[Osmf-talk] Community, criticism and diversity

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Sun Nov 2 10:23:08 UTC 2014

Am 01.11.2014 17:40, schrieb Randy Meech:
> This is a great point and the goal should be to pull the functional
> aspects of these communities up into the OSMF for the benefit of
> everyone. Although we know the OSMF "supports but does not control" the
> project, it is still a crucial organization and it's a real problem that
> local communities are more welcoming and functional than the foundation.
> I see this in the US and am glad you see it elsewhere.
> This tweet from the US illustrates what you're
> saying: https://twitter.com/vtcraghead/status/526167297468399616


I'm not quite sure how you got from A to B there. It would be very
surprising if a local OSM organisation would not be more "welcoming" to
its primary audience than the foundation, that is one of the reasons for
having local groups in the first place. The short circuit is assuming
that because US based community members like OSM-US (as said not a
surprise) it should be the role model for the OSMF.

The OSM communities are really very diverse, their degree of
organisation and their expectations towards any central organisation
varies greatly over the globe, they are not simply US clones that don't
use English as their first language. And I can assure you there are
certain things in the way OSM-US operates that would drive away members
from other communities in droves if the OSMF copied them. But more power
to OSM-US if it works for them -locally-.

It is really not a simple issue to solve and I wouldn't claim to have
the ultimate solution to it.

> As I've said elsewhere, the fact that the voting membership for the OSMF
> is so tiny -- which is the case because the problems we see here driving
> others away, presents a real danger for the project. 

I'm fairly sure you will find that OSMF membership has actually
increased over the last weeks. We have large communities that find the
current discourse and upset refreshing and that some of the historic
dirty linen being dragged out and disposed of at last as positive, and
wanting to become involved because of that.

I would fully agree that more members are important, not just for
stability reasons, but to increase the legitimation to speak for the
whole community. As Frederik pointed out, the current board was the
first to actually do something about it.

>                                                     It's good to focus
> on your healthy local organization, but don't forget that the OSMF owns
> the servers, is responsible for the license (and its changes &
> clarifications), and runs the main State of the Map (which *should be*
> the biggest and best-organized conference we have).

Very true, and as I pointed out earlier one of the things fuelling the
current conflict is that OSM as a whole and with it the OSMF has become
substantially more relevant, not just commercially but that
particularly. Parts of the current conflict are proxy wars between
larger players in OSMspace, some are just unabashed attempts to control
the keys.

As I pointed out in a different context, historically we have had very
little representation and control by normal, non-professionally involved
community members. This was likely OK in the past because most board
members and similar had evolved from OSM being just a hobby to their job
and in the end there just wasn't very much money in it.

Increasing the membership makes it more difficult to grab power, but
IMHO we will need to put more measures in place to guarantee community
control of the project.


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