[OSM-talk] Racist, insulting and abusive comments on OSM related channels

Bert -Araali- Van Opstal bert.araali.afritastic at gmail.com
Mon Mar 15 13:43:26 UTC 2021

Hello all,

Sorry for the somewhat delayed reply, I needed a break since this was 
keeping me busy the whole night.

I was not directed there through the "OSM Community Index", I do think 
we should list all channels there, including and undiscriminating non 
open sources as there are many.
In case a community member feels offended or notices other community 
members being offended, who for whatever reason don't want or wish to 
speak out, then I do support the general policy of consultation, 
creating awareness and if that doesn't bring any change in the 
behaviour, reporting to the DWG and/or the board so they can sanction 
them accordingly.

In the case of the OpenStreetMap World server, I was just observing, not 
participating in any conversation. As it carries the OpenStreetMap brand 
name, see if it really acts and actively values the OSM community.  Most 
other non open source channels do seem to achieve this, lets call them 
by name, Telegram Groups, WhatsApp groups do this, Facebook I don't 
know, since I didn't observe it yet.
As an observer, I personally was not targetted by any of the comments, 
in the contrary, in some messages my name and my personal opinions 
respected and referenced.

Unfortunately, you have to join the group to be able to read what is 
going on there. There is a limited group of OSM members, active on this 
DIscord Server, under the same or similar names as on OSM, that seem to 
find this channel appropriate to undermine our community guidelines, 
like the Organised Editing Guidelines, actively soliciting for organised 
edits to justify or promote proposals etc... . An issue that already was 
brought up in this forum with the necessary drama. Issues, that can, in 
a decent dialogue, should be able to be resolved, if necessary with 
consultation of the DWG.

This doesn't however address the inappropriate language used by some, 
which seems to gain support from newcomers.  And to Mateusz, I would 
like to say, posting a message here to direct OSM contributors to 
determine themselves if what is happening there is non acceptable, is 
promoting this channel, but feel free if you feel like you want to 
connect your name to it and promote it...,

Some of the messages I've seen there have been removed, but after "the 
harm was already done".  Justifications and actions by users and the 
moderators , came after my message on this forum as it is bridged to 
I leave out the most extreme examples as it helps no one to be repeated, 
they contain "historic" references and terms, aiming at certain 
countries and communities and religions, which are not acceptable, 
actively acted against by the UN and the global community.
But for those interested some of the less graving messages are literally 
quoted here:
"Shrubs is dumb, but otherwise I agree it's minor"
"That's why we need mob rule to fix tagging."
"All micromapping seems overly complicated to me, but there's some 
Hungarian college kid that will do it."

I know, as the moderators say, all not so extreme, but I, personally, 
got more and more agitated, also by the comments after my compliant by 
some of the moderators that in their opinion it is not that bad.... This 
is where it starts, where is the end ?  When do you act.  I also didn't 
contact the moderators their in the first place since some of them seem 
to practice and support the same tone in their dialogues, I couldn't or 
didn't determine if some of the abusers are the moderators.

To conclude this mail, I do think as an OSM community we should react.  
The channel is using the OSM name, actively uses and links direct to 
OSM, engages and recruits OSM members, so they should be treated as 
local chapters acting on social media, with proper attribution and 
acceptance of their code of conduct and handling abuses by the DWG and 
our board.

They invited me to discuss it publicly on their forum, I will, I will 
ventilate my personal objections, and how this behaviour and language 
makes me think twice again, to put on an OSM T shirt or hat, I don't 
like to be referenced as representing and promoting this, even if it is 
just a small group amongst an otherwise great open community.

