Local Chapter Congress Notes from SotM 2016

Posted by mikelmaron on 17 April 2017 in English (English)

The sun shined on the Local Chapter Congress at State of the Map 2016. It was fantastic to hear from so many people from so many communities.

Yes, sorry, it is long overdue to share -- shortly after SotM, I took leave after the birth of my son, and only finding space to pick this up with the upcoming Board Face to Face.

There were many solid ideas, and of course further discussion. Would love to find several avenues to explore these. I think one could be the Advisory Board, which will include representatives from official Local Chapters. For "incubating" local chapters, maybe we discuss ideas on the local chapters mailing list. For communication ideas, we should figure out the right place...

Dorothea took thorough notes from the session. Posting the summary below.

Organising local communities

How OSMF Could Help?

  • Add new "tier" to Local Chapters for semi-formal groups not ready to register as a formal organization or full Local Chapter status
  • Subsidize some costs of groups in poor communities, including support for accessing internet and computer equipment

For OSMF membership

  • 2-level tier for membership fee, to include mappers from poorer countries
  • Vetting of members at lower membership fee by local chapter

Other fundraising options for local groups:

  • Ask local companies
  • Mapathons at places (like bars / coffee shops) which donate percentage of the proceeds
  • On membership signup, option to donate additional amounts


  • Restart equipment (GPS / phones / laser distance devices) lending program, either from OSMF, or between local communities
  • Legal questions on OSM activities in places like Pakistan
  • Groups as part of larger organisations
  • Organize national level donation collection through non profit associations for tax benefit, then donate to support OSMF

Improving communications

  • Central OSM-supplied platform for social aspects, there is fragmentation between communication tools (lists, some people find IRC/forum unappealing, FB, etc) ** The platform should also be helpful for organisation purposes (i.e easy past message retrieval)
  • Creation of map that has local groups with contact details on it
  • Tickbox on sign-up page to accept push-notifications
  • Short video (maybe localised) before the first tutorial in iD, that explains what OSM is all about
  • Identifying & contacting new mappers as they join -- Belgium and Switzerland have models
  • Build tool to contact new mappers. The welcoming message will, ideally ** be personalised ** push people to come into contact with local groups ** let them know options available ** mention local upcoming events ** also, it will be followed-up after a few weeks/month (people have limited time)

  • Possible revitalisation of Welcome WG

  • Friendly reminders to decrease duration of mapping inactivity

Additional suggestions

  • Gamification
  • Drop-down list with current news (national/regional) on

Comment from Nakaner on 17 April 2017 at 15:38

mikelmaron wrote:

Creation of map that has local groups with contact details on it

You can reuse the German Usergroups Bot and its map.

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Comment from RobJN on 17 April 2017 at 19:37

Great write-up. Let's get this on the OSM blog. :-)

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Comment from Glassman on 18 April 2017 at 00:11

Mikel, You seem to have two major threads in your diary entry. The first is Local Chapters and the Second is Communications. Not to belittle Local Chapters, but it's the communications aspect that interests me.

Push notifications is a dream for many of us. It's likely that only a small fraction occasional mappers belong to one or more of our current communications tools. Push notifications isn't going to solve our communications problem, but it will help, so long as we can prevent spam.

Two other communications avenues that need exploring is more press and conducting user surveys.

Local Chapters would ideally take the lead to get articles published. Currently most articles on OSM are connected with either Missing Maps or HOT. I've had new mappers sign up for humanitarian events that believe OSM isn't used for developed countries. Getting press isn't easy. I worked with a consultant for the 2016 SotM US trying to crack the barrier. I suspect we need to look at other approaches to find what interest the press.

Surveys could be used to help understand how people find OSM to help us in our "marketing" and learn their preferred method of communications.

Lastly, as someone who "borrowed" the Belgium welcome message and have been using it for the last couple of years - I agree that we need to do more to welcome new mappers.


