[Osmf-talk] Community, criticism and diversity

Randy Meech randy.meech at gmail.com
Mon Nov 3 00:11:36 UTC 2014

On Sun, Nov 2, 2014 at 5:23 AM, Simon Poole <simon at poole.ch> wrote:

> 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
> Randy
> 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.

A -> B: The tweet, like the email, shows exasperation with what's happening
here, and shows better examples in local communities. Agreed that local
communities will be more welcoming to local users, but my point is the
foundation suffers from being so exasperating.

> 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-.

I'm not sure how you got from A to B there, but your response isn't
relevant to what I think or what I wrote. Maybe a misunderstanding, maybe
uncharitable assumptions about me as an American?

> 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.

Agreed -- and Frederick had a great email about this -- but we'll have to
see what's driving the increased sign-ups. I'm sure there are many reasons
related to the last few weeks and that the effect will be positive.

>                                                     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.

I think you can be professionally involved and care deeply about community
control of the project (I would actually argue that it's good for
business). My main point is that with the OSMF so small and adversarial,
it's not true community control, either across the foundation or on the
board that reflects it.

To me, an ideal board would be a good mix of backgrounds, but it should be
up to a very large community to decide. This is what scares me about a full
board reboot: it would be trivial for a single entity to control the board
with the voter numbers from last year.


PS: I ran the NYC marathon today. Fortunately there's no marathon-running
equivalent to "osmfight" or else I would be quite embarrassed :)
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