Thank you for taking your time to read this,

Bert Araali

On 15/03/2021 13:22, Mateusz Konieczny via talk wrote:
> It seems to be referring to OpenStreetMap World (there are multiple
> OSM-related Discord servers).
> I invite everyone to look there and judge on their own whatever
> description matches reality (invite link is available on the
> Wiki- https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Discord 
> <https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Discord>, right now it is
> https://discord.gg/4smYkq3gzp <https://discord.gg/4smYkq3gzp> - 
> viewing content requires account
> creation).
> If you join the server, you can see all the discussion channels like
> everyone else (except ones used solely for handling of moderation).
> Anyone on this Discord server who sees problems can send a message to a
> moderator directly, ping a helper, or message @ModMail. @ModMail is a
> bot at the top of the user list. Use it to talk directly, and
> privately, to the entire mod team. (Modmail is a common bot used on
> thousands of Discord servers.)
> The Moderation team consists of nine members from various countries
> around the globe, specifically to cover all timezones in-case of any
> issues that need actioning. (I am one of the people with ability to
> remove users or content).
> The server is, in general, a very well moderated space. Rarely I catch
> bitcoin spam before other moderators, so I would gladly remove
> abusive/racist/insulting/NSFW/spam/scam content as against rules (maybe
> together with their authors).
> Sadly, I failed to locate anything resembling what you mentioned,
> despite spending significant time on that. Other moderators also tried
> to locate content described in this email.
> One of the moderators contacted you through Discord, so far content
> that you described was not found. Can you please describe it more
> precisely at least to a moderator that is trying to remove it?
> For example I tried to locate:
> > vote lobbying for and against proposals because they are made by
> > "another" countries community member, it's nearing to hate speech...
> There is #proposals channel where some proposal authors are active
> asking for feedback, announcing votes, and asking for votes.
> It was never argued there that you should support or oppose any
> proposals based on nationality.
> Is it referring to comments like
> > That particular opposition seems to be mainly from non-native English
> > speakers that don't seem to get that scrub inherently is used for
> > wild areas
> ?
> Because it is not hate speech or even close to it.
> > Whole communities being insulted (words I don't even dare to use)
> Is it referring to the following exchange?
> > User1: Conspiracy theory: OpenStreetMap is a German plot for world
> >        domination
> > User2: This turned wrong quickly
> > User1: I never said it was a Nazi plot
> > User2: I know it was just a joke :slight_smile:
> > User3: Our secret plot is to fill the world with burocracy till
> >        everything is accounted for
> Or a comment that jokingly referred to multiple no votes on shrubbery
> proposal as "German assault"?
> Or something else? Because I would consider it a substandard joke at
> worst, I would not consider it as something objectionable.
> I have failed to find any insults so grave that even quoting them is
> unacceptable.
> Note:
> - User3 is from Germany.
> - that is the most aggressive content in thousands of comments posted
>    there
> > Racist
> (from the title)
> I tried really hard to find anything that matched, sadly I failed. One
> of the moderators contacted you, can you forward to them the racist
> comments/content, so that it can be eliminated?
> There have historically been cases of bans of users for racist or rude
> content, but they were just spam by recently joined accounts - that got
> deleted immediately.
> > insulting and abusive comments (...) disgusting
> Also, please forward to moderator who contacted you content that you
> encountered and describe this way. That would make possible to locate
> anything that would match your description.
> I planned to wait longer to explain what exactly is being reported but
> as the situation is escalating
> ( https://github.com/osmlab/osm-community-index/pull/424 
> <https://github.com/osmlab/osm-community-index/pull/424> ), this post
> was made sooner than planned.
> Please, if you encounter any racist, disgusting, inappropriate,
> harmful, or abusive (there or elsewhere) - please report it to
> moderators using whatever tool is available on a given platform. In
> general it is a good idea to quote, link or otherwise specifically
> identify rule-breaking content.
> On this Discord server send a message to @ModMail account.
> This message was consulted with the moderation team on OpenStreetMap
> World Discord server.
> Mar 14, 2021, 21:29 by bert.araali.afritastic at gmail.com:
>     Dear all,
>     This is a call to our whole community,
>     I have become only recently active on OSM's community channels. I
>     am very welcomed, respected on the various talk pages, and I
>     appreciate that.
>     The past month I have been following different alternative
>     channels, Telegram groups, WhatsApp groups, and... Discord.
>     All of them using the OSM name, which for me stands as a quality
>     mark, not just as a trade mark. Being channels that respect,
>     values and understands different cultures, different opinions,
>     promotes decent and democratic principles, respect the "etiquette"
>     required of calling yourself an OSM contributor, a member of this
>     community.
>     However, what I see on Discord, all under the OSM trade name,
>     sorry for the word... is disgusting.
>     Whole communities being insulted (words I don't even dare to use),
>     remarks of non-English communities making "dumb" remarks, vote
>     lobbying for and against proposals because they are made by
>     "another" countries community member, it's nearing to hate
>     speech... really disgusting.
>     The ones who are on these channels know who and what I am talking
>     about, I kindly ask you, stop this please.  This is not welcome,
>     highly inappropriate and not how you communicate with your fellow
>     human beings, your fellow OSM contributor. Stop, go and look in
>     the mirror, and ask yourself what am I doing, is this how I want
>     to be known in a worldwide peaceful community ?
>     I didn't file a compliant at the DWG, I didn't call this subject
>     to be handled in the OSMF board (yet), I first call in this
>     channel, and everyone who experiences the same, feels the same
>     discussed, speak out, comment on this channel, because I don't
>     want to be associated with a channel that uses the OSM name where
>     by some, not all not the majority, but some, disguise and
>     dis-value what we stand for.
>     And please, don't call names in your comments, it's not limited to
>     people from one country particular, one community. Just express
>     your concerns, and when this behaviour doesn't change, we as a
>     community can and will take action, identify the malicious minds
>     and practices, and remand or ban them. Let your comment be their
>     first warning.
>     Kind regards,
>     Bert Araali
> _______________________________________________
> talk mailing list
> talk at openstreetmap.org
> https://lists.openstreetmap.org/listinfo/talk
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/talk/attachments/20210315/0673e64f/attachment-0001.htm>

More information about the talk mailing list