[Osmf-talk] Communication style - moderation - CoC [was Re: Board members with similar background (was: 2018 a third episode...)}

nicolas chavent nicolas.chavent at gmail.com
Mon Dec 17 02:08:16 UTC 2018


Apologies for this second post, I realized the links were missing-

I went back online this afternoon after some time off with my family.
Catching up on osmf emails (for some filled with libelous ad-hominem
attacks) has been proving as anyone can easily imagine.

Yet, this set of emails by Mikel, Blake, Dale and Pete have at least
one merit: they tell more about the HOT US Inc specific culture when
it comes to governance, handling of disagreements, attitudes of the
majority vs minorities, information transparency, free speech,
elections discussions style, CoC, control, exclusion (membership
terminations), libels, in one word, internal democracy. And that
culture has to do with violence. Facts are built in 2015, 2017, 2018
communications by HOT US Inc members (specifically email and tweets
authored by Dale Kunce’s as President of this organization) as well as
in the materials collected and documented into 2017 emails by Severin
[1] and myself [2,3,4]. This culture of violence is still at work and
ruling in HOT US Inc without yet of course being endorsed by all its
voting members but without having been internally challenged.

First of, I’ll re-clarify and re-state my position about HOT US Inc at
the OSMF. I have nothing against a balanced presence of this
organization in the foundation. HOT US Inc shall be treated like any
other organizations at the Board, 1 member per organization shall
Tobias manifesto item be endorsed or according to the other regulation
that could be set. HOT US Inc members shall be treated like any other
organization members in the Working Groups where they can contribute
passion and expertise and get acquainted with a different
organizational culture. HOT US Inc has years of operations across many
territories, in various themes of activities of the humanitarian and
development sectors and this knowledge is beneficial for the OSMF
along with the knowledge of other individuals, collectives,
organizations of all natures operating in that field. On a side note
about the election process, I think that Mikel was free to speak in
favor of HOT US Inc candidate with his affiliations and his status of
OSMF board member. I think that OSMF directors during election times
are called to speak freely as individual members even if this breaks
the unity of the Board during this specific time periode. What is
striking here, is that Mikel, Dale, Pete and Blake, yet all “high
figures” of the organizations (Board members and for 3 of them
president), are equaling criticisms agasint a factual unbalanced
presence of their organization at the Board of OSMF with hate. First,
hate against the organization. Second, hate against its voting
members. Third, hate against its community. Fourth and last, hate
against all involved in OSM humanitarian mapping. This rhetorical
figure called an amalgam in literature/critical studies aims at
disqualifying arguments/facts without resorting to critical and
fact-based discussion. Shall HOT US Inc have self-regulated the
presence of its members at the OSMF Board to maximize the presence of
diverse OSM perspectives in this body of the foundation since 2013 and
the election of its first member (Kate Chapman former co-founder,
Board member and first Executive Director), none would have had to
intervene in that aspect of the OSMF governance in the 2015, 2017 an
2018 elections. Eventually, they will see the propositions which came
from this 2018 election discussions in terms of organizational
presence at the OSMF board and the creation of a
Humanitarian/Development working group as opportunities that they will
seize to move on and strengthen the diversity, autonomy and
sustainability of OSMF for the sake of the OSM project.

Reading Mikel, Blake, Dale and Pete emails, mostly Dale’s email in
response to a fact-grounded email [2,3,4] about HOT US Inc culture
it’s striking to note that they enclose little facts and are not
without contradictions.

