[Osmf-talk] voting fraud

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Fri Feb 1 15:29:33 UTC 2019


On 2/1/19 1:36 PM, Christoph Hormann wrote:
> What i expect from board members on this matter is some appreciation for 
> their own limitations.

If I may take this as a cue to say something a bit more fundamental.

I know that the board sometimes comes across as a little bit too
self-important, even pompous maybe. We are "the board of directors", we
make "resolutions" that people feel must somehow be worded formally, etc.

Myself, I'm pretty clear that the members are the highest authority in
an organisation like ours, and that the board is only asked to run the
thing in between general meetings. I've seen board members that had a
much more elitist attitude, board members who say "I've been made a
leader and now I have to lead and you who made me a leader, you have to
follow". And it is easy to think you're special; being "the board of
directors" and hence perceived as the "leaders of OSM" by everyone who
doesn't know better, the board will be courted by outside parties,
invited to conferences or asked to join some project or whatnot, which
can contribute to a feeling that we're important. Even if you have that
relatively modest attitude towards the job that I have, being part of
the board carries quite a bit of responsibility to do the right thing by
the members. And you don't want board members who do not take that
seriously, who say "who cares", either.

So. That's where we are. The board's relationship with the members. The
members own the place, the board is asked to run it on the members'
behalf. The members are the boss, and while board performs day-to-day
work, members can and should provide some oversight. You are part of
that oversight group, and I can see you're taking your job very
seriously. This is good; you are performing an important role, and
please don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Nothing would be worse than
members who just pay up and shut up and "let the board do their job".


Nobody wants a boss who talks to them like a small child. A good
workplace relationship should mean that the boss is part of the team,
and not the evil person just waiting for some subordinate to commit a
mistake so that an example can be made.

I would love it if the board and the membership (i.e. the board and its
boss) could come to a relationship where the board can say "yeah, sorry,
we fucked that one up, let's see how we can fix it". Where the board, or
even an individual board member, can admit a mistake without having to
fear being publicly tarred and feathered.

The reason you see us dithering, delaying, and choosing words very
carefully is (and this is where I'm coming back to the quote above) that
members in general seem to have difficulties in seeing our limitations.
We're just seven people who have offered to take on the board job, in
addition to, in most cases, our day jobs, our families, our other
hobbies, our work in OSMF working groups and our mapping we do for OSM.
But suddenly we're on the board and people think we're larger than life.
I don't know if anyone has an idea how much time it takes for 7 people
to read and understand a report like that from MWG, digest it to a point
where one doesn't run a risk of saying embarrassing things, and then
find common ground with six other people and discuss what the potential
next steps are. Something like a one-hour phone call with Global Logic
and its preparation with input from seven people and the write-up and
discussion afterwards can easily take up one full week of the total time
committed from all seven board members, if absolutely nothing else
happens in that week.

We are not a professional board, and it is good that we are not. We, as
the board, must learn to freely admit our limitations; we must not take
on tasks that are too big for us, and we must certainly not succumb to
any illusions of grandeur on account of having won an election. And we
must admit mistakes we make. But you, as our boss, must also give us a
safe space in which we can do so. If individual board members fear that
they will be roasted in the court of public opinion if they stumble or
say something wrong, then that doesn't help anyone, and it only leads to
a defensive and secretive attitude on the part of board members.

There are many things about the board that could be improved.
Communication was, again, a problem in the ongoing saga that gave rise
to this thread. Communication is extra difficult if board members have
very different attitudes and long discussions must be had and
compromises must be reached on every little statement we put out on

Perhaps we can at least agree that it would be desirable to have a
climate on this mailing list where the board and individual board
members can work together with the membership (their boss/es), instead
of board carefully trying to manage its image and the membership trying
to pierce that bubble with pointy questions like yours. Can we work on
achieving this, together? Could, perhaps, in the future one of the
questions being asked be: "How can we help?"

And while we're at it: I think you're doing an important job with your
questions but as you can see yourself you're already accused by others
of being a problem. I think that by being a constant champion of those
who want to watch the board closely, you're meanwhile in a position
where many others who think like you won't write anything - they'll just
say "ah, I'll wait until Christoph writes something, he'll find the
better words anyway". (Certainly something that I have heard people
say.) This makes you the lightning rod for everyone who has an issue
with the style of communication - it's all your fault! If you gave other
people who think like you some room to voice critical opinion, by being
a little slower and a little less forthcoming with yours, it would
become clear that you're not just one guy whipping up trouble, but that
others feel the same.


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

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