[OSM-talk] SteveC should decide

Gervase Markham gerv-gmane at gerv.net
Sat Oct 3 07:46:39 BST 2009

On 03/10/09 01:08, Frederik Ramm wrote:
> It may be your way to try and understand a conversation by looking not
> at what has been said, but at who said it and what that might reveal
> about their personal situation, upbringing, education, employment or
> other circumstances.
> I'm used to this from previous discussions in which you participiated,
> but I still don't find it (morally or intellectually) acceptable to talk
> about what you think a posting reveals about its author.  This is
> off-topic and useless at best, insulting at worst, and reflects poorly
> on your intellectual ability to engage in factual discourse.

On the contrary; understanding where someone is coming from is vital to 
understanding their point. It's part of good communication. We are not 
robots, communicating using an unambiguous digital protocol. There are 
unstated assumptions, attitudes of mind and history in the lives of all 
of us which affect what we mean when particular words or expressions are 

Everyone does this form of assessment, consciously or unconsciously, as 
part of communicating. It's just that (as another commenter pointed out) 
I said what I'd done so you could correct me.

I think you are (IMO mistakenly) opposed to people having authority 
because of your country's history and the negative consequences that 
ensued when people gave someone too much power because there were 
problems that needed sorting out. Am I wrong?

>> You need to distinguish between good leadership and bad leadership. Good
>> leadership sometimes tells people to do things they don't agree with.
> Because the leader is the intellectual visionary and the sheep cannot be
> expected to have the information or the intellectual capacity to
> understand. Yes, that is true with many religious, political, or
> business leaders of past and present.

So you think that a good leader never tells people to do things they 
disagree with?

How do you resolve disputes within GeoFabrik, if discussion does not 
provide an agreed way forward?

> Frankly, I think it may be a mistake to try an apply experience from the
> Mozilla project to OSM. I think there are vast differences between our
> projects on various levels, and it would be wrong to say "well they're
> both large projects to do with computers so they must be somehow the same".

That's not what I'm saying.

> I just don't think this is a lesson that can be transferred to OSM in a
> meaningful way.

I think that's an unwarranted generalization. You have to look at each 
point and see if the two projects are relevantly similar in that case. 
 From what organizations do you think that OSM can usefully gain insight?

How about just taking the lesson from every other provider of data? Who 
else has a data set with multiple values for true and false? Even two 
for each would be considered a bug to be fixed, let alone ten.

> * who has the power to decide which values are allowed for a certain
> tag? who would decree that "oneway" is boolean?
> * how is that codified in our software?
> * how is that codified in our social structures (votes, elections, who
> is allowed how many votes, who decides who has how many votes and how
> does the appeal process work)?
> * what happens if someone thinks they need an exemption from the rule?
> * what is the balance of power between mapper and user interests in OSM?

Right. And no-one is arguing "people should be forced to tag in a 
certain way", I am arguing that the regular, 
linked-to-from-the-front-page, normal namespace wiki should reflect a 
single, recommended way to tag, that particular sections of the tag 
space should be maintained by a loose group of experts in that area, who 
are recognised by their knowledge and contribution, that if they can't 
come to a decision then SteveC should break the deadlock among that 
group, and that after all that has happened, people can tag any way they 
like. But if they want to document alternative schemes on the wiki, 
don't do it by hacking around the page of recommendations.

> All this is possible *within* the existing OSM framework and without any
> strong leader telling us where to go.

Not, as Russ says, if any attempt is automatically branded "evil".

> I don't quite understand why those who crave most for strict rules etc.
> never, ever tried to do what I have sketched above, when it would seem
> the most natural way of evolving such a system.

Two reasons off the top of my head: because we don't want to spend ages 
developing consistent tag sets and putting them on the wiki only to have 
someone else mess around with them. And because we'd like to get some 
sort of consensus before starting off on what will undoubtedly be an 
enormous chunk of work.


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