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DWG authority on decisions over territorial disputes

Posted by Kilkenni on 19 November 2018 in English. Last updated on 20 November 2018.

Original post

I believe we are entering dangerous grounds here, setting a very curious precedent, to put it mildly.

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*1. The way I see it, the authority of DWG is focused on vandalism

Nowhere in the description of DWG on OSMF wiki we see that it is entitled to make decisions about territorial disputes. The way I see it, it was and is intended for preventing copywrited uploads, vandalism and edit wars.

As we can see from DWG’s resolutions, the only existing decision concerning disputed territories (or at least the only one published) is about Crimea. That raises questions such as “why making a decision about this at all?” and “why revising it 4 years later?”

*2. DWG is not transparent in what it does

In case of Crimea DWG clearly failed to explain what it expects to achieve and how its decisions are made. To a volunteer-driven community such as OSM transparency in decision-making is an integral part of building trust. Trust is the currency of such communities. Trust brings authority and respect, and both are required to enforce decisions made.

*3. DWG clearly failed at communication

DWG is not nearly a court, but even if we look at it as one for a moment, it cannot boast much public activity to add to its own credibility. As its description states, “Probably the single most common action that we take is to try and help mappers to communicate better with one another.” In case of Crimea, helping communicate is a poor description for what was done.

First of all, one needs to understand that in case of Crimea, two countries are de-facto at war, which is recognized as such by the UN Council despite the lack of official declaration of war. That suggests that two communities within OSM, namely Ukrainian and Russian, are highly polarized, and any action must be taken with extreme caution, lest you alienate your fellow OSM editors. If done wrong, a war of edits is all but guaranteed. Under these conditions DWG didn’t think of anything better than first one-way informing us that they are revising their previous decision on Crimea, and then actually revising it without any proper discussion with the community.

I should note that the policy for such disputes (which we didn’t vote for, but that’s beyond the scope here) states 1) Wide international recognition and 2) generally physical control (the accent is mine) as guidelines for decisions over territorial disputes.

In case of Crimea, one needs to understand that while Russia retains physical control over the peninsula, it is internationally recognized as a part of Ukraine not only by most countries, but by the entire United Nations (and, surprisingly, several treaties Russia itself prevously signed), and Russia is recognized as an occupying power (look up “20 recommendations to the Russian Government, urging it to respect its obligations as an occupying power, uphold human rights for all, and effectively investigate alleged torture, abductions and killings”).

One should also take into consideration that in our time, maps not only serve as a tool of navigation, but also as means to convey information. They are both descriptive and educational, among other things. The effects of this are several. As was mentioned in the policy, while dealing with disputes we have to take into consideration several, potentially conflicting, legislatures. In this case

  1. Russia considers Crimea its territory, and calls to “change” its allegiance are considered a criminal offense in Russia

  2. Ukraine and most of the world consider Crimea Ukrainian territory. Sanctions are imposed on Russia to cease the occupation.

  3. Commercial dealings with or in Crimea are outlawed. Legal dealings in Crimea are outlawed (at least, by Ukrainian laws). The only airlines supporting trips to Crimea are minor Russian ones.

  4. Russia does not, to my knowledge, limit access to Crimea for foreigners. However, according to Ukrainian and international laws, entering Crimea anywhere but in the Ukrainian (continental) posts is outlawed (and, if done by Russian citizens, is now considered a criminal offence)

  5. Seawaters around Crimea (namely, the Sea of Azov) have a questionable status. Russia uses sea resources in violation of international laws, but does not control the sea in its entirety and refers to not-yet-violated treaties with Ukraine most of the time. In short, it is a military stalemate (I say “military” due to constant presence of Ukrainian ships and US naval forces in the region).

All territorial disputes are in some way different. But, to my knowledge, in no case was the dispute “resolved” in OSM via showing exclusively physical control. I’ve mentioned international recognition from the OSMF policy for a reason. Cyprus and Kosovo, Jerusalem and Kurdistan, Syria with its civil war, ever-changing ISIS - all of these regions are problematic border-wise, but all of them are represented on the map with the help of international agreements. Even if we take exclusively Russia and the regions it invaded and currently physically controls, like Transnistria (part of Moldova), South Ossetia (part of Georgia), DPR and LPR (parts of Ukraine), none of them are marked as parts of Russia in OSM. The only difference with Crimea is Russia declared it her property, while in all the other cases it did not. I wonder if this was the thing that predefined DWG’s decision. In its current lack of transparency, wondering is all I can do. But if that’s the case, I believe I should get my position straight.

