[Osmf-talk] Personal thought regarding the current board situation and AGM/election

Michael Kugelmann MichaelK_OSM at gmx.de
Thu Nov 6 03:55:09 UTC 2014


follwing are my very personal thoughts on the current board situation 
and behavor of current and former members.

Some statements below might read very direct or even harsh. To make it 
clear: I don't want to offend somebody. Maybe I chose "unlucky wording" 
as a non native speaker. And I don't want to start a crusade against 
some persons.
As a long term active OSM community member I was aware of some slight 
disharmony (or maybe differnt interests) within the board. But I was 
shocked about some issues showing up within the last few weeks making my 
bood boil. I took some days to cool down before writung this email, but 
I am still very upset!

Some of the points mentioned below are old: I wanted to allert some 
things before the 2013 Birmingham SOTM/AGM. I didn't manage to write it 
down due to lack of time. After the AGM I hoped not being forced to 
write it. But things have gone even worser so I will also point on some 
old things...

(Missing) Openness and Trustfulness on the board

Current board cooperation [all]
One thing which being far the worst is the complete missing openness and 
trustfulness between some board members. Full member lists are not easy 
available, finances are not open, planning of the SOTM is not 
transparent to some board members (including the budget), ...
Come on, are we an open/FLOSS project or not? So the maximum permissible 
openness should be naturally for all board members! If you say there are 
problems e.g. with protection of privacy: there are always ways to deal 
with. Just an example from business: if you sign a contract of 
employment or a contract with another company you work with there is 
most frequently a NDA clause in the contract. If necessary we could 
invent something for board members regarding these informations.
Did anybody think about somebody could be killed by an accident or so? 
Having a single point of information causes a problem, just avoid it by 
spreading the information.
To say it clear: there is no sneaking suspicion at all that somebody 
misused it's position. But the example Frederik pointed out about a 
German Verein where the treasurer misusing his position should sound as 
a note of warning. And there are sufficient other examples if you look 
around in business worldwide. So why not easily prevent it by openness?
For me it sounds like some board members not trusting some others at the 
lowest level. That's simply unacceptable and needs to be fixed quick 
with highest priority!

Information on activities of board members [Oliver + ????]
About two years ago (or so) there was a meeting of two board members 
(Oliver, but I don't remember the second one) with German auto makers at 
Ingolstadt. The meeting was revealed coincidentally (or as it showed up 
in the financial report? Don't remember exactly).
Requests from the community to inform about the content of the 
discussion was refused due the NDA for this meeting - unfortunately but 
understandable. But even the other board members were - for my 
understanding - not told what was discussed: this is in unacceptable in 
my point of view.
Why? Having board members involved in such actions who operate a company 
in the same/close by industry will always leave an aftertaste of 
potential conflicting interests. To make it very clear again: there is 
no sneaking suspicion at all that somebody misused it's position. But 
the mentioned behaviour is IMHO no ideal, having the other board members 
as "auditors" will prevent any "bad thinking".
So I was very happy to hear about Simon announcing e.g. all his talks to 
the board, that's best practice! Other board members should earn a 
lesson from that.

Face2Face meetings
Although the expenses are high I feel that the board should meet at 
least once (or twice) a year. My suggestion is to have this meeting 
latest one month after the election to the board was performed. And it 
should last around two full working days.
BTW: the OSMF should take the costs for that (on a "reasonable luxury 
level": not a first class flight, not a 5 star hotel). If someone wants 
to pay it from own expense he could do this by declaring the costs as a 
donation to the OSMF.
If you fear big disharmony there a profession/neutral moderator could 
help to take out toxic actions.
Motivation: my experience shows that working together was always better 
after a first personal meeting. If there are new board members they 
should have to chance to know the others personally. This will get even 
more important if we would get more diversity (country/region) on the board.

