[Osmf-talk] Board decision on recent OSMF membership registrations

Peter Barth osm at won2.de
Sat Nov 24 18:15:25 UTC 2018

Dear all,

On November 19, the Board received an email request to reject a number 
of recent applications for OpenStreetMap Foundation Membership. The 
stated concern was that an atypical pattern of sign ups suggested that 
an outsourcing company had been hired to create fake memberships in 
order to sway the upcoming election.
A circular was created and rapidly voted on, in order for a decision 
to be made within 7 days of the sign up; from the Articles of 
Assocation, "the board may reject an application for membership or 
associate membership within 7 days of receipt of the appropriate fee 
in cleared funds"

The circular read as follows and did not pass:
> Preliminarily reject and individually inspect all membership 
> applications from India from 15.11.2018

> There had been a mass sign-up of 100 new accounts on 15.11.2018 from 
> India, most coming from one single IP address from a company "well 
> known" to OpenStreetMap. There had been a larger amount of complaints 
> regarding edits from that company, who provide "mapping services" 
> to other companies. This circular preliminarily rejects all of those 
> applications and tasks MWG to further investigate them. There's a 
> precedence case for similar action with the Skobbler-case back in 
> 2011 (see https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2011-August/001139.html).

Frederik Ramm, Peter Barth and Paul Norman voted in favor. Mikel Maron, 
Martijn van Exel, Kate Chapman and Heather Leson voted against.


Those in favor argued that given the circumstances under which the 
registrations happened, the memberships should be investigated and 
decided on later. There is no assumption of ill intent.

Those against argued that the original complaint -- the suspicion that 
these newly created accounts were fabricated with ill intent and 
required further investigation-- was not supported, and thus did not 
have a sound legal basis for delaying membership per our current 
membership requirements. 

All Board members are against the creation of artificial OSMF 
membership accounts.  

There is another related outstanding question about membership 
timings. The Articles of Association state a member is eligible to 
vote when they are "a member or associate member (as the case may be) 
throughout the period of 30 days prior to the date on which the 
meeting is held". In years past this has been interpreted as the 
start of the day 30 days prior to the meeting, according to the 
timezone in CiviCRM. This is how OSMF will proceed this year, meaning 
eligible voters need to be signed up prior to November 15. That is 
before the time of creation of accounts in question in the circular. 
This is not the only legal interpretation of the AoA, and something we 
will deliberate further next year. 

OSMF Board of Directors

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