[Osmf-talk] FOSSGIS position on OSMF hiring staff (WAS: Framework for the foundation's hiring practices)

Mateusz Konieczny matkoniecz at tutanota.com
Sun Jun 28 19:04:54 UTC 2020

Jun 28, 2020, 19:56 by mike at teczno.com:

> Hi,
> Michael’s suggestions of a vote-driven job description and annual membership report both circumvent the OSMF board’s oversight responsibility and effectively make the position dependent on political process.
This claims seems weird to me.

1) why direct community control over establishing job position is supposed to circumvent
oversight responsibility?
1) why public report is supposed to circumvent oversight responsibility?
3) why you think that moving politics within OSMF boards would remove political process?
It would be still a political decision, just one made by delegates.

> This will limit the quality of our job candidates and hurt OSM’s effectiveness.
Why job description getting accepted by voting members would do this?

I agree that public report would be something that many candidates would dislike,
and it has also some negative effects.

But I would consider OSMF becoming like Wikimedia Foundation or becoming dependent
on companies such as Facebook to be far more dangerous.

Even if more control over paid positions would actually hurt OSM’s effectiveness but
make less likely to degenerate into WMF lookalike then it is a very useful and desirable
tradeof (details depend on strength of both effects)

> Most organizations with a board-like or elected political structure such as non-profits, governments, and corporations recognize that everyday administrative work must be insulated from fickle politics
Nobody proposed day to day micromanagement. Obviously, getting micromanaged via public
vote of OSMF members would be ridiculous. But that is a pure strawman.

> , so they set up layers of delegation and responsibility: non-profit EDs and corporate CEOs oversee operational work, while in government it’s normal to separate political appointments and civil service responsibilities.
Frankly, OSM and OSMF works far better than a typical non-profit/government/corporation
so "everybody is doing this" is not something convincing.

I would rather look at organizations who are successful at managing volunteers that are
doing things as a hobby. Taking big corporation as a model is not something that is 
likely to work.

> In OSM, we have several rings of community responsibility:
> 1) OSM mappers
> 2) OSM community regularly active on lists, chat, etc.
> 3) OSMF voting membership (1,000s)
> 4) OSMF members who actually vote (100s)
> 5) Elected board (7)
> Only the elected board can offer paid staff stability from year to year; everyone else comes and goes.
And it is not precluding putting "should we establish job position XYZ for 1 year" (or 5 years)
to a public vote.

> Workers in paid roles need to isolated from politics so they can be effective. At my last non-profit role I was occasionally asked to report to the board and it was time-consuming and draining. The team I supported needed me to take the hit so they could focus on their own responsibilities. If we require any job to undergo approval and reporting to the general membership, smart applicants will wonder who they actually work for, what the role of the board is, and how they can be successful with so many unnamed potential bosses.
> -mike.
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
> michal migurski- contact info and pgp key:
> sf/ca            > http://mike.teczno.com/contact.html
>> On Jun 28, 2020, at 8:52 AM, Rory McCann <>> rory.mccann at osmfoundation.org>> > wrote:
>> I agree that having a person's job depend on a regular vote year on year has many problems, and I don't think it should be done.
>> But Michael isn't suggesting that, right? He's suggesting a general vote on the job description and merely a yearly report to the membership, not that the membership gets to vote on that job anymore. (right?)
>> So, while I think that sort of transparency requirement is good, I would hope that any OSMF employee would talk to the membership more than once a year! 🙂 So I'm not sure what's the point of such a weak requirement... 🤔 
>> On 26 June 2020 22:02:13 CEST, Michal Migurski <>> mike at teczno.com>> > wrote:
>>>> On Jun 26, 2020, at 12:35 PM, Michael Reichert <>>>> osm-ml at michreichert.de>>>> > wrote:
>>>> Hi Mikel,
>>>> Am 26.06.20 um 20:40 schrieb Mikel Maron:
>>>>> The third points about being responsible to the people who work for OSMF, and practically organizing management processes, also are topics to which we are paying particular attention.
>>>>> Wanted to check on the meaning of the second points about the role of OSMF members and community in these processes. Not sure if this came through the automated translation process well. What is envisioned by "approval by OSMF members" and "accountable to the OSM community"? >
>>>>> Certainly expect that community input will be sought and considered. If "approval" suggest some kind of formal vote, we think it's ultimately the role of the Board is to make decisions of this nature. On "accountable", practically speaking this typically means helping to set work plans and priorities, assessing quality of the work, etc. Considering our responsibility to those that work for OSMF, a fair work environment means someone can not have 10,000 bosses.
>>>> "approval by OSMF members" means that the members should approve the
>>>> creation of the paid job by vote. The approval should not happen on the
>>>> candidates selected by the board or to be selected by the board but on
>>>> the task description at the beginning of the hiring process (rather what
>>>> the employee should do than the requirements towards applicants).
>>> We will get better staff candidates if they’re accountable to the board only.
>>> Board members are accountable to the voting membership and required to stand for re-election every two years. Staff members should be accountable to the board only. This division of responsibilities reflects the sharp differences between a board member’s knowledge and experience vs. that of a typical foundation voter. It also provides for a better pacing: as a potential candidate for a staff position, it would be important to me to know that my livelihood would not be impacted by an unpredictable vote between AGM elections, with potentially unreliable turnout.
>>> Approval by OSMF members should take place during the regular election cycle, when the community votes for board members who express policy positions about what jobs can be handled by the community vs. professionals. Mikel’s final graf expresses this well; we’d be unnecessarily constraining the work done by paid staff to have their job oversight handled through an open membership vote.
>>> -mike.
>>> michal migurski- contact info and pgp key:
>>> sf/ca            >>> http://mike.teczno.com/contact.html
>>> osmf-talk mailing list
>>> osmf-talk at openstreetmap.org
>>> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/osmf-talk
>> -- 
>> Sent from my Android device with K-9 Mail. Please excuse my brevity.

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