[Osmf-talk] Funding of iD Development and Maintenance

Emilie Laffray emilie.laffray at gmail.com
Wed Aug 5 13:56:11 UTC 2020

Hello Andy,

thank you for vocalizing a lot of what I have been thinking. You are
extremely on point.
It is presented as the way forward without too much context.

On a different point, parallels have been raised with other open source
communities and dismissed with a general statement "There is nothing like
OpenStreetMap". I consider it to be quite astounding that we can just say
"Well, the others have succeeded or failed but it is not directly relevant
to us cause we are unique". There is an element of truth in that but it is
an oversimplification.

Fundraising and paying for staff are common elements of Open Source,
whether you look at Wikimedia, The Linux Foundation or even Mozilla. They
all did in their own way with pluses and minuses. It is not a secret that
raising money for a charity or an organisation IS EXPENSIVE. Are we saying
we won't need at some point someone dedicated to raise money? It looks like
we are considering increasing the payroll of the foundation but we will
need to pay for that at some point and raise more money.

I am definitely not opposed to getting staff and I think there is a need
for the foundation to actually hire (like the accountant) for specific
positions and/or specific missions. I am reluctant to start just hiring
more staff because we want to be more "professional". What are the short
term, medium term or even long term visions? How do we sustain the
foundation as it stands?

I think we are ignoring as Andy pointed out the cultural shift and its
implications. Comments like "We have enough money for 3 years" are not
helpful. It is not sustainable especially as we are entering some shift in
the economy and some corporation attitude WILL shift towards money donation.

As I said before, I am definitely not opposed to paying people (during the
short time I was part of the OSMF, I strongly believed in the micro grant
and even pushed for the accountant bit). But I think we have to be careful
on how we proceed not so much because we will have some staff but because
it will have implications on the project. This is not a call for a status
quo but this is a call to think what it will imply.

On Wed, Aug 5, 2020 at 8:56 AM Andy Allan <gravitystorm at gmail.com> wrote:

> On Wed, 5 Aug 2020 at 14:17, Frederik Ramm <frederik at remote.org> wrote:
> > Perhaps the OSMF could concentrate on the "operative business" - having
> > members, collecting money, running servers, employing staff, etc. - and
> > there could be a nondescript charity somewhere that holds domain names,
> > trademarks, and database rights.
> >
> > Or the other way round, possibly you meant that by "arms-length
> > organisations", that the OSMF becomes the nondescript charity that only
> > has a couple of trademarks and rights, and all the operative business is
> > run by the "OpenStreetMap Services Ltd." or whatever, which would be the
> > organisation that can fail without tearing down the project.
> As I said in my first email, I'm not advocating a bare-minimum
> do-nothing approach for the OSMF (nor achieving the same thing by
> switching the bare minimum to another organisation). There's room for
> OSMF to do plenty of things while balancing the risks.
> But I haven't seen anything to suggest these risks are being balanced,
> or even assessed. None of the proposals have even hinted that there
> might be downsides, or alternative approaches, that the members should
> consider. They've just been presented as an unequivocal good thing,
> leaving many of the responses with "sounds good" and little more than
> that.
> Two small examples might illustrate my point:
> 1) The decision was made to make the SSRE job permanent from the
> get-go, rather than other options such as a fixed-term contract. But
> there's nothing to indicate that the Board have considered or
> mitigated any risks, like around terminating the contract if we decide
> that something different is required. Perhaps those risks were
> discussed? But they haven't been shared.
> 2) The iD contract will be funded by "earmarked donations from
> companies, chapters and organisations", which notably leaves out
> individuals. It's a marked shift from our previous approach to
> fundraising, and risks a disconnect between members and what the OSMF
> spends money on, and also increases the risks of large-company
> capture. We've spent many years working on the principle that we
> should fundraise from individuals to ensure our ongoing independence.
> Again, nothing showing consideration of these risks have been shared.
> 3) The board is going to appoint members of the new dispute resolution
> committee. This is again a significant departure from what we normally
> do in OSMF, where few (if any?) groups have ever been appointed like
> this. Maybe it's a better way? I dont' have a strong opinion. But we
> have nothing showing that the risks have been considered.
> Thanks,
> Andy
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