For the TL;DR crowd, the basis of the following lays out what I feel should be achievable in providing a standard starting point to creating local chapter portals within the OSM ecosystem while at the same time allowing more active chapters to flourish externally but benefit from tools available to all. i would like to preface this with an acknowledgment that I do not have the necessary technical skills to create what i am about to propose, but maybe it might spark somebody into following through on even some aspects of this proposal. The idea behind this is to keep it as simple as possible for new members to tie in with existing members from their country / region. For myself, personally, I only got as involved as I did due to the fact of the #osm-ie Irish IRC channel where I got a lot of real-time assistance.
There are a handful of strong OSM local chapters around the world, a sprinkling of inactive or dormant local chapters and a gaping hole where no local chapters exist at all in any form despite there likely being some active OSM members from every country in the world.
I propose to change this using the starting point of account creation on openstreetmap.org
How I envisage this working is upon joining, more emphasis is put on the new member placing a "home location" marker. The small print at this point can state that it does not need to be their actual "home", but rather it can be a generic location like the city centre or a local monument if they so wish. Benefits of placing a home location marker should also be outlined at this point as:
- Automatic access to region / country specific local chapter (more on this later) etc
- Country/region specific statistics
Once new member registration is complete, they are presented with an option to edit the map, but there is an additional option to "access openstreetmap local chapter for your area" which will open a new window, the chapter portal.
The chapter portal will contain several simple indicators for that chapter, these would be simple active/inactive indicators to show which of the following are in use:
- IRC related, i.e the chapter maintains an IRC channel (#osm-gb, #osm-ie etc) with a link to a browser based IRC client (keep it simple, don't involve IRC clients at this stage) which would ideally open with the chapter portal as a wrapper around the IRC chat window. This could be changed in preferences to open in a new window, or open client.
- Mailing list, same as IRC above (it would be good if signing up for mailing lists be simplified/streamlined to allow for one / two click sign-up)
- Mapping parties, can link to an external site like event brite, meetups etc or be an integrated part of the portal showing the the next / previous meet ups.
- National page on the wiki
- A chapter forum. Ideally this would be integrated into the chapter portal rather than linking out to the existing osm forums unless they could be configured to allow the portal to act as a wrapper.
- Lastly, stats! Various national stats incorporated into the portal (see neis-one.org, osm-stats.org etc for examples)
I am sure there are a load of improvements that could be made to the above, however it would be a good starting point by which to tie new members into their local community and increase active contributors.
I do not see this as taking over from external sites that have been developed by certain chapters, rather, in those cases, this would act as a "first contact" location for new contributors.
I look forward to discussing this and many other things, with SOTM folks over the next few days