OpenStreetMap

English below

Le dernier billet de blog [1] de Christoph Hormann (Imagico) sur l’OSMF a été mentionné dans le #531 de WeeklyOSM, mais n’a pas fait l’objet d’un fil de discussion sur la liste talk de l’OSMF. A deux mois de la fin de l’année et d’une nouvelle élection au board, il mérite pourtant d’être partagé et commenté.

Personnellement, je partage les mêmes inquiétude et déception, ainsi qu’un certain découragement. J’avais globalement la même perception, avec des nuances, quant aux différentes candidatures déposées lors de la dernière élection. Comment pouvait-on imaginer qu’un changement de 3 personnes sur un total de 7 produirait des mutations aussi radicales dans la conduite du board, ce que les manifestos des uns et des autres ne laissaient alors pas percevoir ?

L’instauration de réunions non publiques, qui n’avaient plus cours depuis 2016, est en effet regrettable et inattendue, alors que le seul candidat à vouloir leur retour au moment des élections n’a pas été élu, et qu’au même moment sortaient du board deux personnes qui auraient pu vouloir y mettre fin. Le respect de la transparence des échanges et décisions est un point qui ne devrait pas être galvaudé pour des avantages supposés en termes d’efficacité ou de facilité de parole. En dehors de la perte de capacité de contrôle des membres sur les décisions prises par le bureau de la Fondation, c’est également le meilleur moyen de démotiver celles et ceux qui désirent suivre, commenter et accompagner activement ses travaux. J’ajouterai pour ma part la tendance nouvelle à créer des comités restreints dont les membres sont choisis directement par le board (ou dont la sélection passe par les fourches caudines de l’un des membres du board), ce qui diffère notablement de la pratique des Groupes de travail ouverts à tout membre voulant s’y investir. Pourtant, même dans ce cadre de ces comités désignés, le board peut passer outre les décisions, pour preuve la sélection du comité restreint des Microgrants, dont certains candidats recalés ont finalement été retenus, ce qui n’a pas manqué d’étonner.

On touche ici à une autre tendance forte et inquiétante du board 2020 de l’OSMF : celle de s’affranchir des cadres construits par le passé, l’absence de volonté de mettre en place de nouveaux cadres argumentés et bien définis et le refus de réfléchir aux implications d’actions potentiellement lourdes de conséquences en termes de gouvernance ou de gestion financière. En l’absence d’historique visible dans le wiki (ce qui serait évidemment intéressant là encore en termes de transparence), difficile de dire quand exactement a été ajoutée la phrase : « Is responsible for allocating $$ to diverse worthwhile software projects with grants and microgrants. » dans la page Mission statement [2]. En dehors du fait qu’il soit assez curieux de faire mention de dollars états-uniens alors que, sauf erreur, les fonds de l’OSMF ne sont pas détenus dans cette monnaie mais en EUR et GBP, cette phrase apparaît particulièrement vague quant au périmètre de ces financements et laisse place à toutes les interprétations, alors que de nombreux échanges entre des membres de l’OSMF ont eu lieu sur la définition de différents périmètres, notamment autour d’un autre billet de blog publié également par Imagico [3]. Sauf erreur, un seul membre du board y intervient, mais l’échange est particulièrement éclairant : Rory McCann résume l’approche du board en matière de décision de financement à ce qui « sounds good » et il ne parvient pas à comprendre les attentes résumées par Imagico dans la phrase « document and publish the key parts of the decision making process, in particular risk analysis that has been made on social implications and economic risk ». Dans un fil de discussion de la liste talk [4], Rory fait un parallèle entre ce mode de décision et le tagging OSM, comme s’il était possible de comparer des choix sémantiques flexibles, réversibles et sans conséquence aucune sur le futur du projet OSM avec des décisions, notamment financières, qui elles ne le sont pas.