  • I as a member of the Ukrainian OSM community think DWG is not entitled to make such decisions

  • I as a member of the Ukrainian OSM community do not see this decision as justified

  • I as a member of the Ukrainian OSM community am deeply concerned by this blatant irresponsibility and unprofessionalism shown by DWG, to the point that I question the validity of its existence in its current state

And somehow I think many more people are deeply concerned about this, or will be concerned about this in the nearest future.

We were the one who made this community what it is. Citing one of our writers, we can unmake it as easily. I can’t help but wonder if that is what Data Working Group truly wants.

Location: Lypky, Клов, Pecherskyi district, Kyiv, Ukraine


Comment from imagico on 20 November 2018 at 01:43

To my knowledge at least the following statement is somewhat misleading:

First of all, one needs to understand that in case of Crimea, two countries are de-facto at war

This implies that there is currently an ongoing armed conflict about control of Crimea which to my knowledge there is not. This does not mean there is no armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia but it is quite definitely not currently about the de facto control over Crimea.

Regarding other examples how OSM handles administrative boundary disputes - the Western Sahara case is a relatively prominent example. Other smaller examples exist elsewhere - for example in the South China Sea. Other situations to consider which are probably not on your radar since they have been unchanged for a long time are the Taiwan-China conflict, the dispute over the Kuril Islands and Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands. None of these is 1:1 equivalent with Crimea of course - still they all have similarities in some ways.

And you are definitely wrong with stating that the DWG does not act within its mandate when making such statements. In fact it does in a way do exactly what you want it to do, namely being transparent about their approach to resolving editing conflicts. The statements on Crimea to me seems nothing more than a documentation of the standing principles under which the DWG handles any editing conflicts that might occur in the area.

None the less i think it is good you argue your point here. I am sure the DWG will read it and will take it into account with any future revisions of the statement on Crimea.

Comment from Kilkenni on 20 November 2018 at 02:42

“This does not mean there is no armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia but it is quite definitely not currently about the de facto control over Crimea.”

Yes and no. If you’re interested, I can describe it further in the comments, but that was not the point here. You are right, there are lots of conflicts, they have simularities as well as differences. I may have not phrased it very well. The context is important. What I’ve meant was “when there is a war between disputing factions, you can’t rule in favor of one and expect the other to simply obey”.

“And you are definitely wrong with stating that the DWG does not act within its mandate when making such statements.”

DWG has the mandate we as a community give them to. No more, no less. If it isn’t set in paper (and it isn’t as far as I’m aware), it is what we make it to be. Perhaps by some mistake they have decided otherwise. This delusion can be rectified. If they are not satisfied with a compromise they had, I’d see them deal with an all-out war on their hands. The truce was fragile, but it was enforced on both ends. Until now. What they do here is trying to kill a half-extinguished flame with a bucket of kerosene. I thought their mission was to stop edit wars, not start them.

When I was talking about transparency, what I meant was, we didn’t get to see the discussion or participate in it. I believe in rules and laws, and those are agreed upon, not dispersed from the top down. To get people to follow you, you need to convince them. We don’t know how they work, and it isn’t very convincing. Especially if you consider that this entire proposed change was triggered by a single person whose motives are unclear.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 07:57

This DWG decision makes a huge reputational damage to OpenStreetMap as a whole. Very sad.

Comment from imagico on 20 November 2018 at 10:30

@Kilkenni - you are fundamentally misunderstanding the nature of the statement by the DWG.

While your statement of opinion in the diary entry is ok and as i said i think it is good you make it the attacks in your comment (delusion etc.), which serve no purpose in argument but are clearly just aiming to insult without arguments, are not.

Attempting to discredit the DWG to force them to change their statement into something you see more favorable politically is not an appropriate approach.

Note as you linked to the DWG has sought input on the matter before they formulated the new statement. You did not bring anything into the discussion except the expression of the desire to keep things they way they are. You now after the decision formulate some arguments (which as said is good) - but you criticizing the DWG for not taking those arguments into account before you have made them is somewhat cheap. As said i am sure the DWG will take them into account in future deliberation on the matter but frankly your strongest argument from my perspective is the comparison to other disputed boundary cases and as i explained you so far failed to sufficiently take into account the full spectrum of such cases and picking just a few ones that might seem to support your position is not ultimately very convincing. Of course ultimately the basis of arguments against the on-the-ground rule is rather thin anyway.

