[Osmf-talk] "a viper pit of racism and misogyny"

Steve Friedl steve at unixwiz.net
Tue Dec 19 14:10:57 UTC 2017

The code of conduct I have adopted (and hope to live by) is: "don't be a dick"

But the *last* person I want involved in the development or enforcement of a code of conduct is the viper pit guy.


Steve - wishing everybody a safe and peaceful holiday

-----Original Message-----
From: Frederik Ramm [mailto:frederik at remote.org] 
Sent: Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:31 AM
To: osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
Subject: Re: [Osmf-talk] "a viper pit of racism and misogyny"


(subject changed, which I forogt to do the first time round - naming names in subject has been considered impolite since before codes of conduct were even invented.)

On 19.12.2017 12:16, Ben Abelshausen wrote:
> 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 is hard to take it seriously when someone claims "RACISM" with regard to this here list. I'm open to learning and discourse; perhaps that person already finds it "racist" when I say "I think that North American cultural values are too easily accepted as the yardstick in OSM"?
Certainly I don't feel racist in saying that but if that's already something that carries the being-called-a-racist-on-twitter penalty then I would perhaps reconsider my words.

Also "MISOGYNY" - I'm at a loss where that has occurred, and especially in a quantity and strength to warrant "viper pit". I can only guess that it is alluded that when a female candidate for the OSMF board is questioned and unfairly criticised for things that she allegedly did or failed to do in the past, that is misogyny but (a) that's not my definition of the word and (b) the fact that I even have to guess what the accuser could be talking about already means we're wasting time.

> Perhaps if we had some way of addressing these issues *inside* the 

My problem is that I'm totally willing to fight against what I define as harassment. I've been personally threatened with violence against me and my family (and my car), I've been sued and slandered for things I said and did in my work for OSM, and a blog has gone up in which hypothetical sexual acts between myself and another community member were described in graphic detail. I may be another white privileged college-educated male but I think I know what harassment is. Someone telling me, on a public mailing list, "Frederik I think you're not suitable for this job because you did this and that in your past", is certainly annoying but it's not something that I perceive as harassment. Someone who writes "you're a liar, yesterday you said X and now you said Y" may have a temper, but he's not harassing anyone. Let's not devalue the word "harassment".

I'm totally in favour of an anti harassment policy: No violence. No threats of violence. No offensive comments related to gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, mental illness, neuro(a)typicality, physical appearance, body size, race, or religion.
No unwelcome comments regarding a person’s lifestyle choices and practices. No stalking, following, deliberate intimidation. That's all fine.

But for some people harassment starts already when I attack them because they've just made their fifth shitty import, or they consistently ignore what people tell them about their quality of mapping. Or when I tell them than in my opinion, their vision for OSM is going to ruin everything we stand for. For some people it is already harassment when I write "Are you serious?" or "This is the silliest idea I have heard in a long time." - But while saying such things certainly don't satisfy general standards of politeness, they are not what should be called harassment, and they are not what should prompt people to blog about how OSM lists are an "unsafe place" or a "venom pit", and they should certainly not give anyone reason to try and apply force to get someone to retract their statement or get someone thrown out of the project.

I think that these two things are too tangled up and we need to un-tangle them. We aren't a top-down leadership project and I hope we will never be. That means we will have discussions, we will have heated discussions, and we will have dopamine-kick-"I cannot come to dinner because someone is wrong on the Internet!!!" kinds of discussions. This is a natural consequence of people being in this project with their hearts and souls and not just with a yearly membership payment. This is an important part of our collective direction-finding and decision-making, and there will always be rough edges. We should not attempt to sanitize them away to a point where we're friendlier than the average Disney movie.

I'm all for taking *serious* things seriously. And one *serious* thing is people bad-mouthing us on Twitter claiming that we're a venom pit, and this then being repeated over and over until you hear it from 500 re-tweeters who're all more than happy to report rumours about the dark underbelly of this OpenStreetMap that they heard so much about.


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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