Cette propension à (beaucoup) financer représente une autre tendance du board 2020 de l’OSM. C’est la plus spectaculaire et visible de l’extérieur. Un seul de ces financements relève du périmètre d’action de la Fondation : la fonction de Senior site reliability engineer pour assurer la continuité de service des serveurs OSM, qui fait partie des Mission statements de la Fondation, est difficilement contournable si les volontaires qui l’assuraient jusqu’ici ne souhaitent ou ne peuvent plus la maintenir et va représenter un poste de dépenses important dans le budget de la Fondation. Par contre, le choix de financer en plus quatre logiciels de l’écosystème OSM fait désormais de facto de l’OSMF un acteur économique avec tous les enjeux et intérêts nouveaux que cela accompagne. Et en dehors de ces aspects cruciaux de gouvernance, ce choix explose d’autant plus le montant cumulé des dépenses de la Fondation au cours des 12 derniers mois. Celui-ci atteint environ 300 000 euros, dont 130 000 dévolus à une simple maintenance de iD, contre 75 000 pour l’année 2019, sur total de fonds disponibles qui s’élèverait à 613 000 euros [5]. La moitié des fonds disponibles aura donc été dépensée en une seule année, pratiquement l’équivalent de la donation du Pineapple Fund passé dans des projets logiciels en dehors du périmètre de l’OSMF. La pérennité de cette approche reposerait sur une stratégie de levée de fonds encore à définir totalement, alors que le contexte économique à venir est particulièrement morose, qu’il n’y a jamais eu jusqu’à présent qu’une seule donation à plus de 100 000 EUR et qu’il est possible que les SotM physiques, source de revenus pour la Fondation, ne puissent être organisés au cours des prochaines années.

En outre, cette action centrée uniquement vers des besoins techniques laisse totalement de côté d’autres enjeux pourtant majeurs, comme celui au cœur des deux dernières élections du board depuis l’épisode GlobalLogic : celui de sa fragilité à des tentatives de prise de contrôle. Deux ans après, l’OSMF ne semble pas être mieux armée pour contrer ce danger, et plutôt moins, ayant moins de trésorerie et des besoins financiers plus importants pour maintenir ses serveurs. Des ébauches de solutions avaient pourtant été proposées, mais n’ont pas été reprises et mises en œuvre, comme celle consistant à accroire le nombre de sièges au board pour réduire les risques d’un changement radical à la suite d’un simple renouvellement. Ce qui s’est précisément produit cette année… La recherche d’autres moyens pour renforcer la structure de l’OSMF pourrait par exemple nécessiter un appui juridique qui serait vraisemblablement coûteux :inventer ou consolider une forme juridique qui garantisse l’indépendance de la Fondation, le maintien de ses objectifs et de certaines de ses valeurs (par exemple une licence libre intégrant nécessairement attribution et Share Alike), à la manière dont les médias The Guardian ou Mediapart ont pu trouver des formes originales pour pérenniser leur indépendance.

[1] http://blog.imagico.de/osmf-general-meeting-and-board-elections/

[2] https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Mission_Statement

[3] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/imagico/diary/393808

[4] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2020-August/007018.html

[5] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2020-August/007003.html


(automatic translation by www.DeepL.com/Translator)

The latest blog post [1] by Christoph Hormann (Imagico) on the OSMF was mentioned in #531 of WeeklyOSM, but was not the subject of a thread on the OSMF’s talk list. With two months to go before the end of the year and a new election to the board, it deserves to be shared and commented on.

Personally, I share the same concerns and disappointment, as well as a certain discouragement. I generally had the same perception, with nuances, regarding the different candidacies submitted during the last election. How could one imagine that a change of 3 people out of a total of 7 would produce such radical mutations in the conduct of the board, something that the demonstrations of some and others did not allow us to perceive at the time?

The introduction of non-public meetings, which had not been held since 2016, is indeed regrettable and unexpected, when the only candidate who wanted them to return at the time of the elections was not elected, and at the same time two people who might have wanted to put an end to it were leaving the board. Respect for the transparency of exchanges and decisions is a point that should not be overlooked for supposed advantages in terms of efficiency or ease of speech. Apart from the loss of the members’ ability to control the decisions made by the Foundation’s board, it is also the best way to demotivate those who wish to follow, comment on and actively accompany its work. For my part, I would add the new tendency to create restricted committees whose members are chosen directly by the board (or whose selection is made through the caudal forks of one of the board members), which differs significantly from the practice of working groups open to any member who wants to get involved. However, even within the framework of these designated committees, the board can overrule the decisions, as evidenced by the selection of the Microgrants select committee, some of whose unsuccessful candidates were finally selected, which was not without surprise.

