[Osmf-talk] Dale Kunce (OSM, OSMF and HOT US Inc president) on [OSMF] mailing list: "a viper pit of racism and misogyny"; a statement which minimally calls for answers and facts

Ben Abelshausen ben.abelshausen at gmail.com
Tue Dec 19 11:16:52 UTC 2017

Hi all,

It hurts when people tweet this kind of stuff, I follow Frederik's
sentiment. I have responded on twitter a couple of times when this happens.
But how we respond to this has to be different from what we've done up
until now:

"It's not true, there isn't a problem, and let's do nothing!"

This reaction is normal, a lot of us don't see a problem so there's nothing
to fix right? But on the other hand who are we to say individuals didn't
experience these things? It's arrogant to say to people part of our
community this isn't a problem and then do nothing, while at the same time
they clearly do see a problem.

This criticism keeps popping up, and we better listen. There are multiple
people with different backgrounds that are saying this kind of stuff (no
this is not a US vs the rest issue, or HOT vs the rest, before the
conspiracy theories start again). Some of them wouldn't dare posting
something here in a discussion like this (!). Instead of having a
discussion about what someone did on a platform we have no control over why
don't we look at what *we* as a community are doing wrong.

Why people experience this list and other parts of the OSMF as unwelcome
(and I've said it before, I also think it is hard to be on this list) is a
legitimate question and we ignore it over and over again. This has never
been taken seriously. It's frustrating and annoying, seeing this dismissed
as 'not a problem' every time. I guess now won't be any different.

Perhaps if we had some way of addressing these issues *inside* the OSMF
people wouldn't have to vent their frustrations on twitter anymore. It's
bad to have this on Twitter, let's try and stop this in a way that will
actually work instead of shaming people in an email.


On Tue, Dec 19, 2017 at 7:36 AM, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:

> Hi,
> On 18.12.2017 23:18, nicolas chavent wrote:
> > I randomly ran into this tweet of Dale Kunce [1],
> > /> "Community. The absolute best and worst things of OSM. Current
> > mailing list is a viper pit of racism and misogyny. I don’t know it if
> > will ever be a safe place. Even I’m thinking of unsubscribing."/
> Sadly, ranting on twitter (or your personal blog, or even a talk at a
> SotM conference) about how these mailing lists are the worst of the
> worst, has a long tradition even among people who have been with OSM for
> a very long time.
> I am always very sad to read this, because I feel that the vast majority
> of people on this list, or on any OSM list, are intelligent, friendly,
> and respectful human beings, and being collectively kicked in the groin
> like that - and not even to your face, but by someone talking to a
> different audience - hurts. A lot. (To be fair, in this case the
> accusation is unspecific enough; I don't even know if he's talking about
> any list that I am on or maybe some other list that I don't even read,
> and if he's talking about a list that I'm on it is unclear if I am part
> of the accused. Bit like if I was to say "the USA is a viper pit of
> racism and misogyny", only that this is *so* generalising that it would
> be easy to quote examples.)
> People talk about a lack of diversity on the mailing lists; tweets like
> that are a sure-fire way to keep people from joining and judging things
> for themselves. Like you, Nicolas, I haven't seen racism or misogyny
> expressed here on osmf-talk in the recent weeks, in fact not for years;
> and such extraordinary claims should certainly be backed up by solid
> facts, and certainly not directed against the mailing list community as
> a whole but just against those people who are seen to post such content.
> We should have a zero-tolerance policy against racism and misogyny, but
> we should also have zero tolerance against false accusations of such,
> because such accusations can create lasting damage.
> I have recently looked through old mailing list entries on osm-talk from
> before 2010, and the climate has certainly improved since then; but once
> established, a mantra of "OSM mailing lists are a viper pit" is very
> hard to eradicate. It will be repeated un-questioned by people who don't
> bother to check for themselves ("it is a well-known fact that OSM
> mailing lists are the worst, everyone says it...").
> One vile tweet like that can ruin hundreds of hours of work that have
> gone into writing thoughtful, respectful, and friendly messages on the
> mailing list. All for nothing - I could just as well start every one of
> my messages with "Bullshit!".
> Someone who writes tweets like that does *more* for the lack of women
> and people of colour than any mailing list contributor could with an
> unsensitive post. But, as I said, Dale is only the latest person to do
> so in a long list.
> Bye
> Frederik
> --
> Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"
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