OSM activities aside of OSMF by (former) board members

OSM Plus [Steve (driving force), Henk, ?Oliver?]
I remember well the requests from some community members (including 
myself) to have an advertisement for the first SOTM-EU (Vienna) on the 
OSM wiki start page (or web page). This was refused with the argument 
that the SOTM-EU might be a competitor to the SOTM later that year and 
take visitors away. It was argued that the SOTM is an important income 
for the OSMF and needs to be a (financial) success.
Later Steve showed up with a "private conference" (OSM Plus) which is in 
competition to the business day present at that earlier time on SOTMs 
(Friday). And also rivalling for sponsors...
Henk and Oliver have been very prominent on the web page giving the 
impression that this would be an "official OSM conference"...   :-(
I don't know whether the conferences did any profit or loss, at least I 
don't interest to me any more.
Somehow I understand that Steve wants to attract companies to OSM. But 
why not join forces with the OSMF but work on one's own account? If it 
would have been some (!) community members to organize a conference => 
fine. But a single (prominent) OSM member organizing a conference? 
Somebody not close enough or new might have wrong impressions.
Hence for me the OSM Plus was (and still is) acting against the 
interests of the OSMF and misuse of names / (former) roles. Someone 
could think on such a behaviour is close for being a reason to force an 
elimination from OSMF...

MapClub [Steve]
Domain is for sale and for my impression from outside the whole thing 
was a huge success anyhow...   ;-]
=> issue closed.

Organisation of the SOTM (and local conferences)
I will put this into a separate email as this one is already too long...

Important goals for OSM/OSMF?

Importance of addresses? [Steve and others]
Some persons rank the comprehensive presence of address data very high. 
I accept this being  important data if you want to have routing (and 
geocoding). But if you want to do turn by turn guidance you also need 
have turn restrictions! And lane guidance is a feature provided by the 
big commercial companies nowadays. If you look at OSM we are not good 
with addresses. But we are even more worse with turn restrictions as 
they are not easy to add with current tools. And information for lane 
guidance is even far more missing according to my impressions (I don't 
have any evidence but there are even no big discussions on compared to 
some discussions and tools on turn restrictions).
Don't you think there will be huge customer complaints "but the SatNav 
told me I should turn left her", maybe especially difficult in the US 
with the product liability regulations in place (BTW: I as an European 
rate some of US regulations as crazy/braindamaged/...).
Sometimes I fear that some persons requesting addresses as a personal 
business interest rating their own (or employer) ?commercial? interests 
higher than other things. Just look e.g. at HOT activities: we have 
sufficient areas where no map is present at all. Having at least a rough 
map is much more valuable for the persons trying to survive there than 
some inconvenience with routing in the "first world".

Budget and hiring staff?
Some persons see the Holy Grail in getting "lots of money" and hiring 
I don't have a general problem with paid staff at the OSMF - even not 
with paid mapping if it is disclosed, fair and in cooperation with the 
community. But the true value of OSM has always been the active 
community, we should keep this as the highest goal! It can be 
well-founded to hire persons for some workings or projects, one good 
example was to finish the licence change bot. And as OSM/OSMF grows it 
might be necessary to go more in that way. But currently I don't see the 
big need to have a huge ramp up.
Sometimes Wikipedia/Wikimedia is used as example. But if you look a 
little closer they have a lot of (!) problems: contributors decreasing, 
separation between board and community/acivists, ... (there are numerous 
articles / blog posts / ... in the web. And this is even them having 
"plenty of money" (at least compared to OSM).

Diversity et all  (gender, alcohol, ...)
Just allow me to comment on one last topic in an uncouth way: we are not 
the paradise!
The OSM community is a reflection of the real world which is far, far 
away from being perfect. We really should try not to be at the worst end 
but to act "as good as possible". But at least at the moment there are 
IMHO much much more severe issues to deal with...   :-(
BTW: this is not only a gender issue, there are also huge (!) cultural 
differences between countries which can offend persons within 
discussions. I experienced some quite big differences e.g. between the 
US, Japan and Germany (I have been working multiple years with 
colleagues from these countries) for business reasons.

Just my 2 cents,

PS: I excuse for this long text...

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