Things are blurred on CoC. The HOT US Inc CoC which was featured by
Heather Leson in her 2017 manifesto as an important asset and
experience for OSMF. We learn from Dale that “as implemented by HOT
our CoC is a compact between people that civility, honesty, and grace
are the basic principles we believe in.” Apparently, Dale, despite his
position in the organization, seems to have a tendency not to comply
to its own code during OSMF election time (2017,2018). We also learned
two things from Blake. First, HOT US Inc apparently lacks human
resource to follow-up on a CoC complaint initiated in May 2017.
Second, while instructed by the chairman to wait for the next steps
about my complaint from Board/Chairman and not to email the hot
membership mailing list on this topic, I learned on 16-dec 2018, from
Blake, that it should be up to me to follow-u directly on the later
mailing-list. This indicates that this CoC of which some HOT US Inc
high figures seem to be so proud, is simply not that functional. We
learned from Rory’s email, that it lacks dimension (LGBTQ+), which is
ok, nothing is perfect and everything being perfectible. But we did
not learn anything on those 2015 and 2017 CoC complaints [2].
Historically, factually, CoC in HOT US Inc has been used as a
community control tool in the internal aftermath of OSMF 2015
elections and in HOT US Inc 2017 May discussions about the
extraordinary replacement process of a resigning Board member imposed
upon to the members by the Board and not by its election as this was
the case.

Election discussions
We also learn from this series of emails, under different tones, that
there seems to be a difficulty from HOT US Inc “heights” with
elections discussions times when disagreements about the organization
generally arise from some segments of its membership. Criticisms,
fact-based exchanges, dialogue, basic accountability seems to be too
much, leading to “exhaustion”. In the February 2014 election, the
simple name of a manifesto was perceived by the “majority” of the
board members as a willingness of divide; a group of 15 active hotties
had then produced such a collective manifesto. Taking a stance, isn’it
remarkable that, within an “open” organization rooted into OSM (a
project relying so heavily on talk* mailing-lists), some of those who
are active talking during election times about their organization
(activity reports, procedures, modus operandi, strategy/workplan)
sharing at that occasion disagreements with other fellow voting
members are criticized for taking part in election discussions? If the
expression of disagreement can not happen during election times, when
then, and what’s the place for minorities in such an organization?
That’s a clear marker of a culture of control.

Dale communication style
Dale’s communication style, whilst being devastating for its author
and eligible to CoC complaints, is also very telling about the place
for minority people in the culture of his organization. First, CoC act
as an efficient tool to silent or dismiss individuals from minorities.
We learned that OSMF shall be well inspired to adopt one and use it to
get rid of me, Severin and any so vocal anti HOT US Inc, anti OSM
humanitarian mappers, nothing more! Second, the lies, libels instead
of facts-grounded discussions technique is used to destroy the
community and professional legitimacy that minority persons build
through their contributions. Ironically, a careful read between Mikel
[6,7] and Dale’s email [8] shows contradictions and start stressing
lies and half-truths about the quality of my contributions to the HOT
project and then US NGO HOT US Inc (2008-2013). Mikel pre 2013: “I
know you were a big and important part of HOT in the beginning. Then
it didn’t work out. Big time. Everyone feels bad about it. The same
Mikel qualifying my contributions to OSM over the past years outside
of HOT US Inc: “he is otherwise doing good work in West Africa in
particular”.  This contradicts a bit Dale's only focus on “poor job
performance" and "failure”. Without getting into details. Prior HOT US
Inc, I had good work records in the Academic (Institut de Recherche
pour le Développement – IRD in Senegal,Burkin-Faso) and the
Humanitarian (World Food Programme/ UN Joint Logistics Centre). In
2008, with Mikel Maron, I co-ideated the HOT project and co-invented
this name with him. After co-leading the first field work in Haiti
2010 (March, May, July), I co-funded HOT US Inc in Aug 2010. I served
this organization as its Acting Project Manager until the end of 2013
focusing on its Operations in Haiti and Western Africa with good work
records with International Organization for Migration (IOM), World
Bank, USAID-OTI, ECHO, OSMFR/Fondation de France (FDF), Organisation
Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF). The reasons of the end of my
professional experience with HOT US Inc were not professional but
rather “political” and rooted into the growing disagreements with 2013
Board officers over our strategy, operational model and the role of
local communities. I have been since 2013 in good working
relationships with most of all the above-listed institutional actors
and with most of the local OSM community members from Haiti and
Sub-Saharan French-speaking Africa I had the opportunity to meet
around OSM, OpenData, FreeGIS within agile grassroot
capacity-building/empowerment actions.

