[OSM-talk] [Osmf-talk] Modus operandi of the board

Kathleen Danielson kathleen.danielson at gmail.com
Tue Oct 21 11:42:10 UTC 2014

Hi Richard,

I think you're right to post this here. While it is a matter of how the
foundation board functions and pertains specifically to the election, I
think that it would be preferable to have this discussion in a more open
forum. I replied to the post in the osmf-talk list, but I'm reposting my
reply in its entirety here, and I'll ask that people move conversation

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for highlighting Frederik's manifesto. I have to agree that it sheds
some pretty bad light on how the board operates.

I'll shy away from making any allegations of illegality because I know how
difficult it can be to keep up with the paperwork in a tiny volunteer-run
organization. Personally, I'm inclined to give the board the benefit of the
doubt in terms of membership or financial information. I suspect that had
to do with bandwidth, rather than secretive intent. As well, I can
understand the aversion to having meeting minutes taken verbatim. The
OSM-US board had several heated discussions over the last year while I was
a member and I was glad to have a place for private discussion before we
published our minutes/blog posts/etc.

Still, you raise a very important point:

Reading this manifesto indicates that there is little point in standing for
> election as there is nothing but frustration to achieve in the board.

The OSMF board sounds like an emotionally exhausting and draining body. I
can wholly empathize, but it's still a problem. Personally, I'm a bit less
interested in all of the current board members answering for Frederik's
take on the group, and more interested in what we (as members) can do to
make it a more functional place. It seems to me that we (generally
speaking) enjoy complaining that the board doesn't do anything, to which we
generally hear the response that the board's mandate is intentionally
narrow, and yet this little glimpse into what's going on in there gives a
fairly stark view of the climate each of our board members are working
within. In a situation such as that, how can you be expected to take on
much else? Who has the energy to deal with diversity initiatives, for
example, when everything is seen as so political?

Perhaps instead of the purpose of the board being too small, it's in fact
too large-- maybe they need more support in the administrative workings.
I'm reluctant to suggest more working groups, but finding some other
mechanism for support that would free up the board to be more creative
might be helpful. Maybe it's a matter of finding ways to test out new ideas
in a less risky environment, meaning we as a membership need to encourage
more experimentation and be more forgiving of failure.

None of these are cure-alls (and some of them are probably horrific ideas),
but it seems to me that yes, we want to elect passionate, excited people to
our board, but just doing that isn't enough. We need to elect these people
*and* make the structural changes that will help them be successful.
Without that, we're going to keep burning out our board members, and I
can't see us getting much done that way.


On Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 11:38 AM, Richard Fairhurst <richard at systemed.net>

> [this was originally posted to osmf-talk; I'm not a member of OSMF so
> can't reply to it there. I'm also breaking my self-imposed discipline of
> not posting to the talk@ list for this, but I figure it's important]
> Sarah Hoffman wrote:
>> while checking the candidate list for the upcoming board elections, I came
>> across Frederik's maifesto here:
>> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/User:Frederik_Ramm/
>> 2014_OSMF_Board_Elections_Manifesto
>> This sheds some rather bad light on how the board operates, indicating
>> that
>> some of the practises border on the illigal. I understand that this is the
>> individual opinion of a single board member but I believe it is important
>> that such accusations are discussed because I don't see how the board can
>> operate efficiently otherwise. It is even more important in the light of
>> the upcoming elections. Reading this manifesto indicates that there is
>> little point in standing for election as there is nothing but frustration
>> to achieve in the board.
> As a former board member, I would concur with Frederik's posting which
> tallies with my unhappy experience on the board.
> It is clear, I'm afraid, that the OSMF board is broken. Plenty of people
> know this privately but it hasn't been admitted publicly. We should stop
> pretending.
> There are some really smart people in this project and it's sad that most
> have chosen to involve themselves in their local organisations rather than
> OSMF (I'm thinking particularly the US and France here). I have no personal
> animus against the current board - quite the opposite, they're lovely
> people - but it's clear it isn't working. (And I take my share of
> responsibility as a one-time board member for failing to fix it.)
> I would like to see:
> - the whole board stand down in advance of this election;
> - now and in the future, those who have already served two standard-length
> terms (i.e. six years) should refrain from re-election and further
> involvement; this is good practice in any organisation (e.g. the US
> presidency!) but especially so in a fast-moving technology project.
> Richard
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
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