OpenStreetMap is one of the few open source initiatives that operates without a formal Code of Conduct. Many [1] of the large open source projects have adopted a Code of Conduct for their mailing lists, forums and conferences.

Why would we want to have a formal standard for contact? OpenStreetMap longevity depends on our being able to attract and keep new mappers, developers and third party users. Good behavior means more people feel comfortable engaging in community discussions. Bad conduct not only drives people away but can lead to giving OSM a bad reputation. Our reputation is key to raising funds needed for operation and growth. The OSMF Board has a fiduciary responsibility to protect our project. Adopting and enforcing a Code of Conduct is a step in that direction.

[1] Some examples of CoC guidelines are:

  • Be respectful
  • Be friendly and patient
  • Be civil and considerate
  • Be collaborative
  • Assume good intentions.
  • Respect time and attention
  • Disclose potential conflicts
  • Take responsibility for our words and our actions
  • Be welcoming
  • Be careful in the words that you choose
    • Discriminatory remarks based on stereotypes
    • Violent threats or language directed against another person.
    • Discriminatory jokes and language.
    • Posting sexually explicit or violent material.
    • Posting (or threatening to post) other people’s personally identifying information (“doxing”).
    • Personal insults, especially those using racist or sexist terms.
    • Unwelcome sexual attention.
    • Repeated harassment of others. In general, if someone asks you to stop, then stop.
    • Deliberately spreading FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt)
    • Advocating for, or encouraging, any of the above behavior.

Adopting a CoC is just one step in the process. If we only post the CoC when members sign up on a mailing list or attend our conferences, nothing will change. Instead the Board should:

  • Define the scope of the policy: may include mailing lists, conferences and other in person gatherings, forums, comments on changesets, IRC,
  • Decide who is responsible for responding to reports of abuse
  • Determine consequences for violating the CoC
  • Provide appropriate avenues to report abuse
  • Periodically remind members of our CoC

[1] Example of Codes of Conduct by Open Source organizations:


I want to thank everyone that contributed to this document. Blake Giradot, Martijn van Exel, Andrew Johnson, Kate Chapman, Ian Dees, Dale Kunce, and Joost Schouppe. If I missed anyone, I apologize in advance.

Location: Mount Vernon, Skagit County, Washington, 98273, United States


Comment from imagico on 2 December 2017 at 20:19

For clarification: It seems the people listed have not actually actively contributed to the document shown in the sense they endorse it. It would be great if you could specifically clarify that.

Comment from Glassman on 2 December 2017 at 20:37

@imagico - Some of the people I mentioned did make edits to the document others help by providing insights. I didn’t ask specifically if they endorse the proposal. I’ll leave it to them to say.

Comment from imagico on 2 December 2017 at 20:45

Ok - since we have the board elections these days and you list one of the candidates it is important to be as clear as possible not to lead to misunderstandings among the voters. Thanks.

Comment from mmd on 3 December 2017 at 11:07

FYI: There’s some follow up discussion to this blog post on the osmf-talk mailing list:

As a CoC would for sure affect all mailing lists, forums, etc. at some point in time, please consider moving this discussion to a place where everyone can participate, not only OSMF members. The talk mailing list might be a good start. Thank you.

Comment from joost schouppe on 3 December 2017 at 19:39

There is too much going on in OSMF right now for me to form a definite opinion about whether or not we need a CoC, let alone whether or not to endorse this proposal.

Comment from escada on 4 December 2017 at 14:42

I wonder how such a CoC would work on e.g. a Telegram group with the name “OpenStreetMap”. How can you enforce a CoC on a platform that is not under control of the OSMF, but is clearly related to the OSM community ?

Do you see this as a problem ?

Comment from romanh on 15 December 2017 at 09:02

To behave as it is written in the example should be the target. – But a guideline (as written in the example) is NOT suitable for a rule (law) which could be enforced, because they are to general, and not objective judgeable. – A “enforcement board” would have the power to punish/exclude people who are not in-line with their targets (maybe you would consider my writing as “not collaborative”, “stereotype”, “violent against the original writer” or “ Deliberately spreading FUD” ?) The risk of discrimination and censorship is much greater as the use of such a “soft-defined”, but “hard-enforced” CoC. I think there are three possible ways: - No CoC, because there is no need - Write it so soft-defined, and limit the punishment to a feedback to the person. - Write it clear (example no swear-words in posts) and include rights (move to a higher authority) for the accused person to reduce the risk of censorship or politically based punishment.

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