[Osmf-talk] Standing for board election

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Sat Nov 25 15:46:59 UTC 2017

Am 25.11.2017 um 12:42 schrieb john whelan:
> This is boring and sensible and not what we have come to expect from
> candidates this time.
> There is so much money riding on OSM these days that I wonder if we
> should have some sort of remuneration for board members or at least
> some paid staff.  It might attract a wider variety and make us a
> little more independent of commercial interests but this would be a
> very big change for the board and membership to consider.  It would
> also need to be thought about.  I understand in the US nonprofits may
> not pay their directors but certainly in Canada Cooperatives at least
> can and do.

There are (at least) a couple of aspects to this:

- what role does the board actually have: is it more strategic, or is it
essentially a working executive board (and other variants). Historically
it seems to have wobbled back and forth but in general, been "weder
Fisch noch Vogel" (German expression: "neither fish nor bird"). If we
moved to a paid board, we would likely still want to have a separate
non-paid oversight board of some form.

- staff in any form would currently increase the dependency on a)
commercial entities, and b)  on US interests (since essentially all such
entities with enough funds for larger donations are US based)

On the later point: OSM has as far as I know never received any larger
contribution to operating costs from your typical sources of idealistic
donations, again lots of these are US based and only support US
organisations, or are very project orientated which IMHO doesn't really
work for core OSMF. It is quite possible to obtain funds for specific
software projects, but then there is no real need to go through the OSM,
which is OK, except that the side benefits tend to not benefit the OSMF
either (classical example Mapbox, both Tilemill and iD were originally
financed by the Knight Foundation that besides funding the actual
projects kickstarted the whole company).


PS: there is the other problem that why on earth would you want to pay
the board first? Surely you would want to pay the people on the OWG, DWG
and LWG before the directors, given they are actually core to operations
not the board, unluckily that would probably amount to a couple of
million just for starters.

> Cheerio John
> On 25 November 2017 at 00:37, Paul Norman <penorman at mac.com
> <mailto:penorman at mac.com>> wrote:
>     I've announced my standing for board previously, after feedback
>     from a few people. I've now posted my manifesto, at
>     http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/pnorman/diary/42816
>     <http://www.openstreetmap.org/user/pnorman/diary/42816>.
>     I'm Paul Norman, OSM user pnorman. I've been mapping since 2010,
>     and involved in other facets of OpenStreetMap since 2011. For the
>     last three years, I’ve been on the OSMF board, and am running for
>     re-election. During my time I’ve seen the board grow in
>     productivity, the finances become more stable, and us make good
>     strides in transparency.
>     Outside the board, I’m also involved with the OSMF on the Data
>     Working Group, License Working Group, and Membership Working
>     Group. As a software developer, I’m a maintainer of OpenStreetMap
>     Carto and osm2pgsql, as well as being involved in many parts of
>     rendering toolchain.
>     In my work life I’m an independent software developer, working on
>     map rendering, cartography, and PostGIS for clients. My main
>     contract right now is with Wikimedia Foundation, as the developer
>     on their maps team. In the past I’ve worked for CartoDB, Mapquest,
>     and other companies.
>     Looking back at what I put in my 2014 manifesto, I’m moderately
>     pleased with the progress we’ve made in both transparency and
>     productive board meetings. Neither are perfect, but they’re a vast
>     improvement over three years. Overall, I’m satisfied with my time
>     on the board. I accomplished some of what I wanted to, and think
>     my manifesto desires were realistic.
>     My concerns are now
>     *Conflicts of interest*
>     6/7 board members work with OSM somehow in their jobs. This
>     includes four with employers who sell services based on OSM data
>     and can easily run into conflicts of interest. We are not managing
>     this, which might have worked in the past, but is not a good
>     practice. There’s stuff we need to set up like having an email
>     discussion out of sight of the people with conflicts. Right now
>     it’s considered acceptable for a board member to take part in
>     discussions where they have a conflict of interest. Clear rules
>     would also protect board members from pressure from their employer.
>     On a working group whenever there’s occasionally been an
>     intersection between my work and the WG. In these cases I’ve
>     removed myself from the discussion. This is what we should all be
>     doing on the board.
>     Unfortunately, as someone who is paid to work with OSM data, I run
>     into conflicts of interest myself, but in practice, I have less
>     than most with the nature of who I work for.
>     *Support, but not control*
>     The job of the OSMF board is to support the mappers building the
>     map, but not control them. I worry we are losing sight of that,
>     and people increasingly want to exert control and consider the
>     mappers secondary. We need to protect the ability for people to
>     independently do activities, even if it’s not something the board
>     agrees with.
>     *Volunteer capacity*
>     A lack of volunteers was an issue when I ran three years ago. It’s
>     a bit better, but still one of the biggest issues facing the OSMF.
>     Working groups need more people. A growing number of members have
>     been attending board meetings, but I’d like to see multiple ones
>     at every meeting. We need good people on the board, but we also
>     need an active membership who are interested in what we do, watch
>     us, what we do, track that we deliver, and offer appreciation in
>     return.
>     Paul Norman
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