[OSM-talk] [Osmf-talk] Proposal for Software Dispute Resolution Panel
osm at imagico.de
Wed Aug 5 09:48:18 UTC 2020
On Wednesday 05 August 2020, Allan Mustard wrote:
> Please re-read the RFC that led to this proposal at
>versies-related-to-id/, which includes the statement, "This request
> for comment is expected to lead to adoption of community structures
> that will not answer to the Board or be influenced by the Board, in
> keeping with the OSM philosophy that the Board supports OSM but does
> not tell anybody what to map or how to map."
I have read all that carefully and the bottom line is the current board
has a poor track record for considerably revising decisions once they
are made (could provide a long list here but i don't think that is
necessary). So excuse me if i argue based on the work hypothesis that
in substance that RFC will become policy mostly as is. Happy to be
proven wrong about this.
> OSM has no political appointees. [...]
No point in arguing about language semantics. What i mean is that there
is no auditable selection process based on defined and documented
criteria of qualification. The board looks at the nominees. Each
board member has their favorites (based on well meaning but individual,
subjective criteria, "volunteers whose work we know and enjoy") and
then they negotiate how to fill the limited number of seats. The
result is one of political balance rather than qualification. There
will be some corporate employees but also some hobby craft mappers -
maybe also someone with HOT affiliations or some compromise candidate
in between. You will try to have at least one or two women and at
least one or two people from outside Europe and North America. The
majority will be native English speakers matching the
overrepresentation of those in the OSMF.
See the microgrants committee as an example.
> The Board selected the members of the
> Diversity and Inclusion Special Committee and the Microgrants
> Committee from among volunteers, and that was not controversial.
Just because you so far have not perceived critique does not mean it is
non-controversial. People often do not feel very inclined to
articulate critique in personnell selection because that is hard to do
without it appearing as critique of the people selected.
> > Interesting also that the composition of the panel is supposed to
> > reflect "all interests of the OSM community" but competence of the
> > panel members on the subject, experience with and knowledge of
> > mapping and tagging in OSM or in other words: The competence to
> > assess evidence on the cases they deal with and to deliberate on
> > the matters in a qualified and knowledgable way, is not a
> > criterion. Neither is impartiality on prominent special interests
> > like those of corporate data users.
> Taking the latter point first, if you consider the
> conflict-of-interest rules the Board has proposed for all
> OSMF-related bodies to be inadequate, please offer alternative
I do consider the conflict-of-interest handling and corruption
prevention of the OSMF inadequate but i will not offer alternative
regulation on that. Why? Because this is a problem of the lack of
awareness. You cannot instill awareness through policy, imposing such
policy (theoretically, practically i don't have the power to do that of
course) in the absence of sufficient awareness will lead to people
following the letter of said policy and trying to weasel around
restrictions but not follow the spirit of it. In other words -
corruption would be treated as a compliance problem rather than a
social and cultural issue.
> Since the panel would be an arm of the OSMF, it would
> quite likely need to adopt
> conflict-of-interest rules in order to conform to the requirements of
> the Companies Act, and might adopt rules similar to those of the DWG:
We have a saying in German: "Der Fisch stinkt vom Kopf her" - integrity
in an organization almost always has to come from the top through
leading by example. Or the other way round - a lack of responsibility
on the top level can rarely be compensated by islands of integrity
below. The DWG is a rare exception here, deriving largely from the
high degree of independence of the DWG from the board - and this has
caused significant friction between the DWG and board members in the
past by the way. If you think to outsource the responsibility to
ensure an ethical work style to panels and committees you appoint -
that is most likely not going to work. The microgrants committee is a
good example here - they have not documented any ethical principles for
their work so far.
> As to the competence of panel members, I am surprised that you would
> assume the Board would prefer incompetent candidates over competent
I did not make such an assumption. I pointed out that in the part about
composition of the panel the document suggests ("shall") to select by
reflection of interests but does not with a single word mention any
other qualification requirement for the panel members (beyond the
vague "background as volunteer contributors"). I do not assume
anything here, i just read the text as it is presented.
For comparison: The DWG membership policy lists fairly specific
criteria for requirements of members - both in the positive (what
qualifies people) and negative (what disqualifies people).
> I also remind you of this line in the proposal, "The
> Panel will be empowered to enlist assistance of subject-matter
> experts to study and resolve disputes, such as tagging presets." Our
> community is broad and enjoys great depth of knowledge and
> experience, and that knowledge and experience could be tapped as
> needed to fill knowledge gaps on the panel itself.
I read that with interest and my immediate reaction was: Why does the
board want such subject-matter experts to be enlisted at will by the
panel and does not strive for having them on the panel in the first
> > Transparency is limited to the ultimate decisions being made public
> > (indeed important, would be interesting how this would function
> > otherwise). I guess that means both the nominations and selection
> > of panel members as well as the deliberation and consulting of the
> > panel on cases is going to happen behind closed doors.
> Nominations could be public, if the community wanted that. If you
> feel strongly about that, put forward a positive recommendation to
> that effect, please, and we will gauge the community reaction.
I have voiced my strong preference for transparency in OSMF work in the
past on many occasions and always received strong objection from the
board more recently. Like with conflicts of interest this is a
cultural problem. If you have the firm intention to change the OSMF
work culture to be more transparent just say so and you will get plenty
of support from me and others in the community to implement such
change. But without a clear commitment here from the board i am not
willing to yet again provide concrete suggestions and yet again receive
a 'thanks but no thanks' for that. Again the more recent track record
of the board speaks for itself. The pinnacle was the microgrants
committee where the board (the previous one of course) had implemented
policy requiring transparency and the current board failed to insist on
following that policy.
> [...] There is a reason that in court cases, juries
> deliberate in private, and not under public scrutiny;
That is an intriguing idea i think: Have the panel being put together
on a case-by-case basis randomly from a pool of volunteer jurors -
disqualifying those with a lack of impartiality on the specific case.
Have the gathering of evidence and the exchange of arguments in light
of the evidence in public but the final deliberation on arguments and
evidence in private.
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