[Osmf-talk] Toward resolution of controversies related to iD

Simon Poole simon at poole.ch
Tue Jun 9 11:00:07 UTC 2020

I wanted to skip this (for obvious reasons) but given the direction the
discussion is going, some comments seem to be warranted:

1) General

In practical terms the OSMF is granting a de-facto monopoly to the
default editor on openstreetmap.org and with that substantial leverage
over the project and exposure.  The OSMF can't simply wash its hands of
it once that has been done. Further, given that the software is
distributed by the OSMF and is an integral part of the website, the OSMF
is clearly legally responsible for all aspects of the app, from privacy
violations, to trademark issues and so on. You don't see Facebook
arguing that it isn't subject to the GDPR because most of its UI is a
bunch of javascript running in the browser on the users computer, or is
an app running on the users phones and not on a central server operated
by FB. 

2) Tagging / Presets

I actually consider this the least problematic issue, but it is the one
everybody jumps on. It was clearly less of a problem with iDs
predecessors which were far less prescriptive because presets had a much
smaller role in editing in those apps (add the same goes for JOSM too).

Most of the questionable preset/tagging decisions did/do not originate
with the iD devs, but from people that didn't get their way in other
forums and realizing that there was essentially no vetting on the iD
side of things. Making the potential gains -larger- is going to make
gaming the system more attractive, not less. It has been suggested
multiple times, but here it is again, the presets should be separated
out in to a separate project, and on the fly replacement by the users
should be possible, this has the consequence that the developers can't
simply change things on a whim, but that's life.

The other, specific to iD, quirk, is the use of values queried from
taginfo, this sounds like a good idea, but has lots of issues in
practice (see my preset talk at SOTM Milano for more on this). I'm not
advocating turning this off completely (which would be a clear
consequence of having one true set of presets), but I would suggest that
the UI be changed so that it becomes clear that such additions are at
best an educated guess (at worst total nonsense).

3) Editing and other policies

This is the area that I consider actually worthy of intervention.

It cannot be that just because a developer believes mailing lists are
evil, that the OSMF ends up promoting commercial social media companies
over its own communication channels, it cannot be that because a data
consumer moans about difficulties consuming OSMF data to the developers,
that the OSMF starts promoting explicit over implicit tagging without
any prior community consultation, it cannot be that because a specific
neat feature is possible it gets implemented regardless of the legal
consequences for the OSMF.

Avoiding all this conflict really just requires the developers taking a
step back from their own personal positions and reflecting on who they
are actually building the app for, and if necessary, asking before
becoming too invested in a specific feature. In the absence of such
insight the OSMF needs to halt deployment on its servers till the
situation is rectified.


PS: because we don't know who is actually holding the purse strings "who
they are actually building the app for" is naturally a source of
potential conflict, I am assuming that in the end the goals align even
though this continues to be a highly problematic constellation. A
related but separate issue are the third party deployments of iD, most
notable by HOT and Facebook, where we are not just losing control on
editing, but the whole messaging surrounding OSM.

Am 05.06.2020 um 23:46 schrieb Allan Mustard:
> Dear OSMF Members,
> Please find attached a request for comment on possible approaches to
> resolving controversies related to upgrades to and modifications of
> the iD editor.  Please send back any responses via this mailing list.
> Thank you.
> Allan Mustard
> Chairperson, OSMF Board of Directors
> _______________________________________________
> osmf-talk mailing list
> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
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