So my suggestion to you is to instead of attempting to discredit and insult the DWG to re-evaluate and possibly refine your arguments and potentially your position. This might be hard for you because your political convictions are strong but you are not likely to convince a lot of people with just those convictions.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 10:48

@imagico maybe I missed or misunderstood something on talk mailing list, but when discussion about Crimea started, Frederik wrote:

“the Crimea issue is currently being discussed in DWG.” “This policy is not likely to change any time soon.” And then wrote about tagging.

To me this does not sound like request for comments at all. Not even a possibility to have a say on the matter.

And then decision was made, NOT ANNOUNCED (I only found out about decision via Ukraine OSM twitter and later via this post) and that’s it.

Comment from imagico on 20 November 2018 at 11:00

Kilkenni linked to the Ukrainian forum discussion:

There is a similar discussion in the Russian forum:

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 11:18

Chrm. Sorry, how does these several post threads stand for “request for comments which could influence the decision”? It’s obvious that Ukrainians would stand for their side, Russians - for their side (not surprisingly Russian side was not 100% in favour of this decision). No change in opinions. No surprise statements.

And most importantly: what does it solve and how does it reduce friction?

Comment from Alexandr Zeinalov on 20 November 2018 at 14:32

And then decision was made, NOT ANNOUNCED

Decision announced on Data Working Group page in Wiki and in forum topics

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 14:36

At least some members of OSMF participated in discussion in talk, so they should have announced it there as well, especially after writing, that decision is pending. But probably old problem of communication channels. Well, whatever… New moral low for OSMF/DWG.

Comment from redsteakraw on 20 November 2018 at 15:12

I think the sensible policy would be to change the areas that Russia controls to show Russia controls them. We can play the game of he said she said when it comes to territory but physical control should be the only determining factor when it comes to borders. If countries want the borders back they simply need to take back control of the area if they don’t then simply they should shut up about the border (put up or shut up policy). When it comes to active military zones where boarders are changing constantly, then having a 6 month snapshot policy or conflict area boarder that shows that the area is an active military zone where borders are in flux. I side with the Russians on this because when it comes to borders it has to be ground truth, who controls it, who is enforcing laws, who is collecting the taxes. If you don’t do that then you simply are misrepresenting the area. If I am traveling or living in an area I don’t care about what some random Bureaucrat says some international law is I care about the ground conditions. If you think otherwise then you are impractical and are opening OSM to various different conflicts that simply cannot be resolved. Ground truth is the fundamental principal that resolves disputes and creates the simplest impartial resolution. What are your thoughts?

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 15:55

I doubt calling for additional wars is a sane “solution”.

I wonder how EU/US sanctions about those cooperating with Russia’s annexation of Crimea would work here…

Comment from redsteakraw on 20 November 2018 at 16:09

Tomas Straupis I am not calling for wars but calling for truth. If Ukraine wants territory it has to be able to control it plain and simple. It isn’t cooperating with Russia to state the fact that they control the area, to claim otherwise would be a lie. OSM is supposed to be above all political disputes, if you give in here and lie to everyone about the ground truth then India and Pakistan will bring in their disputes, and so on and so forth. I was not in favor if ISIS but believed they should have been represented on the map out of ground truth. Once you step outside of ground truth for border you open a floodgate of controversies. This may be personal issue but you have to try to be impartial and objective here.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 16:33

It is not that simple. In case of Ukraine-Moscow war there is a very clear aggressor and victim. Position of OSMF shows its position is blind following of money without ANY moral rules. And it IS cooperation (probably unintentional) with Russia on Crimea’s occupation with all consequences, it does not matter how they call it. I hope DWG has consulted LWG, because otherwise it could be much more than huge reputation loss.

