[Osmf-talk] Fwd: Candidacy: OSMF Board

Andrew Johnson andrew at gaiagps.com
Thu Nov 23 19:41:40 UTC 2017

1) I'm also not a HOT member, and I think the tone of this email is harmful
to OSM, and will push people away from the community. Even when someone is
running for office, we shouldn't reduce ourselves to ad hominem attacks,
name-calling, and unsupported, subjective hearsay passed off as evidence. I
don't think this is civil discourse (in any language), and it's not
persuasive either.

2) The two actual arguments this screed makes are that the candidate
doesn't edit enough, and didn't perform well in HOT or in organizing OSM
mapathons. I don't think the former is disqualifying, since there is more
to OSM than editing, and I don't think the latter is proven at all by this
email's supposed evidence. It just makes it seems like the attacker has an
axe to grind. From my perch, I see a lot of great service done by Heather,
for the community, with well-deserved marks on her CV.

My notes on the content below. I think a lot of people will now vote for
Heather, ironically, because of this attack. It's notable that even the
supporters of this letter mostly support the right to say anything, in
whatever tone, and not the actual content of the argument (as far as there
is any).

On Wed, Nov 22, 2017 at 3:07 PM, Severin Menard <severin.menard at gmail.com>

> Heather,
> As of today, since you created your OSM account in July 11th, 2011, you
> have been active as a mapper over 11 days, adding a total of 1 new highway,
> 2 names, and 302 buildings[1]. No activity at all during two years during
> which you were a HOT US Inc board director then its President. With 331
> changesets, I guess you are one of the very rarest mappers to have produced
> more changesets than buildings, actually because you have the totally
> newbie habit

This amounts to name calling.

> to upload every single building you trace with your very favourite editor
> iD[2],

This is irrelevant.

> some of them being not even squared[3]... Seeking to join the board of the
> OSM Foundation with such a high OSM profile is really shameless.

Name calling, and unsupported.

A lot of us don't think there is any particular number of quality of edits
to run for the board, and there's no shame in putting your hat in the ring.

> Of course you do not emphasize this and you prefer argue in the Election
> wiki talk page that you have been an intense promoter of OSM and “hosted
> mapathons”.

This sounds like a highly leveraged activity. She's probably done much more
for OSM than many more prolific editors.

> But actually no, you have not. In any event you are part of, you manage to
> have someone else having the required skills to run the mapathon or deliver
> the .

Deliver the what? For all the talk of "let's not apply US/British
politeness standards" - we can at least expect someone to carefully compose
such a character attack, not just fling the bucket of bile out on the
internet. There are multiple errors in this email, which goes to show the
subjectivity and emotion involved.

> It was myself in 2013 International Conference of Crisis Mappers in
> Nairobi, Pierre Béland and Samuel Paul Alcé in 2014 IEEE Canada
> International Humanitarian Technology Conference in Toronto and apparently
> on November 15th it was this lady[4]

Why can't these people speak for themselves? Why is it appropriate for
Severin to say they did all the work, and Heather did nothing?

Also, why are Pierre and Samuel named, and "this lady" is not, and why the
word "lady" instead of "woman?" I see subtle problems with how this is
phrased that speak to the attitude of the author, and of course blatant
problems too.

> during the 35 people mapathon you mention in the Election wiki talk page.

I don't believe that she had nothing to do with these many mapathons she
helped organize.

> The goals you present in your Manifesto about community building and
> governance mix platitudes (thank you for teaching the OSM community that
> « Community-building is an essential ingredient in building good governance
> and expanding support »,

Mix platitudes with what? Again here, for such a severe attack on someone,
I'd expect the author to carefully compose a statement.

I am sure that it had never come in mind to any member of this list before)
> and issues that have been discussing for years like diversity,

The sarcasm here isn't something I see in professional communications

If someone wants to pick apart her manifesto, do so thoroughly. Don't
cherry pick some statement, and then demean the author.

