[Osmf-talk] Board response: Disputed Area Policy (Crimea request)

Heather Leson heather at osmfoundation.org
Thu Feb 7 08:46:09 UTC 2019

Dear OSMF members, DWG members, other interested parties:

After receiving the November 17, 2018 complaint, a sub-group of the OSMF
board, consisting of those board members who were not also members of the
Data Working Group, ruled to grant an appeal against DWG's decision to end
an exception from the "on-the-ground rule" regarding the mapping of the
boundaries of Ukraine.

Russia currently exercises control over Crimea, the "on-the-ground rule"
require that Ukraine's boundary does not contain Crimea. However, this
is a conflict situation and there were a large number of complaints from
active members of our community in Ukraine. The previous situation with the
exception in place was obviously much more acceptable to the OSM community
as a whole, and our group decided to uphold the exception instead of ending

We have been asked if this means a general change to the existing rules,
and the answer is no.

We recognize that a lot of work has gone into the current Disputed Area
Policy, and both DWG and LWG have assured us that the "on the ground
rule" generally works well to avoid and settle conflicts. We, therefore, do
not want to weaken that policy.

At the same time, we have seen that that in the concrete case of Crimea,
making an *exception* from this rule was the option that caused the
least strife in the OSM community.

While there is nothing wrong with having exceptions from rules, it does
put a heavy burden on the body making such exceptions to act fairly and
accountable. We would, therefore, like to have the Disputed Area Policy
extended with guidance on the circumstances under which exceptions can
or should be made, and perhaps a mechanism of granting such exceptions
and for their expiry. We will discuss the matter with LWG.

On a more general note, there have been discussions about tagging
different sets of national borders on the tagging list and wiki recently,
and we
are looking forward to OpenStreetMap being able to model different, even
conflicting views of borders in the not so distant future. This is a
process that does not currently seem to need board intervention, but we are
following it with interest.

However you feel about this decision, we will not tolerate personal attacks
on members of either DWG or the Board related to their position on this
topic. Please see the Etiquette guidelines for more details.

Thank you

OpenStreetMap Foundation

Name & Registered Office:
OpenStreetMap Foundation
St John's Innovation Centre
Cowley Road
United Kingdom
A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales.
Registration No. 05912761.
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