[Tagging] This list requires moderation

Frederik Ramm frederik at remote.org
Sun Feb 7 12:10:59 UTC 2021


I've chosen a somewhat cheeky subject on purpose. I don't mean to say
that this list requires a moderator, or that people on this list are
impolite and offensive and all that stuff - on the contrary, this
mailing list is a place where discussions are generally factual and we
don't have trolls, abuse, bigotry, or any of that.

What I am calling for is moderation in the sense of restraint, or (a
definition from the Merriam-Webster dictionary) "observing reasonable

Discussions about tagging are important for OSM, and it is good that
they are being held here on an open mailing list. It is also good that
we are actually discussing and not just upvoting and downvoting. I don't
want to change any of that.

But the sheer volume of discussion is making it difficult for many to
follow the debates. And let's be honest: About 75% of the discussion
could be cut if we applied a little bit of ... moderation.

Things that I see too often:

* Repetition of one's own arguments. If you say something, and someone
else opposes that, simply let it stand. You have said your thing, the
other guy has said their thing, you don't need to say "but I still think
that" and then repeat everything in other words.

* Repetition of someone else's arguments in different words. All too
often we have five people essentially saying the same thing in slightly
different words. Everyone believes that the other person has got it
*almost* right but they want to add one tiny bit, or stress another
aspect, and boom, there goes a new three-page essay.

* Quick-fire responses. One person writes something, and three others
reply immediately, without having fully read or understood the other
responses, leading to a broad overlap between responses. If people were
willing to wait a little longer, maybe they could do away with their
response altogether because someone else has already said it.

* Mistaking the list for a voting platform - while it is important to
gauge what the community opinion is, if one person says something and
three others have opposed, then it is not necessary to add a fourth,
fifth, and sixth opposing voice. Three against is clear enough.

* Wanting to comment on everything - there's a few people here who seem
to see it as their responsibility to participate in every single thread.
I've been there, done that. Nowadays I still read all the threads, and I
ask myself: Is this an emergency where people will do something really
bad if I don't join the discussion and try to steer them away? If it
isn't, then I try to remain silent on that topic even if (!) I think
that people are maybe overlooking a minor detail or the discussion isn't
going exactly as I would like it.

Before you post to this mailing list, remember that every single post
uses some bandwidth, and bandwidth is limited. The more bandwidth is
wasted on unnecessary "I 99% agree but there's this one little thing
that I feel I need to write three pages about", the less bandwidth
remains for the important stuff. And a high-bandwidth mailing list
presents a higher hurdle for participation, so the more unnecessary
words we make, the fewer people will be willing and able to participate.

Before you post, ask yourself: Does what I have to say really have an
impact? Is what I am about to write something that the 100s of readers
of this list need to read?

Set yourself reasonable limits; think about how you can help us all to
save bandwidth. For example such limits could be "don't send more than
one message per day on average", or "try to make it a habit to reply to
things on the next day, rather than on the same day - unless your reply
has already been made redundant by then".

I think this mailing list is important and good work is being done here,
and I want to keep it functioning. Hence this call for "moderation", in
the sense of "observing reasonable limits". Your help is greatly


Frederik Ramm  ##  eMail frederik at remote.org  ##  N49°00'09" E008°23'33"

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