My thoughts on recent actions of DWG

Posted by Kilkenni on 23 November 2018 in English (English).

I should stress that this is currently my personal opinion and my personal view and not the opinion of OSM-UA.

In the recent days we’ve seen a number of interesting notions. First of all, the one by Frederik Ramm. Yes, that Frederik Ramm.

I think I don’t quite understand some ideas of Herr Ramm.

Herr Ramm seems to be misunderstanding the nature of OSM. OSM is not a business like Geofabrik. It is not enough to make a resolution to see it working. You have no army, no corporate security, no riot police. No way to one-way enforce a decision. You need (surprise!) to convince people.

First of all, “there was really not any doubt” is not an argument. It is a way to avoid presenting documents. Simply put, it is sophistic.

Next, the argument of “not silently” is simply false. You (and I mean DWG here) never posted the transcript of your discussion, neither did you make a statistic check on community to realistically evaluate if your decision is implementable. You were not elected by the community. We have no reason to trust your decision except your reputation, and reputation is a fragile thing.

Next, I do agree that “political map” is not the intention of OSM. But OSMF needs to take some political decisions into account, or risk being subjected to national and international laws. Putting disclaimers in your resolution doesn’t make it any better. We are not “misinterpreting”. We are extrapolating the effects of this decision, and evaluate your actions, not your words, just as one old dusty book teaches us. Russian propaganda (namely,, the official state press of Russian Federation) already uses your decision and both you and I have absolutely no way to stop them.

Maybe I’m too rough here, but don’t expect me to clear your mess. Accept responsibility for your actions. I’m used to hear that it is your recurring notion that the fate of OpenStreetMap should be decided by common volunteers, not corporations. Maybe one day a certain founder of Geofabrik will take this belief to heart.

Next one is Andy Townsend. Yes, that Andy Townsend. More accurately, his interpretation of what “international recognition” means.

I must say, >I think that it is internationally recognised that Russia currently has control of Crimea

is a most peculiar way to interpret >Currently, we record one set that, in OpenStreetMap contributor opinion, is most widely internationally recognised and best meets realities on the ground, generally meaning physical control

from your policy. I am genuinely astonished with this new revolutionary vision of the concept of international recognition. My congratulations on this exemplary victory over yourself. I’m a fan of Eric Arthur Blair so I can properly appreciate it.

PS. I believe a fact that three members of DWG are also members of the OSMF Board which currently considers our appeal over DWG’s resolution deserves a separate mention. I genuinely want to be pleasantly surprised, but something tells me it is not meant to happen.

PPS. Working closely with the community to develop uniform rules for representing territorial disputes and ground control (occupation status, annexation status etc) would be a much more constructive decision of DWG’s part.

Comment from Larry0ua on 24 November 2018 at 08:37


Comment from kresp0 on 24 November 2018 at 11:24

I think Frederik explained it well on his email, and the Disputed Territories policy is very clear as well.

Personally, as a OSM user, I want a database that represent reality and not anything else. So for me it is also obvious that “Crimea needs to be mapped as part of Russia”, because of the “on the ground” principle and the fact that it is common knowledge that Crimea is controlled by Russia. So in my opinion, this decision does not need to be backed up by any document or transcripts, as they are just applying the Disputed Territories policy.

Kilkenni: I agree that we should develop uniform rules for representing territorial disputes if they are not in place (idk about that). I also hope that you can understand that we should map the reality on the ground, following the Disputed Territories policy.

Best regards,

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 24 November 2018 at 11:48

OSMF mission is to help mappers, not control and command them. So OSMF should make sure that MORE mappers/users are happy which is not the case in this place as was explained by data users.

OSMF decision is based on OSMF self invented rule of “borders as on the ground” (OSMF should not have had the right to invent such rules by themselves in the first place). This rule is strange because from basic knowledge in Physics and/or Philosophy we know that immaterial things are not observable by physical means, borders as all other immaterial things live in official documents so those should be used to fetch geometry and attributes.

Disputed Territories policy is also NOT clear. It states that decision is made by “wide international support” and “control on the ground”. So in case of Crimea this does not work, it becomes “control of the ground IRRESPECTIVE OF WIDE INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT”. Not that wide international support also represents WIDE INTERNATIONAL NEED AND REQUIREMENT as it dictates international position as well as legal requirements not to knowingly misrepresent the situation (not spread fake information) which in this situation OSMF is doing - misrepresenting Crimea as being part of Russia when in almost all countries it is recognised that de jure situation is different.

Leaving Crimea as part of Ukraine has no technical problems so it could have continued like that. This case has exposed the lack of transparency, lack of accountability, wish for unconditional control on behalf of OSMF which leaves us with some disturbing questions regarding the role and future of OSMF.

Comment from Zverik on 24 November 2018 at 12:06

  1. Your post would hold much better if you abstained from finger-pointing.
  2. It is not internationally recognized that Russia has rights to control Crimea. But I don’t think there are any countries that would deny that Russia has control over the territory. Otherwise there would be no sanctions towards Russia.

Comment from Tomas Straupis on 24 November 2018 at 12:35

  1. I’m pointing out that OSMF has done more than it is allowed to do and did not comply with it’s own rules of existence or raison d’être.
  2. I (or anybody else) have never denied the fact that de facto Russia controls Crimea for the time being. I’m saying that this “control” principle is OSMF’s invention, not OpenStreetMap invention.
  3. Reality check: Google, Microsoft etc. with endless pockets and armies of lawyers have adapted maps to international/local law. Apparently it was a waste of money, they could have simply written a sentence somewhere on the terms and conditions page: “we depict position on the ground” and that would have been it. Or not…?

Comment from Kilkenni on 24 November 2018 at 14:32

@Zverik I might agree with you on “finger-pointing”, but that makes the situation even worse. If we don’t identify who is personally responsible then the whole structure (DWG and OSMF as the body that formed them) will be held responsible.

Andy Townsend already writes that his actions represent the stance of DWG as a whole. That means that DWG as a whole is exposed for blows. As most of DWG members did not express their stance on the matter in public, I give them the benefit of the doubt. We should not accuse people without giving them the right to defend themselves and clear the situation.

The damage is done, but I still believe this whole mess can be fixed internally. The information already leaks into the press, I’ve seen several publications already. The window of opportunity will not always be there.

DWG and OSMF need to understand that from the moment they took their positions they are public persons not unlike politicians. Their actions will be scrutinized whether they want it or not. That comes with the title, and that is what I mean when I mention responsibility.

Comment from dudka on 24 November 2018 at 14:37

According to DWG minitues “DWG aims to implement community consensus”. Does anyone see their attempts to find consensus? They’ve just ruined the existing consensus. The previous DWG resolution was accepted by the majority of Ukrainian and Russian mappers and DWG didn’t need to trigger some changes and start edit war.

Andy’s membership in DWG should definetly be reviewed since he is the most agressive among DWG members and using his permissions to block those who have opposite opinion.

Comment from Kilkenni on 24 November 2018 at 22:12

Yep, Andy Townsend continues to ban Ukrainian OSM contributors who do not agree with DWG’s decision. Nice work “helping mappers to communicate better”, Andy. Do you really think you can block all of us? Maybe it is time to question not just the decision, but your presence in DWG as well.

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