We are touching here on another strong and worrying trend of the OSMF 2020 board: that of freeing itself from the frameworks built in the past, the absence of willingness to put in place new, well-argued and well-defined frameworks, and the refusal to consider the implications of potentially far-reaching actions in terms of governance or financial management. In the absence of a visible history in the wiki (which would obviously be interesting here again in terms of transparency), it is difficult to say when exactly the sentence: “Is responsible for allocating $$ to diverse worthwhile software projects with grants and microgrants was added. ”in the Mission statement page [2]. Apart from the fact that it is rather curious to mention US dollars when, unless I am mistaken, OSMF funds are not held in this currency but in EUR and GBP, this sentence seems particularly vague as to the scope of these funds and leaves room for all interpretations, while many exchanges between OSMF members have taken place on the definition of different perimeters, notably around another blog post also published by Imagico [3]. Unless I’m mistaken, only one member of the board is involved, but the exchange is particularly enlightening: Rory McCann summarizes the board’s approach to funding decisions in terms of what “sounds good” and he fails to understand the expectations summarized by Imagico in the sentence “document and publish the key parts of the decision making process, in particular risk analysis that has been made on social implications and economic risk”. In a thread on the talk list [4], Rory draws a parallel between this mode of decision making and OSM tagging, as if it were possible to compare flexible, reversible semantic choices without any consequence on the future of the OSM project with decisions, especially financial decisions, which are not.

This propensity to (much) finance represents another trend of the OSM 2020 board. It is the most spectacular and visible from the outside. Only one of these financings falls within the Foundation’s scope of action: the function of Senior site reliability engineer to ensure the continuity of service of the OSM servers, which is part of the Foundation’s Mission statements, is difficult to circumvent if the volunteers who have been providing it until now do not wish to or can no longer maintain it and will represent an important item of expenditure in the Foundation’s budget.

On the other hand, the decision to finance an additional four software products from the OSM ecosystem now makes the OSMF a de facto economic player with all the new stakes and interests that this brings with it. And apart from these crucial aspects of governance, this choice further explodes the cumulative amount of the Foundation’s expenditures over the past 12 months. 300,000, of which 130,000 were devoted to simple iD maintenance, compared to 75,000 for the year 2019, out of the total available funds of 613,000 euros [5]. Half of the available funds will thus have been spent in a single year, practically the equivalent of the Pineapple Fund donation spent on software projects outside the OSMF’s perimeter. The sustainability of this approach would be based on a fundraising strategy that has yet to be fully defined, given that the future economic context is particularly gloomy, that there has so far only ever been a single donation in excess of 100,000 Euros, and that the physical SotMs, a source of income for the Foundation, may not be organized in the coming years.

Moreover, this action focused solely on technical needs completely ignores other major issues, such as the one at the heart of the last two board elections since the GlobalLogic episode: the fragility of the board’s ability to take control. Two years later, the OSMF does not seem to be better armed to counter this danger, and rather less so, having less cash and greater financial needs to maintain its servers. Draft solutions had been proposed, but were not taken up and implemented, such as increasing the number of seats on the board to reduce the risk of a radical change following a simple renewal. The search for other means to strengthen the structure of the OSMF could, for example, require legal support, which would probably be costly: inventing or consolidating a legal form that guarantees the independence of the Foundation, the maintenance of its objectives and certain of its values (for example, a free license that necessarily includes attribution and Share Alike), in the same way that the media The Guardian or Mediapart have been able to find original forms to perpetuate their independence.

[1] http://blog.imagico.de/osmf-general-meeting-and-board-elections/

[2] https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Mission_Statement

[3] https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/imagico/diary/393808

[4] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2020-August/007018.html

[5] https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2020-August/007003.html

Comment from mikelmaron on 22 October 2020 at 17:37

A lot here. I just want to make a few corrections for the record.

In the absence of a visible history in the wiki (which would obviously be interesting here again in terms of transparency), it is difficult to say when exactly the sentence: “Is responsible for allocating $$ to diverse worthwhile software projects with grants and microgrants was added. “in the Mission statement page.

The version history is accessible but a little hidden in the template of this page (look at lower right for “More”). This could be improved for sure with a better color choice. Help welcome.

Looking at the full history, that bullet was added in December 2015, apparently based on previous discussion that year (which was before my current tenure, and I have not delved into…).

https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/w/index.php?title=Mission_Statement&oldid=3461

It’s right that “$$” is a bit odd in our Mission Statement, but I think it’s simply a universal way to talk about “money” rather than a specific currency (which in practice is several). Anyway if that remains unclear or controversial, the Board can amend the statement.

