OSMF survey on board priorities - a quick analysis using the Borda count.

Posted by Stereo on 21 February 2021 in English. Last updated on 22 February 2021.

The raw results of the 2021 OSMF Community Survey have now been posted. One of the questions asked people to rank seven choices for what the board should work on:

In 2021, what do you think should be the priority order of tasks the Board of Directors has set for itself?  Please rank the tasks in order of relative importance to the OSM project.

A vote counting method that’s relatively easy to implement in a spreadsheet on a Sunday evening is the [Borda count]. I’ve done a slightly modified one - an option at first rank gets 7 points, second rank 6 points, etc., until 7th rank gets one point.

The results actually match the results if you rank by first preference. Fund-raising gets high ranks in subsequent preferences, but because it’s not high in the first preference, it ends up in the middle of the final count.

Choice Borda score
Stability of the core infrastructure (hardware, software, human capital) 16591
Takeover protection 11179
Outreach to Local Chapters and Communities 9799
Fund-raising 9529
Attribution guidelines 8307
Recruitment for Working Groups 8299
Brexit 4330

Does anyone want to try a Condorcet ranking?

I mostly agree with that list of priorities.

I hope that I find enough free time to work on hiring our Senior Site Reliability Engineer very soon.

Board members don’t agree on how much a threat takeover is, and how to protect against it - this is definitely something where the members need to make their voices heard. Message me, email the board, post in the comments below.

Brexit is important because it threatens the way we can enforce our database rights in the EU. Locating at least part of the OSMF to the EU would have some advantages, and this might be the final straw that convinces us that we need to open a legal entity there. The current plan is for Rory and I to talk to an EU corporate lawyer - again, once we find enough free time.

Location: 49.600, 6.100


Comment from valerietheblonde on 22 February 2021 at 00:38

I responded to the survey. I’m very concerned about corporate takeover of OSM.

Comment from westnordost on 22 February 2021 at 00:48

What would be a realistic scenarios for a “takeover”, what would it consist of?

Is it possible to change the license to something like “Yeah no, contributors do not retain their copyright, copyright goes to OSMF and actually, we are changing our license to XYZ, nyah nyah!”?

Comment from amapanda ᚛ᚐᚋᚐᚅᚇᚐ᚜ 🏳️‍🌈 on 22 February 2021 at 01:29

It’s interesting to calculate the results using this system. However people did not cast their votes with this system in mind. So be careful about relying too much on this type of analysis.

And yes, I hope we can sort out the Brexit issue.

Comment from RobJN on 22 February 2021 at 17:40

On the database rights topic, we might actually still be protected depending on whether our EU mappers can be called “makers”. Here are some things to look in to:

“[The sui generis database rights] shall apply to a database whose makers or right holders are nationals of a Member State or who have their habitual residence in the territory of the Community” (Source: Notice to stakeholders– Withdrawal of the United Kingdom and EU rules in the field of copyright 28 March 2018)


“Whereas the objective of the sui generis right is to give the maker of a database the option of preventing the unauthorized extraction and/or re-utilization of all or a substantial part of the contents of that database; whereas the maker of a database is the person who takes the initiative and the risk of investing; whereas this excludes subcontractors in particular from the definition of maker;” Source: Directive 96/9/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 1996 on the legal protection of databases

And within OSM:

“When you upload data to OSM, you remain the copyright holder of your data, but you grant certain rights to the OpenStreetMap Foundation under the Contributor Terms.” (source:

Given that many of our mappers live in the EU, then does this not mean that the database continues to be protected if they are “makers”? It might be worth exploring that avenue. Are our mappers in the EU “makers” in the sense that they took on the initiative and risk when they decided to contribute to OSM? If they are then do they continue to hold sui generis database rights? If instead they are “subcontractors” then they would not hold any right, but as we are not contracting them to go out and map (they map what they please) they’re probably not subcontractors. Makers seems to fit in my mind. Worth asking for legal advice.

Comment from TheSwavu on 23 February 2021 at 08:51

Order based on Condorcet Ranked-Pairs:

Rank Choice (wins, losses, unresolved)
1 Stability of the core infrastructure (hardware, software, human capital) (6, 0, 0)
2 Takeover protection (5, 1, 0)
3 Fund-raising (4, 2, 0)
4 Outreach to Local Chapters and Communities (3, 3, 0)
5 Recruitment for Working Groups (2, 4, 0)
6 Attribution guidelines (1, 5, 0)
7 Brexit (0, 6, 0)

Code used.

Comment from TheSwavu on 23 February 2021 at 09:05

The seven priorities coded into 1…7 for using as input is here.

Comment from tracker51 on 28 February 2021 at 16:45

@ westnordost

We had a scenario that goes in this direction shortly before the OSMF elections in the year before last: if I recall correctly a company had registered several of its employees as OSMF members, so that by bundling the votes of these new members the election result at that time could have been influenced. If one thinks this further, then in this way and with candidature of company employees the OSMF board could suddenly consist of people who have company interests in mind in their work …

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