[Osmf-talk] Comments on Microgrant Implementation (WAS: Microgrant Implementation Voted on by the Board without Community Consultation?)

Michael Reichert osm-ml at michreichert.de
Mon Oct 14 21:08:23 UTC 2019

Hi Joost, dear other board members,

Am 12/10/2019 um 21.23 schrieb Joost Schouppe:> Thanks for the input you
already gave, and looking forward to your more
> detailed feedback. We would like to welcome the rest of the community to do
> the same. I have some minor edits to the ODT file you linked, so as to make
> it more readible for people who weren't following the Board discussion
> before.

The message might look a bit picky but it should cover almost anything
relevant I can say about the draft.

First of all, the parts of the document which partially contradict

Section "Examples of good ideas":
> Design work (e.g. leaflets, stock image creation) & updating such
> digital files.

On the other hand, "Eligibility criteria" says:
> Funds for offline activities are typically for direct expenses and not
> used to pay for people’s time. Funds can be used to pay for people’s
> time in certain cases, for example on software projects and tools
> development.

Does this mean that the work of designing leaflets or creating stock
images cannot be funded but printing of leaflets can? IMHO, the term
"design work" means the work to design. Or do we have different
interpretations of it? What did you want to express?

I am a bit confused what can be founded with projects matching this
> Funding for a school or university to integrate mapping in their
> curriculum, run projects mapping their local area and working with
> local stakeholders to use their data.

Do you have examples from the past for that and, what could these
project ask to be funded if the microgrant programme had existed back
then? What is not paying someone for their work but still covered by the
microgrants programme? Hosting an event? Would travelling be an
acceptable thing to fund? But it is mentioned in the list of things
unlikely to be accepted? It is a bit confusing.

The draft contains an unnecessary duplication between "Eligibility
criteria" (page 3) and

In addition, I have more feedback:

The document itself gives a good framework regarding desired and
undesired projects. It describes the requirements. This is great and a
big step forward compared to the last documents I saw regarding the
microgrants programme. However, I do not find anything how applications
will be rated or ranked. The draft does not provide any criteria.

Do you expect the committee to decide on that prior to the launch of the

Possible rating criteria could be:
- Sustainability (from OSM point of view): Will the spent money have any
  effect in two or three years as well?
- What problem does the proposed project solve?
- How urgent is the problem?
- Do other projects reach more with the same or a lower amount of money?

They could guide a discussion on the OSMF-Talk mailing list (more about
discussions below).

The question of goals and rating criteria should be answered before the
programme is finally agreed on. The board knows what it would like to
achieve with the money, doesn't it?

*Additional Funding by Others*
I miss a rule that funding by third parties and in the past needs to be
mentioned in the application. Parallel funding by multiple donors should
not be accepted. Otherwise we will end up funding large projects
partially. Is that the intention of the board?

"One-off consts related to hosting" are given as a good example but
"Recurring hosting, rent and other costs" are "unlikely to be
accecpted". Costs to host servers are about half of all projects
applying for a FOSSGIS grant and make up two thirds of the costs of
FOSSGIS microgrant programme. I understand that you do not want ongoing
costs for a first microgrant programme pilot because it can come with a
moral obligation to fund the project in its second year.

At FOSSGIS, we usually fund projects which have a community behind them
and most projects funded by us are not new. They have been funded from
peoples' or companies' own budget before (typically EUR 40 to 100 per

*Funding Merchandise and Giveways*
"Merchandise (swag) to recognize exceptional volunteer contributions, or
low-cost swag" is a good example but "Merchandise giveaways for all
participants in an event or for general outreach, including t-shirts" is
a bad example. I agree with the bad example but I wonder where to draw
the border.

*Server Hardware*
"Server hardware" is given as a bad example. At FOSSGIS, such examples
are unlikely to be accepted except the hardware will be owned by FOSSGIS
and be under the control of FOSSGIS. Instead we advise people to rent a
sever at Hetzner and let us pay the bill.

*Committee, Transparency and Mailing Lists Discussions*
I have mixed opinions regarding the committee. On the one hand, I prefer
these people be elected by the members of the Foundation directly. On
the other hand, the result of that election will not be as diverse as
some would like the committee to be because the result of an election
using STV will represent the structure of the working group. On the one
hand, it could be a bit too much bureaucracy to elect the committee for
a first test for a microgrant programme, on the other hand, four of
seven board members can carry through "their committee" in a voting of
the board members against the minority (the other three officers).

I myself do not oppose the current setup as long as the whole process is
as much transparent as possible. We are not going to fund travel because
applicants have a too low income to pay it themselves. Very sensitive
data by applicants will likely not be handled in the process and makes
it easy to share the applications as widely/publicly as possible.
Therefore, I strongly recommend to follow the "public by default" principle.