The above-laid out techniques (attitudes towards minority people,
election discussions styles, CoC, libels) have proven to be efficient
leading to the resignation of several very active voting members or
the ceasing of their volunteering activities within HOT US Inc.
Surprisingly, none of HOT US Inc past directors mention these effects
of their actions. They prefer to re-hash the negative impact minority
people who had been vocal in elections (HOT US Inc 2014, 2015 and OSMF
2015, 2017, 2018) had on its membership. In so doing, they are hiding
the fact that the overall level of activity of HOT US Inc voting
members reached lately a level that triggered internal discussions to
address that dynamics and not rely primarily on paid staff to run the
organization working groups.

The above are a couple of items that read from Mikel, Blake, Dale and
Pete last emails about the specific culture of that organization. HOT
US Inc representatives would be well inspired to stop blindly
misunderstanding a call for balancing the presence of HOT US Inc at
the OSMF Board shared by many OSMF members which they equal to hate
against the organization, its voting members, its community members
and the whole OSM humanitarian mappers. They would be well advised to
invest some thoughts as per why their vision and practices are not so
well perceived by some OSMF and OSM members. Eventually, they will see
the propositions which came from this 2018 election discussions in
terms of organizational presence at the OSMF board and the creation of
a Humanitarian/Development working group as opportunities that they
will seize to move on and strengthen the diversity, autonomy and
sustainability of OSMF for the sake of the OSM project.


[1] – osm diary (entry) not to Severin’s emails:
[2] – CoC as community control tool:
[3] – HOT US Inc "specific" culture - email :
[4] – HOT US Inc “specific” culture – online doc:
[5] – 2014 HOT US Inc Manifesto of a collective of 15 active hotties:

