OpenStreetMap

the person writing this piece of diary is by now a middle aged man, in his 50s, still passionate about all that he does, or he simply won’t do it. for reasons which might be clear to a psychologist, but not to a mathematician like the person in question, he assumes the same passion and intellectual correctness in his colleagues, even in the face of proof to the contrary.

since 1989 he left his home town, never settled for longer than 8 years, now since October 2016 living in Panamá, speaking the language as any native latin speaker, that is with a decent linguistic awareness, and with an accent making him sound a mix of French, Colombian and obviously Southern Italian. but language is not the whole story, and regardless his “permanent resident” status, he doubts how not to feel as an alien here in Panamá.

I’ll now switch to writing in first person.

when it had become clear I would stay here for a longer spell, that was around the end of 2018, I looked for ways to collect people around the common OSM interest, I found the very sleepy Panama forum and I founded a Telegram group, and started monitoring new mappers coming to contribute to the map, inviting them to come to the group, and form a local community.

if I knew what is the nature of the trouble, I would face it and find a solution, but I’m very obviously not able to understand what motivates people. I’ve proposed activities on our Wiki, on Telegram, on IRC chats, on diary entries, but we never managed to start a common project, we never managed to discuss any of the difficulties we have here. last January a fellow mapper, at the time a member of the group I had gathered, organized a Zoom meeting (not a good choice in my opinion, because of my limited access to internet bandwidth) and they presented projects, there, in the meeting, not in the Wiki, and everybody exchanging so many thankful words to each other, but now we are 7 months later and nothing has happened, or at least not in public. what has happened is that the guys who made their presentation got out of the group I had gathered, and moved to a private area, where they stay in contact with each other, possibly with external institutions like Apple Data Team, Kaart, YouthMappers, ESRI, and HOT.

recently the founder of that new group complained that I’ve been asking questions, like: “did you exclude the rest of the community?”, or “do we have permission to copy from the National Geographic Institute?”, asking my questions to him in a public setting (after all, myself, and all who stays in contact with me has been invited to stay away from his group). he complains I asked, and he does not answer. I can’t say he refuses to answer, he simply ignores me, in the talk-latam mailing list(1, 2, 3), in the forum, in the Telegram Latam and general group, in the changeset comments.

when he published the answer he received from the IGNTG to his writing “por gestión de la comunidad OpenStreetMap Panamá”, I reminded him he should not suggest he represents me, and an other mapper has stressed there isn’t any “OSM Panama” community. I asked him to publish his letter, to no avail, and without receiving any support nor criticism.

people here simply ignore you.

it does feel rotten, hence the title of my post.

Comment from skquinn on 11 August 2021 at 22:51

That’s absolutely awful. Here in greater Houston, Texas, we don’t have much of a community yet but I hope to change that as soon as we are out of pandemic status. I definitely don’t want to have the same issues here.

Asking whether or not a source is license-compatible to OSM is a valid question. Asking to include the entire community is a valid request. It’s unfortunate that both of them seem to get you ignored/excluded.

Comment from DeBigC on 19 August 2021 at 16:06

Being the same age, interests and similar experiences to yourself has taught me a few lessons in life, and chief among these is that interpersonal conflicts have a minimum of two versions of what happened, who started it, why it happened and who is the victim. Other than letting off steam I doubt that writing it on your diary is in any way a step closer to a resolution, and for there to be a resolution there has to be a third party intervention which reminds everyone involved of the basic principles.

Unfortunately for you OSM doesn’t have a conflict resolution process when it comes to things going wrong with community activism. It is an organisation, and yet not an organisation, in that the dynamics of what happens between two people, or two groups aren’t part of the anyone’s duties to fix, monitor or intervene. I know there are some surface area codes of conduct coming into place soon, but these won’t be able to deal with what has happened to you.

The only hope I would offer to you is philosophical, and it is that the non-organisation of the osm community gives you infinite space to move you interests away into and meet people with similar and different interests to your own. If organisations like the ones you mentioned are attracted to groups that are temporary in their committments let them both at it, they won’t last and won’t harm you as they fade away.

Comment from skquinn on 19 August 2021 at 16:44

I’ve noticed that Carlos has replied to at least a few changeset comments. I, too, wonder how in the h-e-double-hockey-sticks someone can manage to upload unclosed ways for buildings in JOSM. I can only imagine it’s from intentionally turning off the validator prior to upload–not easy to do on accident, and a very bad idea!

Comment from mariotomo on 19 August 2021 at 21:42

A conflict resolution process, or support, or group, would be nice. So much energy going into the CoC, and I wonder where that will lead us to, more rules, possibly more ground to justify conflicts, and not enough of a mature organization to begin with. I like the point of view “OSM is not a community, but a whole ecosystem”, in which to look for the right community.

Comment from mariotomo on 19 August 2021 at 21:49

Regarding JOSM, I am a very happy user of the two buildings_tools and utilsplugin2 plugins, and I keep learning new tricks making life easier and errors more difficult.


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