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Comment from mikelmaron on 18 April 2017 at 12:30


You seem to have two major threads in your diary entry.

Yup -- that's what came up during the Congress. Better communication is a top topic for Local Chapters.

Push notifications is a dream for many of us.

It's getting close. This PR would implement. May need some policy work. Showing support for the PR could help get this moving :)

suspect we need to look at other approaches to find what interest the press.

Would love to figure out strategies here. Possibly a starting point is to start generating good stories on our diaries / blogs, then picking out the best ones to pitch. What are good stories coming out of OSM US?

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Comment from ImreSamu on 20 April 2017 at 01:16

How OSMF Could Help?


OSM Stickers

Is it possible to order/receive OSM Stickers for small osm communities?
( Like: )

For Example ( Hungary )

  • We don't have enough capacity to design/organize our stickers
  • Probably we can pay the "Cost price" of stickers, and if we order together maybe it will be more economical.
  • For Our community / for Meetups/ Local IT conferences / Mapping parties:
    • we need ~ 500-1000 stickers/year,
  • The ideal sticker will be language neutral ( just the "OpenStreetMap" text ) or a minimal English text.
  • In the SOTM/FOSS4G/* conference we can pick up our country package ( so sometimes no need a postal cost )
  • If other OSM related companies want to support us - they can add their Stickers for our ( country ) package ( like Mapillary,, Mapbox, Telenav, ... )
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Comment from mmd on 23 April 2017 at 16:57

Push notifications is a dream for many of us.

It's getting close. This PR would implement. May need some policy work. Showing support for the PR could help get this moving :)

The current implementation as it stands really has privacy issues, as it would exhibit your personal email address if a third party requests it and you approve it. This won't go away with some "policy work".

I hope you realize that some people in the German forum found this really annoying and would immediately quit their OSM engagement! It breaks with a years long tradition of keeping the email address OSM internal, as mentioned in the privacy policy. For sure this will hit some people by surprise as they never expected something like this happen. If you're a long term mailing list user, you might wonder, wtf? - still people are different and have different opinions and expectations on this topic.

Also, if you don't authorize an App up-front, there will be no way to send a push notification at all. A user really needs to explicitly consent to it in the first place. Just randomly selecting some area and sending messages to all mappers will NOT work with this pull request on its own.

There are some ideas to mitigate the situation and have an approach that could work out for everyone without compromising privacy, and still offering the benefits of push notifications via email (or possibly some API). I'm not going to repeat that here, see the Github pull request for details.

Thanks for your time!

Have fun :)

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Comment from RobJN on 23 April 2017 at 21:42

I don't get what the fuss is here. The OSM authorisation page is so clean it shows you exactly what will get shared and has simple tick boxes to exclude parts you don't want to share.

As I understand it, this enables an option that allows users to easily share their email address with third parties who ask for it (easily=via the OSM auth page).

Or am I missing something?

Returning to the original issue ("Tickbox on sign-up page to accept push-notifications"), I'm not sure the PR solves this. I would prefer an option at new-user sign-up stage to select to subscribe to newsletters from the OSMF and from your local community. If you opt to get newsletters from your local community then you are agreeing to your email address being passed on to the Local Chapter that represents you region.

I find it disappointing that OSMF haven't implemented this as it could really help to grow the sense of local community in OSM. Instead we have some local chapters tracking the changelogs for signs of new users and then sending them messages through the OSM messaging system. Feels like a waste of everyone's time - a simple tickbox allows those who want to hear from their local community to enable this.

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Comment from Glassman on 23 April 2017 at 21:56

@mmd My goal is enabling push notifications. If email oauth permission gives that capability then I'm in favor of seeing it implemented. If too many people opt out because they don't want to give their email address then oauth permissions may not be the right means to an end.

@RobJN comments express my thoughts on push notification. If this is the wrong PR, then we need to come up with a better PR.

mmd - apparently you wouldn't be in my target audience in anyway. It doesn't appear your user_name has edited in OSM.

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