[OSM-talk] Database Maintenance

Lars Aronsson lars at aronsson.se
Sun Aug 5 16:47:01 BST 2007

Dave Stubbs wrote:

> On 30/07/07, Jeroen Dekkers <jeroen at vrijschrift.org> wrote:
> A lot more money might help... it's hard to be "professional" on a
> shoe string, with volunteers who would probably like to be not up all
> night as they probably have to go to work at some point.
> And just to put this in perspective. My highly "professional" bank has

There's a whole lot wrong with this reasoning.  It's not the 
bank's (or telephone company's) money that makes them keep their 
servers up.  They'd rather pay bonuses to their management or 
dividends to their owners, than spend money on keeping servers up.  
The driving force is the competition and the bank's fear of losing 
business.  OSM (and Wikipedia and most open source projects) 
doesn't have competition (or fear), so it can abuse its 
contributors and users as it pleases.

I'm not saying that any of this needs to change.  The error is not 
in OSM, it's in your understanding (both guys) of these 
fundamentals.  If our understanding improves, we can learn how to 
improve the system or we can learn to live with what we have. 
JOSM's elasticity, its ability to let your edits survive a server 
outage, is a good example of the latter.

One thing is certain: A million pounds alone is not going to 
improve the server uptime.  (Steve might use that money, not for 
management bonuses, but for a permanent month-of-code, and server 
uptime might still be only half good.  I wouldn't blame Steve, 
though.  I would do exactly the same in that situation.)  But the 
risk of losing a million pounds might do.

Imagine a competing bank across the street that advertises "are 
your bank's servers online when you need them?" and you started to 
see people walking over there.  You can say that this is what 
happens when people are viewing the maps of Informationfreeway or 
Metalabs instead of www.openstreetmap.org, but serving map viewers 
is not OSM's primary function, and only a marginal source of 
advertising income.  Even if there was a competing project that 
was attracting the volunteer community, the free licensing makes 
OSM almost immune against such competition.  The only "risk" for 
Steve is that mass media attention would turn to the founder of 
the competing project rather than him.  Such a competition 
situation (not based on server uptime, but on content reliability) 
is what exists between Wikipedia and Citizendium, but the latter 
has a very long way to go.

  Lars Aronsson (lars at aronsson.se)
  Aronsson Datateknik - http://aronsson.se

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