[OSM-talk] [Osmf-talk] Candidate's views? Re: Board decision on Crimea complaint

Vladimir Agafonkin agafonkin at gmail.com
Tue Dec 11 12:40:10 UTC 2018

On Tue, Dec 11, 2018 at 12:52 PM Guillaume Rischard <openstreetmap at stereo.lu>

> The on-the-ground rule has served us well on disputed borders: there is no
> other reasonable and possible alternative. Creating an exception in Crimea,
> without any justification, opens Pandora’s box.

All of these statements are misleading. If Crimea is an exception, how is
the ground-truth rule applied in South Osetia and Abkhazia, both of which
are included in the Georgia boundary which has absolutely no control over
those territories (de-facto controlled by Russia)? Why is Transnistria
included in the boundaries of Moldova? Why does the Cyprus boundary include
a large area fully controlled by Turkey? What police and tax authority is
there in large areas of Iran and Iraq controlled by ISIS, and why are these
areas still included in the respective countries?

The only major difference in those cases compared to Crimea is that
applying the ground-truth rule there would require mapping respective areas
as independent countries. But — big surprise! — OSM community by convention
limits the list of countries to those recognized by the UN, because, as it
turns out, a country is a political entity after all. How ironic is that?

In practice, OSM never fully adhered to the ground truth rule when it comes
to country boundaries, but at least the policy was vague enough to make
arbitrary decisions, with either "ground truth" or "widely internationally
recognized" bit taking precedence depending on how the DWG members feel
about the world on a particular day. Pretending OSM is out of politics when
solving an inherently political issue does not help, because then you take
a political side implicitly (becoming a welcome tool of Russian regime
propaganda in this case).

There are reasonable and possible alternatives, such as this in-progress
disputed boundaries proposal
but due to the complexity and emotional charge of the issue, fleshing them
out to a practical consensus will take a considerable time. Until such a
common ground is found, the most practical thing you can do is to revert to
a balance point that prevents never-ending edit wars and worked well in
practice for the last 5 years. It's unfortunate that this issue wasn't
taken seriously in that period, but hopefully this crisis, however
damaging, will facilitate coming to a universal solution soon.

Vladimir Agafonkin
+380 (93) 745 44 61
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