[OSM-talk] Advertising debate held hostage by Wittgenstein

Scott Walde scott at waldetech.ca
Sun Jul 8 05:11:08 BST 2007

Tom Chance wrote:
> Hullo,
> On Saturday 07 July 2007 21:09:02 Lars Aronsson wrote:
>> The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, in his Tractatus, pointed out
>> that "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent".
> I have, thus far, been silent on this debate, but I wanted to say that this 
> post summarised most of my thoughts very well.

I, too, have read most of this debate and so far remained quiet.  The 
question about the "silent majority" has been brought up a few times 
lately and I felt it would be important to add my opinion to the "vocal" 

Although I actually had to make an effort to see the ad, originally, I 
didn't like it.  It didn't seem right to place advertising directly on 
the map.  It devalues the map, much like one of those cheesy placemat 
maps with all the tourist traps marked.  I should make it perfectly 
clear, I'm not at all against advertising, or commerce, or making 
money.  Targeted ads beside the map, perhaps with a highlight on the map 
that toggles when you mouse over the ad, would not be offensive at all 
to me.  The problem, in my eyes, was defacing the map with non-map 
information.  There, that's my opinion on the ads, and I'll leave it at 

The bigger issue, however, in my opinion, was the reactions of certain 
members of the community.  Remember, OSM is more than a project... it 
really is a community. (anyone could fork the project tomorrow, but if 
the people didn't follow, it would be nothing.) The initial reactions to 
the ads were perhaps over-reacting, but, in my thoughts, not 
unexpected.  Here was something that was sprung on "us" (the community) 
without much warning.  Many of us view this as "our" map, and to have 
someone unilaterally "deface" our map can be upsetting at first.  What I 
found more disturbing was Steve's initial response which, as I recall 
it, was basically a big F-You. (OSMF membership, etc, etc, etc.)  Steve, 
you are the founder and the leader of our community.  Leadership always 
puts you in a place of higher accountability.  What I saw was not a 
suitable response for a leader of anything.  Additionally, you should 
have had more time to collect your thoughts on this matter.  (having 
obviously known about the ads for longer than most of us.)  But it 
didn't stop there... the bickering continued in the AND thread, coming 
to a head again with the "fuckwits/dumb fucks" message. 

Now, as a member of this community, I need to make a decision.  I have 
only been mapping for about 6 months, but I absolutely love it.  I have 
mapped substantial amounts of Saskatchewan and have worked on software 
to follow rivers on Landsat images.  (not bragging... just pointing out 
i have been more than casually involved.)  I have also spent many late 
nights on IRC as a member of the community.  My experience, however, has 
been soured by the actions of its leader.  Do I want to be led by 
someone who may call me a "fuckwit" or "dumb fuck?"  (remember, I 
actually feel the same about the ads as the people who were directly 
called this)  The answer is "no."  I see the ads have been removed.  
Sadly, by now, that's not even the issue anymore.  The damage has been 
done, and I see little to no attempt to begin repairing it.

For the near future, at least, my involvement with OSM will be reduced 
to "Lurk." 


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