Comment from redsteakraw on 20 November 2018 at 18:07

Tomas Straupis it is that simple facts over feelings. I doesn’t matter if Russia is an aggressor or not or the morality of their actions, all that matters is ground truth. OSM should not lie to people about what they should expect on the ground because someone’s feelings may be hurt by reality. And all this FUD and fearmongering to pressure OSM to lie because you know ground truth the one major principle OSM abides by is not inline with the international community is tough luck. OSM isn’t about picking sides of wars and determining who the moral victor is and awarding them borders it is about assessing the on the ground facts and creating a map of the entire world based around that. If OSM strays from that it ceases to be a map but just a database of lies and deceit. Ukraine doesn’t control Crimea, they lost and if they want it back they have to fight for it IRL, then when they win It should go back to them on OSM until then it shouldn’t plain and simple. If I worked in Crimea I would be paying Russian taxes, if I committed a crime I would be charges under Russian Law, if I needed a passport I would need to get a Russian Passport. I am impartial to both Russia’s and Ukrain’s claims I just care about the facts, and OSM’s reputation will be hurt if it misrepresents the truth of the matter on the ground. I want a map to tell me what actually is not what someone happens to feel about an issue at any given moment. That is true in Russia, Ukrain, Pakistan, India, Egypt, Sudan, Israel or any country with borders disputes. Ground Truth is objective, filters out bias and is verifiable and that is far better metric than opinions and endless arguing.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 20 November 2018 at 18:47

And if you go to Crimea without Ukrainian visa not via Ukraine controlled territory then you will not get EU visa and probably get some other legal penalties.

Sorry, but talking about “fighting to get it back” is a nonsense, or chauvinism, or both (or maybe even something worse). Would you tell your kid to go and throw a brick at that boy who took his toy by force?

Data can represent all attitudes without a problem. Then everybody creates a map as they wish.

Comment from redsteakraw on 20 November 2018 at 19:47

All countries are a monopoly of violence within a given land mass. You cheer for your gang others cheer for their gang and they have so much pride because they were pushed out of their mothers kicking and screaming on that given land mass controlled by that given gang. The borders are to show what gang is in control of what territory and in Crimea it is the Russian Gang. Now the other gangs can pout and get all petty and passive aggressive but they don’t have the land. Again I am impartial on this and Crimea as the default standard border should be part of Russia because the Russian gang is controlling the territory. We can play games and play pretend, but facts don’t care about people’s feelings. I can pretend there are no gangs and erase all the borders, that is what I would like in an ideal world but that isn’t the case and I am not going to advocate for what I wish, but for what is. Sanctions are not the same as control and on the ground truth. History is filled with countries fighting back and forth and getting land back or losing land, look at pre-WWI maps compared to after WWII. Bad things happen in war, and some countries lose. Ukraine lost and doesn’t have the manpower to take it back and is resorting to passive aggressive tactics to pretend like it still has the territory. I am American and I can could not care less what the politicians proclaim when it comes to OSM. Ground truth is king, facts over feelings.

Comment from Kilkenni on 20 November 2018 at 20:48

@redsteakraw First of all, “ground truth” offers room for interpretation. I am sure it can be applied to whether a physical object is present in particular place or not. National border is a political construct, not a tree or a building, or an address plate. DWG may claim that they are above politics, but when they decide over a political issue, they are involved in politics whether they understand it or not. OSM reputation and worldwide usage is not directly political, but it is related to politics.

Next, “ground truth” is an inner concept of OSM. As @Tomas Straupis notes, it would not have much weight in court. I have no idea if DWG consulted the legal team about possible consequences. As Tomas mentioned in the OSMF_talks,

“While there are some talks about using OSM instead or alongside of commercial GIS solutions in the context of EU INSPIRE directive, such intentions will be seriously damaged by OSMF/DWG actions”

I previously had no information on that, but this decision greatly harms our work (and my work in particular) in Ukraine for popularizing OSM in electronic government initiative and NGOs. I could hardly explain the previous decision of DWG to the officials as a compromise, and now DWG came and knocked the remaining ground from under me.

“Attempting to discredit the DWG to force them to change their statement into something you see more favorable politically is not an appropriate approach.”

@imagico I cannot discredit them more than they already did. OSM data is © by the OSM community, not DWG. And, as @Tomas mentioned, their method of work via forum topic did not look like an attempt to communicate. They asked about factual data. While this is important to make a correct decision, it is not enough. We were never asked about our arguments, moreover, if you scroll through the Ukrainian topic most of us suggested not touching the previous decision at all (we did NOT ask to change it in our favor), and our “peaceful and mature” voice was simply ignored by the DWG. We are learning from our mistakes. From the comments I see that our “peaceful and mature” position, and toned down arguments on the previous DWG decision were also mistaken for silent acceptance. It is time to change tactics, then.

