got a
nice kickback for yourself, etc.

I don't intend to spoil the fun, and I'm sure the operations team is
going to be happy if they can spend more on servers (it might help to
tell them how much though!); with all the media coverage we had
recently, we may need that sooner than later.

But even so, I would like to point out the fact that keeping the details
about such a donation secret will cause problems - even more so if this
should become a standard mode of how we deal with money. It may sound
like a no-brainer at first ("hey, ESRI is offering us this wad of cash
on the condition that we don't say how much it was, anyone against?")
but if you think about the implications then this quickly becomes a
slippery slope that we don't want to be on. 

I would like to ask our board to explain to ESRI that it is important
for our community to be truthfully informed about important
developments in OSMF, and that if a donation is big enough to warrant
its own article on the OSMF blog then the community should be allowed
to know how big it was exactly. 

In the long run, it might be prudent to think about conditions under
which we can accept donations. I think such conditions already exist in
all our minds; if someone offered to give us money under the condition
that we make sure that their headquarters is made unmodifiable on the
map or that they always get priority access to our API then we would
all say "hoo, wait a minute, we're sorry but we can't do that". I
would suggest that a rule like "any donation in excess of (something
like) US$1000 will be individually accounted for" should be added.

As I said, it's great of ESRI to support us and eventually we will hear
whether this was to the tune of $5,000, $50,000, or $500,000 but
really, we shouldn't have such secrets.


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