EUR 50,000 is a lot of money and the committee has despite the veto
right of the board a lot of power. This power should be accompanied by
transparency. Sharing the applications with the OSMF-Talk list as a
mandatory step of the application and discussing it there is excellent.

However, it will lead to a peak in messages sent over the list because
likely most applications will arrive shortly before the deadline. At
FOSSGIS, people have to publish their application at our public wiki
(https://www.fossgis.de/wiki) and email the board. After that the board
starts the discussion (limited to two weeks) at the mailing list of the
members. Members can ask questions to the applicant and do this very
often (they take off the work to review the proposals in detail). The
list is not public but messages are summarised on the wiki. The final
decision is up to the board. They discuss it in their public meeting. In
difference to OSMF, our microgrant programme has now deadline. You can
apply at any time and we table the final decision at one of the next two
monthly board meetings.

I suggest to let someone (be it the committee or the board) organise the
discussion on the mailing list (announcing start and end) and not to
discuss all applications in parallel (two is fine, three my preferred
limit). If we receive a large number of applications, discarding
obviously unsuitable applications before they are discussed might be a
good idea. However, the application itself should be public to ensure
checks and balances. Whether to preselect or not should be decided by
the committee.

Following the public by default principle, the meetings of the committee
should be open to the public using Mumble (same as board meetings are).

*Who Will Manage the Applications?*
In your draft, applications should be sent to
secretary at osmfoundation.org. If you want to give real power and
responsibility to the committee (you can still veto) and reduce the
workload of the board, using the committee also to organise the whole
application might be advisable. It can be a position for new people to
get into volunteering for OSMF operations. ;-)

*Limit of Applications per Applicant*
The draft writes:
> Any individual, group, or organization is allowed a maximum of three
> open grants at any one time.

Does this refer to applications or grants?

*Discussion requirement in advance*
A comment in the document (page 4) says:
> Project must have been shared and discussed before the grant
> submission start > suggesting to drop this, as this is hard to prove.

Does discussion means that the idea of the project to be funded or the
idea to apply was discussed in a suitable (usually local) communication
channel? This is a provable. Even if people use communication channels
which do not offer a proper archive, providing screen shots are
possible. You could replace this by a requirement to consult the local
community at least as described by the Organised Editing Guidelines if
the project has any relation to the local community.

*Other reasonable source
Eligibility criteria:
> You must exhaust all other reasonable sources of grant money before
> applying to this program, including but not limited to:
> - Your local OSM Chapter or organization.
> - Other local institutions or organizations known for supporting open
>   initiatives.
> - Your employer.

On the one hand, asking people to ask for funding elsewhere is good
idea. On the other hand, the proposed requirements have some issues
(they can be ignored but one should be aware of them):

- We might wish to see some proof that the employer was asked. But
  asking your employer if the employer and your job has nothing to do
  with OSM is strange, isn't it? I know that the sentence contains the
  term "reasonable" but it will be easily overlooked.

- Do we really want to force that? Are you aware that this communication
  can be seen as sensitive and employees are likely bound not to share
  internal communication with people outside the company?

- If someone gets funding by their employer, they are bound to it and
  have fewer freedom than someone funded by OSMF. The project becomes a
  pet of the company. Should the employment of an applicant influence
  the chances and projects that much?

- The requirement to ask the employer makes only sense if it a single
  person applies for a grant, not a group.

- Local chapters likely have more knowledge about the details around
  an application. That's why I would add the requirement that the
  applicatant has to share the reasons with the public why the
  application was rejected.

I would remove the item "Your employer" and add a rule somewhere in the
document that the requests to other sources of funding have to revealed
and, if declined, their reasons.

> That is, an event attendance should be free of charge, software must
> be open-sourced, media must be freely downloadable and published under
> open licenses.

Could you please append the following between "open licenses" and the
trailing dot?
> permitting modification and re-use including commercial use

CC-BY-NC-* (and CC-BY-ND-*) are no free licences. NC not that much
different to "all rights reserved" under German law.

*Personal benefit*
> Personal benefit should be small compared to benefit of outcome.

Good, but the following would be better:

> Personal benefit should be small compared to benefit of outcome. The
> application should describe potential personal benefit.

If a local community gets to know each other better, the applicant(s)
have a small personal benefit and that would be good. But we do not want
to fund someone's study, do we?

The draft (page 4):
> There is no language criterium, but applications need to be translated
> to English before the application deadline.

I appreciate this very much.

I wonder which of these aspects were mentioned by other board memebers.
Unfortunately, there are no minutes of the board meeting in Brussels I
could have taken a look into before writing this long email.

Best regards


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