OpenStreetMap

King X November pub + Paddington tonight!

Posted by Harry Wood on 10 January 2013 in English (English)

Tonight we're going to the pub! It's been a while. We need an OSMLondon celebration of Christmas, New Year, and one million users! So join us at the Monkey Puzzle in Paddington from 7pm

We had an awesome hack weekend in December, but last time we had a regular pub session was way back in November. We went to the Parcel Yard pub in the new bit of Kings Cross station.

In the pub we talked about ...random topics which I wrote down at the time. Does anyone remember what we said about "floods in the tube", and "airoplane radars"? And at the end of the list I have written down "weight loss solutions". I don't remember that converation at all. Maybe we came up with some brilliant medical breakthrough, but I'm afraid I didn't write down any more detail. The cure for obesity is lost forever.

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We talked about OpenMeatMap.org, a map locating fine meat produce from butchers, farmers markets, and other meat outlets. ...which sadly doesn't exist. But it should!

We talked about MapRoulette.org and fixing up TIGER mess. (Oh that's cool. I've just noticed my little tutorial video is linked from there directly now)

Someone (don't remember who) was browsing the OpenStreetMap.org front page map (newly converted to leaflet.js) using his android phone and we observed a bizarre squidgy dragging effect which has never been seen before or since. You have to see this little video to see the squidgyness. It was a pretty cool bug in a "you couldn't do that if you tried" kind of way.

We also had a fairly extensive discussion covering some interesting more serious topics:

Back in November the French cadastre import of building data (Import semi-automatique des bâtiments) was causing some agro because the Data Working Group had blocked some french users who were bulk importing without following the guidelines. Many French users are taking part in the 'semi-automatic' merging in of building data. Some users took this too far, importing too many objects too quickly. In these cases it was a bulk import, but without following bulk import rules (in particular not creating a separate user account for this). Blocking users is always liable to trigger some agro, but somehow this escalated into a French community versus DWG battle on the mailing lists. Matt (of the DWG) was giving his perspective on this in the pub. Here's a thing I noticed from a wiki perspective (I always like the wiki perspective) Looking into the debate after it flared up, I was surprised to find that the french language wiki page about this import carried no cautionary information, about it not being intended as a bulk import, and about the problems of bulk imports. The warning on there now was only added when I pointed this out. Some users will get the wrong idea if you don't give guidelines and just say "hey everyone join in with uploading this data".

We moved on to talking about the OpenStreetMap foundation, and particularly the Management Team. The MT group lost steam a bit. We discussed reasons for that. MT meetings have always been voice calls, rather than IRC meetings, which some people prefer, but voice calls can feel like very hard work sometimes. More fundamentally it was felt MT doesn't have enough authority (or doesn't feel itself to have enough authority) to make decisions, and isn't properly looped into a the chain of command. Personally I think the management team would work better along with many other working groups, if we could generally make these roles and responsibilities more desirable coveted positions somehow. We, at the OSMF, need to figure out better ways of recruiting people from the wider project. We discussed this because Matt (OSMF board) was organising a re-boot of the management team.

I realised we were giving Matt a bit of a grilling in his capacity as board and DWG member, during these conversations which were unusually serious for the pub. But we made it up to him by going for his favourite... burritos!.

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See the majestic timetable of Kings Cross station in the background there. No? Well ok. But you have to admit the roof is quite nice here:

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The Parcel Yard pub is kind of hidden at the back of this new bit of King Cross station, and has none of the skankiness you often get in station pubs, perhaps because the beers are a bit pricey. Quite nice pub though. And good proximity to burritos. Perhaps we'll go again.

But not tonight. Tonight we're going to Paddington, and no the station this time. We'll be in the good old Monkey Puzzle. All the details on the wiki. If all of this serious and not so serious OpenStreetMaptastic conversation sounds like your kind of thing, or you're just curious about the basic idea of OpenStreetMap... if you are one of the 1 million, or even if you're not... come join us in the pub!

Location: Paddington, City of Westminster, London, Greater London, England, United Kingdom

Comment from Pieren on 10 January 2013 at 12:41

I was surprised to find that the french language wiki page about this import carried no cautionary information

You should review your French language skills, Harry. The header of this wiki page begins with a big warning/cautious paragraph since a while. And once the DWG was enforcing a guideline requirement which was never agreed by the community, they had to expect some hostility in return.

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Comment from Harry Wood on 10 January 2013 at 15:57

Ah you're right. There has been a some sort of warning on that page since mid 2011. When I discussed with you before I was asking for that to be made more prominent, and to link to further reading. At that time I was also pointing out that the general top level page about the Cadastre carried no warning.

In any case, the wiki's only one thing. Overall the french community failed to communicate properly to all of their users, that they should not do clumsy bulk importing, and clearly in french OSM forums their hasn't been enough discussion about the importance of this. If the french community buy into those the ideas, then why do we see the so much vitriol directed at the DWG? The french community FAILED to communicate these messages correctly and then to add insult to injury they have FAILED to support the enforcement of common sense rules. Instead of recognising that certain people had obviously been bulking importing (behaving badly), they somehow found it more natural to jump to the conclusion that DWG are evil. I find that very disappointing. The DWG have behaved in a very reasonable manner in my opinion. You clearly disagree, but it's very disappointing that seemingly nobody speaking french has been willing to stick up for them.

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Comment from Pieren on 10 January 2013 at 16:50

Well.. The 100+ messages in the ML showed that the enforced 'common sense rules' was not that common. And it's not including the 200+ messages exchanged on the French lists and forums. A rule is easy to impose when you can provide valuable arguments. But the DWG and others FAILED to explain that the separate account was the only solution for (limited) bulk imports (excepted that in was half admitted between the lines that it was mainly an additional barrier against imports in general).

But we will not rewrite the story here. It will remain the biggest failure to understand each other, between the French community (as a whole) and some key administrators of OSM. One message I retained from that time is from Alan Millar: "If you are outside France, shut up and let them do their thing."

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