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

Martin Koppenhoefer dieterdreist at gmail.com
Fri Feb 8 10:59:18 UTC 2019

Am Fr., 8. Feb. 2019 um 08:18 Uhr schrieb Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org

> On 07.02.19 21:12, Christoph Hormann wrote:
> > in this particular case for whatever reason and
> > might take a completely different course of action the next time if you
> > feel a need for it.
> > If that is not the case what is the basis on which the board dispenses
> > exemption from general OSMF policy?
> Look, it is the very definition of an exception that it is exceptional.
> The board will dispense exemption from general OSMF policy in
> exceptional circumstances.
> If the board were to try and answer your question, defining some kind of
> basis on which exceptions will be made, then that will become a rule.

exactly, and I believe it would be desirable to have these codified, or it
will be seen as despotism. What is the message to the community of "rules"
if the board doesn't feel itself bound by them and can make "exceptions" at
will? In politics this is usually called absolutism or despotism, those in
power above the law.

To me the board statement is extremely unsatisfactory. The only reason that
was given is "a large number of complaints from active members of our
community in Ukraine", which is nothing particular, it is completely normal
that people who are involved in a conflict and feel a decision goes against
them, vocally complain. That was actually the reason for the on-the-ground
rule to be installed.

Board acknowledges "this is a conflict situation", and how does it react?
It take sides with one of the parties and overrules the decision of their
experts (DWG). This is an entirely political decision, and is creating a
worrying precedent because it means Board's actions can be completely
arbitrary (because established rules don't count for them, they can create
exceptions without codifying them: "We have been asked if this means a
general change to the existing rules, and the answer is no.").

is plain obvious where this is leading: As soon as the board says

> anything concrete - "in this case we have made an exception because of
> <X>" - you and a few other specialists will immediately point out five
> other disputes around the world that also match <X> and demand that
> board makes a similar decision there.

while now you can ask for any exception to any rule, because nothing
concrete was said at all.

> But this would thwart the desire to have *less* conflict in the
> community; it would create more!

One thing is the conflict between 2 countries and the protest of a few
vocal members of one country, the other is the trust of all mappers in
OSMF, from all countries, that OSMF acts neutrally and balances local
interests with credibilitreliability. Making an exception to a policy in a
political question and neither giving reasons about the basis nor changing
the policy to make the decision in line with the policy, is extremely
dangerous, it sets a precedent as Tom has stated.

> But that is the whole point. That's why it is an exception and not a new
> rule.

that's why it is seen so problematic: because it is ignoring the rules.
Would the rules have been amended, it would be a different situation,
people would understand that the old rules hadn't been perfect and learning
from this incident, have now been improved. Not changing any rules, but
still ignoring them sents a completely different message.

What makes it even worse is that no timeframe or reevaluation period has
been declared. This is an exception that may last forever.

Are you really thinking the Russians will give Crimea back to Ucraine soon?
Or are we waiting to get it back through the force of arms? Or do you
agree, Russia will likely keep Crimea and the only purpose of not
acknowledging this is for political reasons, because it would be correct
for moral or legal reasons to show Crimea still as part of Ucraine, like it
was in the 60/23 years from 1954/1991 to 2014 (Ucraine gained independence
from Russia in 1991)? Is this really an "ongoing conflict" with dynamic,
unpredictable turns in every moment, or is it maybe a more or less stable
situation for almost 5 years?

The way Russia "took" Crimea was likely not correct according to
international law, at least there were some questionable circumstances.
Still one could also acknowledge that (figures based on Wikipedia) in 2014
65.3% of the Crimean population were Russian, vs. 15.1% Ucrainian or 24% in
2001. What could be seen as arguments in favor of the old situation are the
state of recognition by other countries, UN resolutions, considerations
like prefering freedom and pacifism over military power etc., but they were
not mentioned in the Board announcement, (and it would have opened a series
of different cans of worms naturally).

I also believe this exception goes against the Core Values as stated here:
Ground Truth: OSM favours objective “Ground Truth” over all other sources

The scope of the Board is "Sets core values for OSM (via consultation)".
On Christoph's question "Why The board didn't think about using the OpaVote
or other system to open the decision to the community?"  Mikel replied
"This was never discussed as an option. The Board is the every day
executive decision making body within the OSMF, and took this situation on
as our responsibility, as we do with many situations placed before the
IMHO Board has not recognized the importance of the issue. As it touches
our Core Values, the broader community should have been involved (it does
not mean you can not still do it) in such an important issue (for both
reasons: because of the core values and because you reversed the DWG
decision, a body which is generally highly respected by the community).

Sorry this has become so long.

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