“as i explained you so far failed to sufficiently take into account the full spectrum of such cases and picking just a few ones that might seem to support your position is not ultimately very convincing” @imagico I see your point, but I did not talk about Africa because I don’t know the situation there.

As I’ve mentioned before, Crimean resolution is the only one published by DWG, and I suppose that it is the only resolution they made about such cases at all. Maybe there are more resolutions deep in OSMF-talks. Which is itself is a highly inefficient method of publishing decisions, and if that is the case, that is part of what I was talking about when I was talking transparency.

“While your statement of opinion in the diary entry is ok and as i said i think it is good you make it the attacks in your comment (delusion etc.), which serve no purpose in argument but are clearly just aiming to insult without arguments, are not.” @imagico Yes, I tend to sound a bit harsh to the taste of some. That’s why I focused on describing arguments and logic in the diary. Comments for me are a more informal ground where you and I (and everyone else, ofc) are allowed to show more emotion and vent their feelings. Won’t deny I am frustrated and disappointed. I am merely a human after all ¯\(°_o)/¯

Comment from redsteakraw on 20 November 2018 at 22:43

@Kilkenni yes borders are not allways apparent but the best we have to go by is what is enforced and agreed to. It there is no dispute follow the convention if there is a dispute, try to be as rational as possible and take into account who is enforcing laws, who is collecting taxes and who has the military presence in the area. Those are areas that can be validated and will give greater credence to the border given a dispute than some pompous government official or NGO member’s opinion.

I know this goes against some prevailing opinions in governments including the one for which I reside but I simply don’t care what a Bureaucrat says it what is enforced. In this case might makes right as in two sides have a dispute but one has the force to back up the claim it simply is that easy. OSM can’t go sucking up to different NGOs and Governments it needs to be objective. OSM can work with NGOs and Governments as long as OSM stays true to it’s values and principles. The whole compromise is the false middle fallacy.

In the case of OSM being attacked by courts and governments, that shows the lack of freedom in those countries. OSM shouldn’t pander to such bad actors that have to use violent threats, if they give in then China will want their way and Pakistan will have their way. The EU isn’t special they shouldn’t magically get extra rights, neither should the US or India or Pakistan. Once you give in to terrorist threats you will get more of them and the whole system based on objectivity crumbles. “Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies” –Ron Paul

Comment from Kilkenni on 21 November 2018 at 00:45


Comparing countries and judicial systems as a whole and terrorists is a bold claim, thank you very much. I highly value freedom, believe me. But if we enter the realm of personal views (as you did), I believe that freedom also means responsibility and understanding consequences.

As a person, I can ignore any laws I wish and deal with it. My life is my own. But when I’m within a structure such as OSM, my actions leave a mark on others, including those outside OSM. I can’t ignore that and keep imagining I’m tinkering with my own little isolated project.

Welcome to our digital era, enjoy your stay :)

Comment from redsteakraw on 21 November 2018 at 01:40

@Kilkenni If a government is threatening violence for non compliance of a map that is a terrorist threat, meant to induce fear to comply with the political will of those issuing the threat. The freedom to state an objective fact and put that in a map should be absolute and not be infringed. Russia controls the land it is observable fact, I am not Russian and I can see that clear as day. I don’t want wishful thinking and political dictates to control OSM but ground truth and a real accurate map. I don’t care if the truth hurts but it is what it is people in Ukraine, people in the EU and people in the USA need to grow up and deal with the reality. As I said put up or shut up, you don’t like that Russia has control take it back or be quite on the matter petty threats against cartographers to dictate what they do and how they show the map is beyond petty. Facts over Feelings and the dictates of whatever funny looking robed people say with inflated worth of their opinions(judges). like in the book 1984 it is Four finders not Five, like you want to push. Facts or Facts and they just can’t be dictated to be true by the courts they actually have to have ground truth.

Comment from Warin61 on 21 November 2018 at 03:35

Map, free of influence? My view; A map should not make ethical judgments. A map should show what is there, not desires or wishes.

However unjustified, illegal, morally incorrect something might be, the map should show the reality.

There are quite a few places in the world that I think should be under different control. I leave their presence in OSM alone, I do see that these are my wishes not reality. I don’t think I have helped. But I note your concerns over the area.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 21 November 2018 at 06:45

Map is a visual way of expressing idea and transferring information. So there is no problem to stay moral and display occupied territories as such. The options are not only A or B. It is also possible to have data representing ALL opinions (as was before DWG decision), then it is possible to create numerous different maps and represent numerous different ideas - that is free expression.

