[OSM-talk] Thoughts on OSM design, and looking forward and back

SteveC steve at asklater.com
Tue Feb 23 23:42:29 GMT 2010

Hi Andy

Thanks for your thoughtful comments...

You don't seem to make any realistic suggestions for moving forward and just, instead, suggest potlatch is fine as is the front page. That doesn't seem to be in touch with the reality of every newbie who encounters the project, does it?

Sure, you don't like the way I communicate sometimes but do you have any ideas at all on improving things other than the status quo and pissing on someone for doing anything?

On that point, I suppose I could write a big flowery essay on how awesome everyone is, and mostly we all are, but the hard fact is that the site and experience need improving and nothing's been done in quite a while. It's most interesting that all the (private, usually) comments from people who joined in the last year or so are very positive about the changes and everyone of 'our' generation is intensely negative.

Yours &c.


On Feb 23, 2010, at 4:29 PM, Andy Allan wrote:
> On Tue, Feb 23, 2010 at 8:17 PM, SteveC <steve at asklater.com> wrote:
>> I know matt takes it personally that the logo is anything other than perfect, and richard takes it personally that potlatch is crap for newbies... but that's just fact of the matter as I constantly hear from designers, newbies and so many others. I don't care about personal feelings on those particular topics [...]
> Then maybe you should. Over the years I've listened to you telling
> everyone how OSM isn't a technical project; it's all about community.
> But if you were within reach I'd bludgeon you with Matt's copy of "The
> Art of Community" ( http://bit.ly/cWU58j ) until you stopped being so
> bloody offensive on the mailing lists. Or maybe you should watch this
> video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSFDm3UYkeE - "Build a Strong
> Community Based On Politeness Respect Trust Humility" etc etc.
> Seriously Steve, if you want to solve *any* of the problems you are
> discussing you would do much better by trying to build a community of
> people to help - instead of alienating, yet again, all the people who
> have done most to drive this project to the point that it's at. I know
> you love it that you founded this whole thing, and I know that unless
> you're involved you think that nothing actually gets done, and that if
> start a mail telling us all you read books and sprinkle in some
> quotations that it makes up for the fact you haven't a clue what's
> actually going on in the project any more. But you're wrong on every
> count.
> I'm trying to think if there's anyone left who you haven't had a go
> at? Frederik, TomH, Grant, Matt, Richard ... ,  everyone who disagrees
> with you on licensing, and all the people who ask you to stop having a
> go at all the other people in the project who do a hell of a lot more
> than you can be arsed giving them credit for.
>> It's clear after years of chatter that the community is the wrong place to innovate on design and probably editing too. The model of 'wait for someone to do it' works well on a bunch of things, but not everything. How did I get the design done? I paid $70 to a really great designer and html coder in peru who I worked with over skype to come up with the straw design. For $70 (at $7/hour) I got more done than the last 1-2 years of design in OSM.
> And you got a design that looks like it cost $70. We've discussed this
> before, and it's not graphical design that's the problem, it's user
> experience. Yet this new design "solves" everything by simply removing
> all the functionality from the front page, and just have a "more..."
> button. Utter rubbish. Anything can become "more intuitive" by simply
> removing functionality. I can't believe you seriously think this
> design is any improvement beyond the rounded corners.
> But that's not surprising, since you haven't thought through what the
> website needs - what's it's purpose? Here's a hint: it's building the
> OSM community. When we have a community, the map will follow. Where is
> the best community? Germany. But I haven't seen any reference to
> www.openstreetmap.de, where it's strengths are, or what could be
> improved or learned from. Or any of the other OSM regional websites.
> But that's because you don't give a shit what anyone else has done,
> and you think that a crappy mockup is the only thing that anyone has
> come up with in the last 1-2 years. You're wrong. There are plenty of
> people out there doing great things - but again, you have such an ego
> that you can't contemplate it's happening without you knowing about
> it.
>> There are talented flash coders, designers and more who will even work for free to help us too but just can't put up with people pissing all over their work, which is what usually happens on these lists
> There's much less pissing all over each other's work when you're off
> doing other things. Sure, there's plenty of discussions about vaporous
> ideas, but when it comes to someone saying "the most popular editor is
> shit and written by someone who doesn't give a shit" there's only one
> person around here that does that. It's gobsmackingly offensive. And
> it's gobsmackingly destructive behaviour from the founder of OSM and
> chairman of the foundation. Politeness? Respect? Humility?
>> And that involves putting a buffer between the old timers in the community and people who want to move it forward.
> That is a dreadful concept, and you should be ashamed of what you've
> written here.
>> Case in point, PL2. We have no idea when it's coming, if it will work or what. What I personally want to see is a community of people behind building the thing like there is behind the rails codebase or even JOSM. But everyone's so afraid of pissing off richard, or doesn't have the time to work it all out, we're not moving forward like we should be.
> Speak for yourself - we had a great time working with Richard at the
> P2 hack weekend. It's the first time I've had someone invite me round
> to their house for the weekend to do OSM coding, and he repeatedly
> helps me with the P2 coding. I know, I know, what actually happens
> isn't important - you're just here to tear our developer community to
> shreds by denigrating everyone's work and making out like you're the
> only one who can save us.
>> Back to paying someone. Is it the best solution? No. Will the result be perfect? No. Is it the best way to get open source code built? No, but I point out that most of the Linux kernel is now built by paid employees. Would Richard like to be paid to work on PL? No, I've tried a bunch of times. Would someone else in the community? Maybe. Should we try something again like bounties? Maybe that too. But just sitting around with the status quo on all these issues isn't getting anywhere fast.
> First off, it's normally the people who already work on OS projects
> that get paid to continue, not random people being paid to work on
> existing projects. You've got cause and effect mixed up there. You
> could hire random people to work on OSM, but that would be a disaster.
> Your company has plenty of developers, but you've got them duplicating
> editors and community portals on other domains. I'd be happy to be
> paid to work on Potlatch, or other OSM coding, if you're offering -
> again?
> Oooh, here's an idea - how about you keep ranting on the mailing lists
> about how shit Potlatch is, how our volunteer developers are useless,
> and then suggest hiring random people who know nothing about OSM.
> That'll really help motivate our existing development community - the
> ones who have built *everything* we've got today. Oooh yes. Brilliant.
>> At this point I will get a load of flames that Richard is awesome, he's spent loads of time on the project and all that. I agree. But, I take that as a given as I do with anyone in the project. We're all here giving time, love and effort. We shouldn't have to preface every criticism with three paragraphs about how we're all so great.
> And nobody should have to take the shit that you give them on the
> lists, in person, and elsewhere. Do us all a favour and either learn
> to be civil or keep your denigrations to yourself.
> Cheers,
> Andy

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