> though it is strange that you did not figure out so far that the OSM
> ecosystem, including the one involved in the Foundation, is not reduced
> only to “editing and building technology” people but has a large diversity
> of skills. The diversity issue is much more related to gender, language and
> economical context balances.
> Anyway, you might compensate by a huge involvement in board related
> activities. But not even this. For HOT US Inc, then totally unknown both
> from OSM and the humanitarian field, you managed to directly join the board
> in 2013, especially to make the NGO benefit of your high capacity in
> fund-raising. For years, you did not disclose anything about it, pretending
> confidentiality, but emphasized this supposed activity for being
> re-elected, even if you did not collect a dime during this period. I was
> also member of the HOT US Inc board when the NGO faced financial issues mid
> 2015 due to jeopardized management and, having to make the fund-raising
> becomes a reality, we discovered that you had not even produced a basic
> strategic document so far, and other board members had to do it. And during
> these hard weeks, you even complained once that you had to dedicate 5 hours
> a week to HOT US Inc. I do not know if you realize how many hours many here
> dedicate to OSM every week.

If this letter hoped to convince me that Heather shirked her duties on the
HOT board, it has failed. I read this as a person who has an axe to grind,
who had disagreements with an organization and collaborators. I don't think
I get a complete picture of what was going on, on the board, from this

And this was confirmed when I looked at Severin's wiki page: "I quited HOT
US inc in May 2016 due to a total disagreement with both the ethics,
governance and strategy adopted by the majority of the board of the
organization over the past three years." http://wiki.openstreet

> So, why are you willing so much to join the board of a community of doers
> without being a doer yourself within this community?

Apparently many folks think Heather is a doer, based on reading this
thread. This allegation remains unsupported by actual evidence.

> Just to pin the OSMF board in your collection of voluntary based and open
> projects you “led” the same way, and therefore continue to boost your CV:
> according to your HOT US Inc profile[5], OSMF would at least join the
> Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, Crisis Mappers Network, Open Knowledge
> Foundation, Ushahidi, Random Hacks of Kindness, Mozilla.

This is ad hominem.

Her motivations for joining aren't what we should discuss, partially
because it's unknowable, but mostly because it's irrelevant. What she can
or will do if elected is important.

> But if ever someone in this list thinks it might somehow be interesting to
> have among the OSMF board members a totally inactive contributor

I agree with the sentiment expressed by many that there's more to OSM than

> with a very limited knowledge about what OSM is, but with links with other
> open source based communities, please keep in mind that Heather is not an
> inoffensive collector of open source projects board medals.

More ad hominem, name-calling, irrelevant attacks.

> Electing Heather at the OSMF Board membership would reconstitute the
> former trio who in the past turned the originally open, horizontal, and
> community rooted project into the very classic NGO HOT US Inc become,
> highly tight with many organizations from the USA soft power (American Red
> Cross, USAID, Peace Corps, US State Department...[6]), with quite an opaque
> governance even for its voting members and internal repressive mechanisms
> for any member defending other vision and practices for the NGO or
> complaining about what is going on.

Grinding that axe quite vigorously here, in a one-sided, subjective way,
and passing off a partnerships link as some sort of evidence of malfeasance.

> I am not surprised at all to learn that Heather is currently focus on
> reviewing the HOT US Inc Code of Conduct (for everyone to understand: this
> means turning it more severe for members).

I can see why some people feel the need for stronger protections.


> I really encourage the OSMF voting members not to make this happen.

My guess is the opposite will now occur, helped along by this thread.

> Sincerely,
> Severin (sev_osm)
> [1] http://hdyc.neis-one.org/?Heather%20Leson
> [2] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Heather%20Leson/history#m
> ap=15/18.9953/-72.4767
> [3] https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/53780169
> [4] https://twitter.com/HeatherLeson/status/930800399451410433
> [5] https://www.hotosm.org/eusers/heather
> <https://www.hotosm.org/users/heather>
> [6] https://www.hotosm.org/partnerships
> 2017-11-13 20:02 GMT+01:00 Heather Leson <heatherleson at gmail.com>:
>> Dear colleagues,
>> I seek your support for the position of OSMF Board Member. Over the
>> years, I have been so happy to meet and connect with OSMers. Please find my
>> candidate statement:
>> http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/Heather%20Leson/diary/42706
>> Thanks in advance for your consideration.  Looking forward to our
>> conversations.
>> Heather
>> Heather Leson
>> heatherleson at gmail.com
>> Twitter/skype: HeatherLeson
>> Blog: textontechs.com
>> _______________________________________________
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>> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
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