Half of the available funds will thus have been spent in a single year, practically the equivalent of the Pineapple Fund donation spent on software projects outside the OSMF’s perimeter. The sustainability of this approach would be based on a fundraising strategy that has yet to be fully defined, given that the future economic context is particularly gloomy, that there has so far only ever been a single donation in excess of 100,000 Euros, and that the physical SotMs, a source of income for the Foundation, may not be organized in the coming years.

In August, we announced the approach to funding this without drawing on OSMF reserves. https://lists.openstreetmap.org/pipermail/osmf-talk/2020-August/006997.html

“To help fund this project, as well as the SSRE role, we’re looking at earmarked donations from companies, chapters and organisations.”

We’re not ready to announce the full results yet, but I can say that we will meet our fundraising goal and will not be required to draw on our reserves for this. Further, we are devising a longer term fundraising strategy to bring us sustainability in the coming years.

For my part, I would add the new tendency to create restricted committees whose members are chosen directly by the board (or whose selection is made through the caudal forks of one of the board members), which differs significantly from the practice of working groups open to any member who wants to get involved.

The committees are not fundamentally more restricted. All the working groups, and committees within groups, all have different qualifications expected of members and processes of approving new members. The Microgrants Special Committee did have a selection process, but was open to nomination by anyone. The Diversity and Inclusion Special Committee in open to people who want to actively contribute with no defined process (note we have been unfortunately been inactive).

Moreover, this action focused solely on technical needs completely ignores other major issues

I think it’s a mischaracterization to say the Board has only been focused on these issues, and that in fact the topic of takeover protection is being actively worked on. Yes it has been an issue for a while, it’s a complex topic. If funds might be needed to help investigate or implement ideas, the availability of funds is not a concern for the Foundation.

Comment from ᚛ᚐᚋᚐᚅᚇᚐ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 22 October 2020 at 18:01

[3]. Unless I’m mistaken, only one member of the board is involved, but the exchange is particularly enlightening: Rory McCann summarizes the board’s approach to funding decisions in terms of what “sounds good” and he fails to understand the expectations summarized by Imagico in the sentence “document and publish the key parts of the decision making process, in particular risk analysis that has been made on social implications and economic risk”.

OK, I think I did address this comment ( https://www.openstreetmap.org/user/imagico/diary/393808#comment47892 ), but to spell it out:

I have used osm2pgsql & Nominatim for years and years, both personally and professionally. I used to use Potlatch as my first editor. I know how useful and important it is. I know how a lot of open source is underfunded and underdeveloped. I know that FLOSS devs often suffer burnout. I see big companies being able to steamroll through open source because they can throw money at things. So when I see the oppertunity to support it, I support it.

I believe that meets this request. Christoph (or you) never did define how many words were required. I could write a 10,000 word document on how useful osm2pgsql etc. are, but then I don’t have the time to work on other board stuff, and I think it’s better to work on other issues like take over protection, reviewing local chapter applications etc.

Two years later, the OSMF does not seem to be better armed to counter this danger, and rather less so, having less cash and greater financial needs to maintain its servers. Draft solutions had been proposed, but were not taken up and implemented

I started the conversation about AoA changes to maker it harder to “buy the OSMF”, and I plan to email some more drafts, and have an AoA amendment prposal for everyone to vote on. I want to do something for this.

Comment from G1asshouse on 26 October 2020 at 06:11

SeverinGeo, I share these same thoughts and concerns (plus more). Thank you for posting.

Google Traduction

SeverinGeo, je partage ces mêmes pensées et préoccupations (et plus encore). Merci d’avoir posté.

Comment from westnordost on 1 November 2020 at 12:52

I came here from weeklyosm. @mikelmaron, good to know that the spendings decided upon are made sure to be sustainable 👍

Comment from milovanderlinden on 1 November 2020 at 20:26

Thanks for writing this. I lost interest in the OSMF about 4 years ago, stayed on as member, but stopped paying membership fee this year. I still love OSM as a platform, but am just tired of putting effort in the foundation or the community. Although it saddens me, it is comforting to know others are worried about the course the foundation is taking.


Login to leave a comment