> On Sun, Dec 16, 2018 at 1:52 PM Pete Masters <pedrito1414 at googlemail.com> wrote:
> >
> > I'm sorry, Christoph, I feel I have to respond here. And, I hope I am one of the HOT members that you bestow with an admirable personal attitude, otherwise I guess what I write here will be dismissed without consideration.
> >
> > I just want to say please be careful with your characterisation of HOT... When I read your words, they hurt, to be honest. I personally know many people in HOT (both the NGO, as staff and board members, and the community, as volunteers) who are not as you say and do not have the perspective you have assumed in your message above. Your words, along with those of others in the last few weeks' discussion, are strong, unequivocal and overwhelmingly accusatory. Despite their caveats, they represent a very diverse group of people with as many differences in motivation and perspective as they do in in background, experience and geography as one fairly ugly thing. If I had not known HOT from the inside and had only read the OSMF-talk discussions of the past few weeks, I would want nothing to do with it. It is staggering to me the way HOT is described here in these threads. It is so far from my experience that it is unrecognisable.
> >
> > As a member of the HOT community and board, I'd like to put forward the view that HOT is not perfect and nor can it ever be. We are trying to improve in how we tread the line between being an organisation that can meaningfully contribute in humanitarian crises and with vulnerable communities while at the same time remain a valuable part of a huge, open, non-hierarchical community with no such mandate. This is really hard. In terms of models and culture, these two are poles apart and I think we will fail more times than we will succeed.
> >
> > There is no doubt that HOT's beginnings were, as many NGOs', steeped in the cultures of Europe and north America. I think you'd struggle to find a single one of these NGOs (HOT included) that didn't embody some kind of colonialist attitude, whether acknowledged or not. The important thing for me is  the direction we try to go in; the way we try to do things differently.
> >
> > I am proud that the leadership in HOT becomes more and more diverse. I see, in the board, in local community channels, in the staff, leaders emerging from all around the world (two of whom were candidates for this OSMF election). They are motivated, smart and they bring whole communities of new people and new perspectives with them. What makes me worry is that the more HOT is, in my opinion, unfairly and without nuance characterised as a menace, the less those people are going to want to engage and bring change and leadership to the organisation and the community.
> >
> > Nico, Dale and Mikel all played a huge part in the development of HOT, for better or worse, but none of them represent what HOT is today. No-one does. Just as no-one represents what OSM is. And, I will not take a position on any of their behaviours because I would like us to move past this.
> >
> > There are plenty of arguments about what constitutes toxic behaviour in these communities, as if being non-toxic is our goal. I'd ask that we be a bit more ambitious and aim for aim for a higher standard of conversation and collaboration - maybe 'constructive' or 'mutually supportive'. However, I don't think this can happen whilst we so easily get stuck in the mud with these wars of words.
> >
> > Apologies to all for yet another lengthy wordy email to add to the pile....
> >
> > Pete
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > On Sun, 16 Dec 2018, 11:19 Christoph Hormann <chris_hormann at gmx.de wrote:
> >>
> >>
> >> Thank you for so amply demonstrating why so many in the OSM community do
> >> not want anything from the HOT organizational culture in OSM.  This
> >> self centered view of how awsome and fantastic you and your peers are
> >> combined with the condescending dismissal of any critique or even just
> >> critical reflection of your world view is just remarkable.
> >>
> >> The level of intolerance that shines through in your statements is
> >> impressive as well - the idea for example "to create more local
> >> mappers" is particular revealing for an attitude of cultural
> >> imperialism - you want to create local mappers "in your image" so to
> >> speak, adopting your cultural values - contrasting with the values of
> >> mapper recruitment in OSM otherwise, which encourages people to become
> >> mappers bringing in their own cultural values and priorities and not
> >> giving a damn what people with money on the other side of the world
> >> think they should map or how they should do it.
> >>
> >> When you then say "We just want an OSMF that supports *all mappers *from
> >> whatever community they are from" that is just sickening in its
> >> hollowness because in the same mail you essentially call to ostracize
> >> Nicolas.  This demonstrates the same imperialistic attitude i pointed
> >> out before - you want to welcome everyone but only as long as they
> >> adjust and subordinate themselves to your cultural values.  You
> >> probably don't realize this but for people outside your small HOT
> >> bubble this largely appears extremely arrogant and snotty.
> >>
> >> No one forces you to engage in discussion with Nicolas here.  If you
> >> can't communicate with him on a respectful level just don't do it.
> >>
> >> I for one welcome the input from Nicolas and the valuable perspectives
> >> it brings into the discussion.  It can take a bit of practice to get
> >> used to his style of communication (which is faily common for French
> >> people writing in English) and i don't take everything he writes at
> >> face value because like everyone else he has his own subjective view of
> >> things but he shows a hundred times more restraint, tolerance and self
> >> reflection than you do which makes a world of difference in how i
> >> perceive it.
> >>
> >> Note i do not consider the HOT organizational culture as manifested in
> >> the statements from Dale and to some extent from other people involved
> >> in HOT recently to be something that is internalized by everyone in
> >> HOT.  There are many individual HOT activists and members who have an
> >> admirable personal attitude that is of high value for OSM.  But in
> >> situations like this with representatives of HOT communicating a highly
> >> problematic amount of intolerance and disrespect (and by the way not
> >> only to Nicolas but also more broadly to the OSM community) i often
> >> wish they'd speak up and make clear this is not a culture of
> >> communication and attitude towards OSM they endorse.  And the silence
> >> of other people from HOT on this kind of behaviour in a way is a strong
> >> support for what Nicolas indicates.
> >>
> >> --
> >> Christoph Hormann
> >> http://www.imagico.de/
> >>
> >> _______________________________________________
> >> osmf-talk mailing list
> >> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> >> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > osmf-talk mailing list
> > osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> > https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
> --
> 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 (Haiti): +509 40 19 46 02
> Email: nicolas.chavent at gmail.com
> Email: nicolas.chavent at leslibresgeographes.org
> Skype: c_nicolas
> Twitter: nicolas_chavent

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 (Haiti): +509 40 19 46 02
Email: nicolas.chavent at gmail.com
Email: nicolas.chavent at leslibresgeographes.org
Skype: c_nicolas
Twitter: nicolas_chavent

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