[Osmf-talk] HOT US Inc use of Code Of Conduct (CoC) for Membership control after 2015 OSMF Board election

nicolas chavent nicolas.chavent at gmail.com
Fri Dec 1 14:24:56 UTC 2017


Dear all,


I expressed a *principled position* about why it's important to balance the
representation of the "Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team US Inc" (aka HOT US
Inc) at the OpenStreetMap Foundation Board (OSMF) Board to favour the
diversity of OpenStreetMap perspectives in this institutional body [1].

Rightly, Code Of Conduct (CoC) has been one topics discussed since the
beginning of the OSMF election [2] .

Interestingly, Heather Leson (who served HOT US Inc as a Board Officer for
4 years through many positions including the presidency), featured in his
manifesto [3] her background of community manager, her work at the HOT US
Inc Governance Working Group to deliver a CoC and how CoC would be
fundamental for OSMF succeeding in achieving its mandate.

The way Heather Leson triggered in HOT US Inc the use of CoC after the 2015
OSMF Board elections show how a CoC can be used for membership control and
constitutes a *specific reason *for balancing the presence of HOT US Inc
reps at the OSMF Board.

In Nov 2015, HOT US Inc was with no official position about the presence of
its members at the OSMF Board: the subject had not been discussed at Board
or membership levels; there is no official position yet. Four HOT US Inc
members ran for the OSMF Board. As both a HOT US inc and an OSMF member, I
spoke on the OSMF mailing list in favour of diversity and balanced
respresentation of HOT US Inc at the Foundation Board [4] and posted 3
emails ([5],[6],[7]). I had not been the only “hottie” (with double
membership) to do so. Some posts (like Roderic Bera for example) were
harsher than mine [8] .

Soon after the discussion around HOT US Inc presence at OSMF began, members
were notified about CoC complaints being issued without further notice

In lieu of an official notification, it’s through a random talk I had with
Severin Menard (at that time Board Officer ) that I knew about it. Severin
having genuinely asked me about how I was feeling about this CoC process ;
even him (in his position) was not aware that the CoC complaint had not
been been communicated to me.

I had to email the Chairman and the Board to figure out that there was a
CoC complaint against me had been decided at the Board without further
notification nor specification of its ground for this. I was left without
any basic element of knowledge to decide about my course of action in that
matter.

Since the basic right of the defense were not in place, Severin Menard,
decided to disclose these facts to me.

On 27-November 2015, Heather Leson triggered a CoC complaint because of my
OSMF emails ([5],[6],[7]) on the below ground:

*In those emails, his words were **unbecoming** of a member representative
of HOT. He questioned the integrity of fellow members and made some claims
about HOT as an organization which do not respect the community and
organization.*

4-Feb In the Board terms, the CoC complaints reads as below:

 *The HOT Board of Directors carefully considered an outstanding Code of
Conduct complaint made against you. By a majority vote, the Board has
upheld these complaints as clear demonstration of behavior injurious to
HOT. *

 *It is resolved that you intentionally defamed fellow members during the
2015 OSMF elections. These actions are a clear violation of the HOT Code of
Conduct, specifically section II - points 2 and 4. Your actions harmed your
fellow members’ reputation in their personal ventures. HOT has a
responsibility to build and promote the next generation of leaders within
the larger OSM community. Your actions also questioned the integrity of
HOT, contributions of members, and disparaged two existing HOT employees. *

 *Therefore, I hereby require you to cease and desist from using language
that is damaging to HOT, or your fellow members, while communicating in any
relation to or mention of the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team while
representing yourself as a member. Continuing this behavior beyond 30 days
may result in the membership needing to consider restricting or even
discontinuing your relationship with HOT as a member.*

 *You are allowed to appeal this instruction by bringing it up at any
annual or special meeting of the Voting Members. The original complaint
documentation will be kept on record and/or the complainant may present to
the membership in any furtherance of this issue.*

Discussions on the internal membership mailing list (on the below items)
had not effect :

- the ground for this CoC complaint:

- Its “targeted’ aspect: why singling out two members only out of the many
involved in discussions.

- the process which was not granting a HOT US Inc member basic defense
right.


Outcomes :

- I got a warning

- Severin Menard disclosing my CoC complaint (author and ground) was used
by the Board to trigger and complete a process to remove him from his Boad
Officer position via an Assembly of the Members.


This whole process, facilitated by the HOT US inc Board and Chairman, is
illustrative of:

- the limits of Check and Balances in place and the role of its Chairman

- the limits of Freedom of Speech tolerated by HOT US Inc for the public
communications of its members (with double affiliation with OSMF) in a
specific forum the OSMF Election.

- Possible future limits about Freedom of Speech on the HOT US Inc
membership list since two topics sparkled during the emails exchanges like
“exploratoring” how to address “heavy” mailing list traffic issues by
considering to restrict the volume of email communications by members by
the Chairman.

The whole story suggests the need to carefully consider and discuss CoC in
OSMF and possible mis-uses prior moving in that direction to avoid
developing membership and community control mechanisms.
It’s also a specific reason to balance HOT US Inc presence at the OSMF
Board.


Best,

Nicolas


[1]: https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Nicolas%20Chavent/diary/42842

[2]:
https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2017-November/thread.html

[3]: http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Heather%20Leson/diary/42706

[4]: https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Nicolas%20Chavent/diary/36750

[5]: https://lists.openstreetmap.pipermail/osmf-talk/2015-
[6]: https://lists.openstreetmap.pipermail/osmf-talk/2015-
[7]: https://lists.openstreetmap.pipermail/osmf-talk/2015-

[8]:
https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2015-November/thread.html




-- 
Nicolas Chavent
Les Libres Géographes
Projet OpenStreetMap (OSM)
Projet Espace OSM Francophone (EOF)
Projet GeOrchestra
Mobile (FR): +33 (0)6 52 40 78 20
Mobile (Bénin): +22962 55 85 91
Email: nicolas.chavent at gmail.com
Skype: c_nicolas
Twitter: nicolas_chavent
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