[OSM-talk] Call to Take Action and Confront Systemic Offensive Behavior in the OSM Community

Andy Townsend ajt1047 at gmail.com
Thu Dec 10 00:19:52 UTC 2020

Hi Céline, hi all.

Like you, I'm just another participant in this list*.  However, perhaps 
it would be helpful to refer the existing etiquette guidelines adopted 
by the OSMF ages ago: https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Etiquette .  
It's clear that Frederik's original post didn't abide by all of the 
points under "Mailing Lists" there (which include "Calmly adding to the 
discussion can help keep things tame on the mailing list" among others; 
clearly he did not follow those recommendations).  Rory's already 
rightly called that out at 
("There are many examples of people excusing how Trump acted before the 
2016 election, claiming he would be “presidential” when elected, and you 
had to choose the example regarding sexual assault?").  It's also clear 
that your Google document doesn't abide by those either.  Note that that 
won't be visible to some quite large OSM communities who don't have 
access to Google docs due to US government restrictions.  I did try and 
include the text in this message but that caused it to exceed the list 
message limit; perhaps you could put a copy in the OSM wiki instead 
where everyone can see it?

You write "Power dynamics in OSM are controlled by a dominant 
contributor profile: white, western and male" which I doubt that many 
would disagree with.  However, you go on to say "This power dynamic 
leads to a communication style which includes misogynistic, hostile, 
targeting, doxing, unfriendly, competitive, intimidating, patronising 
messaging, which is offensive to us".

The first "mailing list" item in 
https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Etiquette is "Assume good faith".  I 
would always argue that an attempt at dialogue, which includes both 
sides listening, is always better that an escalation of rhetoric.  That 
doesn't mean there aren't actual "unfriendly"or "hostile" messages 
within OSM channels, as well as messages that were perceived as 
"unfriendly"or "hostile" even when they weren't meant as such, but it 
does mean that actually talking to the real person behind the messages 
is surely the way forward**.  Continuing with "... doxing, competitive, 
intimidating ..." without citing evidence of each of those doesn't add 
weight to the argument; it detracts from it.

That doesn't mean that people who want change have to somehow be 
restricted to "asking nicely" for it (throughout history change has been 
forced by people who refused to "ask nicely" - in the last century the 
Pankhursts, Dietrich Bonhoffer et al, the ANC and Stonewall all spring 
to mind).  It's entirely normal for both sides of a heated argument to 
view the other's as "unreasonable", but hyperbole really doesn't help to 
shed light rather than heat on things. We're all actually trying to 
achieve the same goal here*** and in an election, the community can 
decide whose vision of how to get there is best.

Speaking of which: it's a bit late for this year; but have you thought 
of standing for the board yourself?

Best Regards


(sending to the list this time after a previous attempt inadvertantly 
went astray)

* full disclosure: I'm a member of OSM's Data Working Group, so am far 
from without agency in OSM - I am also white, western and male.  With a 
DWG hat on I regularly see problems escalated to us where the language 
used has got more than a little out of control. 
is pretty typical of the approach I'll try and use in those cases

** In the world of OSM edits I'm a huge fan of changeset discussion 
comments as the primary means of discussing an edit that has been made.  
They're not a perfect mechanism, but the fact that they're public and 
inherently person-to-person helps to detoxify dialogue.

*** I'm sure that both Michal and Frederik are striving for what they 
genuinely believe is best for OSM.  The fact that they fundamentally 
disagree about how to achieve that doesn't mean that one or the other is 
acting in bad faith.

On 09/12/2020 19:06, Celine Jacquin wrote:

> Hello everybody
> I hope you are all well
> We, several groups, chapters, organizations and individuals, have 
> reacted to the conversation in the osm-talk-list 
> (https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk/2020-December/085692.html 
> <https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk/2020-December/085692.html>) 
> considering that it is an incident symptomatic of the problem we have 
> faced for many years in the community, which is one of the greatest 
> obstacles to diversity at all levels of OSM. Time to make a real change.
> That is why we have developed a beginning of statement on the 
> desirable mechanisms to work solidly on the rules of coexistence and 
> improve diversity.
> We bring it to your attention and invite anyone who feels represented 
> to sign it. Translations are in preparation (any help is welcome):
> https://docs.google.com/document/d/130JCTX9ve4H4ORXznmIVTpXiN3TX8nRGA8ayuTZ9ECI/edit?usp=sharing 
> <https://docs.google.com/document/d/130JCTX9ve4H4ORXznmIVTpXiN3TX8nRGA8ayuTZ9ECI/edit?usp=sharing>
> On behalf of the signatories
> Best regards
> Céline Jacquin
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
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