[Osmf-talk] Proposed v2 of the Local Chapters Agreement, hopefully leading to OSMUS as a LC

Christoph Hormann chris_hormann at gmx.de
Thu Jun 25 12:25:52 UTC 2020

On Thursday 25 June 2020, Allan Mustard wrote:

> The phrase "might distract" makes no sense in this context.  Distract
> ("to divert attention from") is the wrong verb here, so we came up
> with a different formulation that conveys more directly what we are
> concerned about: that the local chapters should engage in activities
> that support pursuit of the Foundation's goals, and conversely, not
> engage in activities that diverge from such pursuit. This language is
> clearer.
> Without suggesting which version of the agreement is clearer here i
would like to point out that clarity in language is very important in a
multi-language multi-cultural community like OSM and it is in general a
good idea to put more emphasis on this and refraining from use of
culture specific phrases which have become code for rather complex
things within a certain cultural context independent of the words they
are built from.  A lot of conflicts about OSMF policy in the past were
at least partly the result of a lack in clarity in formulations.

Taking the formulation of the new text:

The Chapter agrees [...] to refrain from engaging in any activity that
tarnishes the reputation or the goodwill of the OpenStreetMap
Foundation or discredits it.

While that is not explicitly vague by using words like 'might' it is
basing what the chapters are to agree to on an assessment that is
inherently subjective.  The word 'tarnish' describes a subjectively
negative influence something has on something else - what one person
sees as tarnishing another person might see as enriching.  The
reputation of someone or an organization is by definition something
subjective - someone having a good reputation in certain circles might
have a bad reputation with other people.

Now i understand that the phrase "to tarnish the reputation and
goodwill" seems to have a specific established meaning in the world of
anglo-american business contracts but such phrases really translate
poorly to other cultural contexts.  In German you would for example
likely translate that to 'Rufschädigung', 'Verleumdung' or 'üble
Nachrede' - which is a criminal offense under the German criminal code
(§ 186/187 StGB).  This however is strictly limited to *untrue
statements of fact* (unwahre Tatsachenbehauptung).  I don't know if the
established meaning of the used phrase in the world of anglo-american
business contracts also has a meaning tightly restricted in a similar
fashion - but the wording itself does not show this.  And it is
unreasonable to expect from a local chapter to know this.  Hence it is
a bad idea to use such codes in cross cultural agreements because they
are very likely to result in misunderstandings and conflicts in the
future with different people intuitively interpreting them with
different meanings.

Christoph Hormann

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