The same is with “truth on the ground” rule. It can mean whatever you want. It could mean whose tanks are on the ground (de facto), it could also mean who legally owns it (de jure). Map can display both. It is your MORAL position.

If a terrorist kidnaps a child, would you then say “ok, truth on the ground - that child is terrorist’s, screw the parents”?

Calling government “terrorist” for threatening legal consequences for helping active aggressor (Ukrainians are still dying DAILY) is strange, because this way you’re calling “terrorist” states all EU countries, USA, Canada, Australia, Japan etc.

Comment from Larry0ua on 21 November 2018 at 09:42

Thanks to Kilkenni and the community for raising the wave of wonder to the DWG resolution.

I would like to tell that it’s quite strange to raise question that was agreed (yes, compromise) years ago and actually just tell - we just thought and let it be how we see it now. No arguments accepted. Yeah let it be a tyranny in our decisions.

If you tell “truth on the ground” I’ll tell you that there is no such thing for administrative borders. There is no one-to-one relation, but there are claims and people who say this or that, official documents that note the areas. This is true that Crimea is controlled by Russia now, and yet it would be a huge mistake to start the thread of disputes about the question that whole countries don’t yet have officially recognized answer you like.

Country administrative borders do not change until country tells it is making the change because it is its administrative border. Russia government did change to its border, and it was done in 2014 in their official documents, and it was reflected in administrative relation in OSM. Ukraine did not do that change, and nothing changed from that time.

Highly disappointed with this DWG decision. That is not how already settled up arguments should be re-resolved.

Comment from redsteakraw on 21 November 2018 at 13:52

I am sorry if I got a bit heated on what @Larry0ua brought up about ground truth for administrative borders, and yes there is some truth to that, as the exact demarcation is a bit tricky. This is what the DWG needs to work out niggling over the little minutia. That being said administration is evidence of ownership and is far more concrete than merely a competing claim with no force to back it up. Administration is based on force and you can prove that a given area is controlled by a given group. I personally have no problem with mapping claimed areas, conflict areas where administration and borders are in flux and other ways of adding detail but the default area should reflect ground truth. If others want to make fantasy maps with Crimea as part of Ukraine go for it, but the default borders should reflect actual on the ground administration in all cases

Comment from Larry0ua on 21 November 2018 at 14:47

There are a lot of things around us that cannot be mapped as they are on the ground, so we have to be creative and do workarounds. How can we reflect half-imaginary things like public transport route with a timetable on a map when de-facto buses just appearing here and there by some rule? Do we write scripts that open and close shops according to their opening hours? Yes, I’m exaggerating. Wikipedia says that country border is a boundary of political entity and it’s not always about force, control, sometimes it is imaginary and only supported by documents. Sometimes we can see it as a fence, border control and militia. Sometimes it is completely invisible. Still both can be mapped.

@redsteakraw, I see your point but cannot agree with what you write here. Brute force was a powerful tool in the past, but now majority of civilization thinks that there are more effective ways of making things right.

Comment from redsteakraw on 21 November 2018 at 16:39

@Larry0ua what is your definition, should be bring back Silesia to OSM, maybe show the Native American tribes instead of the USA? How rediculous do you want this to get, without a clear-cut definition of the general area IE administration and other governing factors how else do you choose the borders. Do we get pixie dust and say I do believe and magically the borders change. All governments are based on force all of them claim a monopoly of legitimate violence in said geographic regions Now when one takes the other’s land and they are the ones administering it and it isn’t being challenged then it is clearly theirs now. No amount of wishing will change that, now you can wage a Guerilla war and may have a chance of getting it back but that is left to be seen and that is not a problem for mappers. Until the administration and occupation of the Russians comes to an end it should be in the Russian’s borders. Just look at Hawaii that is in the US borders and that was taken over dubious tactics anybody can bring up an argument but simply put OSM isn’t the UN it isn’t some NGO and it isn’t a pulpit to try to push lies about the ground truth for political posturing, you state what is not what you like. To do otherwise would not only violate ground truth but also mapping for the renderer both of which are some of the highest taboos in OSM.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 21 November 2018 at 16:45

No point of going to ridiculous examples. Only recognised countries. They all have very concrete officially claimed boundaries. So nothing claimed by any nationalist coocoos. And there is a technical simple solution to that. Problem is that there us no WILL to do anything. Because for those in power to do the decision it does not matter.

Comment from redsteakraw on 21 November 2018 at 17:32

@Tomas Straupis the only ones in power in the area are the Russians, a “recognized” country and major power in the region. They took it proclaimed it as theirs and have maintained it. By your standard the Russians have it.

Comment from Kilkenni on 21 November 2018 at 19:20

@redsteakraw If rules are about physical force, consider this. OSM consists of separate people. OSMF (and DWG) has no physical power over OSM contributors, but contibutors DO have power over OSMF and DWG. I have already seen Vladimir Agafonkin (author of Leaflet) suggesting reforming DWG entirely as a structure that discredited itself completely by this decision. Believe me, he is not alone in his thoughts.

Controlling any structure (including OSM or a national state), governing it, is based on two things, legality (laws or rules) and legitimacy (if others are accepting your decisions). If you are illegal, you can’t make decisions. If you are illegitimate, people won’t follow your decisions. This is why discussing things in public and reaching some kind of common ground in OSM is so important.

As @Tomas Straupis outlined, there are several ways to present Crimea on the map. I supported previous decision of 2014 because it was generally accepted as a compromise by both Russian and Ukrainian communities. It wasn’t ideal but it had public support, and public support meant most people were ready to follow it. Current decision provokes a conflict, and it is in direct contradiction to DWG’s purpose to stop conflicts. I’ve seen entire communities ruined by similar conflicts, and that is not what I want for OSM.

Comment from Mourner on 21 November 2018 at 20:17

Hey Kilkenni, just wanted to say thank you. I really appreciate your thorough, constructive analysis, amazing written English, and patience to calmly reply to offensive comments. You’re my hero! I wish I could be as wise and considerate — so far only severe obscenities come up in my mind when trying to comment on this disaster.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 21 November 2018 at 23:04

I had a discussion with NATO representatives. Apparently this issue is NOT a simple technical issue inside of OSM only. More information will be coming shortly. This looks like a standard Soviet style propaganda campaign to divide representatives of free world - people of free world are fighting among themselves for the bonus of aggressor - Russia.

Comment from Kilkenni on 21 November 2018 at 23:33

@Mourner Aww shucks. May I print this comment and hang it on the wall?

Seriously tho, I’m not alone, and that immensely helps. People working together transform into something utterly awesome :)

Comment from int_ua on 22 November 2018 at 17:21

As a workaround in Leaflet I’ve added a layer with Ukraine boundaries long ago (will add URL by request).

Why are there not a word about this in latest Minutes? Was there really a decision about this? Who made it? Why is it a second ever activity of forum user for DWG (allegedly)? Is it really a DWG representative?

Comment from PlaneMad on 25 November 2018 at 19:38

As someone from India where we face similar issues of disputed territories, I can only empathize with the Ukraine community over this decision. The boundaries of a country represent the mental model of the nation we live in and is strongly linked to our national identity. It is inevitable that there will be a deeply emotional response to such a change from the countries concerned and Its important that those from other countries understand how this is not merely a change on an online map.

The decision that the DWG took is not at all surprising - to remain neutral and objective with established principles regarding such disputed boundaries. The result is that Ukraine joins a list of countries where the de facto world map is not aligned to the world view of its people.

There never is going to be a single map of a world view that will satisfy everyone, and affected communities need to figure out how to work with that reality, while OSMF needs to figure out how to technically support such communities better. For India, we have a customized OSM slippy map code which alters the boundary of Kashmir as per official requirements. The boundaries shown on the OSM website are illegal here and often leads to very negative response to the project. The situation in Ukraine will be very similar now.

If the OSM website automatically switched disputed borders based on viewers country and various data tooling supported working with disputed boundaries easily, this would be much less of an issue than it is.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 25 November 2018 at 19:47

Thank you PlaneMad, your comment is VERY important! Current situation with OpenStreetMap and a separate thing - OSMF - look disturbingly similar to Orwell’s stories.

Comment from Eugene Krevenets on 25 November 2018 at 20:46

I just want to tell thank you @Kilkenni and I hope OSM community would find a way to solve this problem and revert DWG decision. Open Street Map should be open, otherwise, there is no sense to such biased services

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