Thanks for all the comments. Where I live, tree databases are a thing typically kept by a city, mostly not so much because they’re interested in trees but because they need to cut them down when they pose a safety risk ;) crucially only trees on public ground will be in the city’s database, and trees on private ground, which can form a significant proportion depending on where you are, are not catalogued.
Biggest issue is probably the fact that especially non-English-speaking users liberally apply the categories “abusive”, “threat”, and “offensive” to things like “someone has placed this business in the wrong location”. There are probably translation issues that stem from these words being translated without context.
Another problem that I might have mentioned in the past is that it is not possible to write a reply from within the issue workflow; the most frequently occurring misunderstanding - someone “reporting” an useless note instead of simply closing it themselves - therefore requires 1. write comment, 2. mark issue as resolved, 3. click in reporter’s user name then click on “send message” then send a message that starts “dear so-and-so, regarding the report you made on note, so-and-so, please understand that you can simply resolve these notes…”, a process that again is fraught with translation issues because when I write that they can “click on resolve” of course I don’t know what the button will be named in their UI. This could be simplified a little if there were a checkbox “also send a message to the complainant” or so when you submit a comment.
The giant issue for DWG is of course that the whole thing is not integrated with OTRS, so the workflow for any non-trivial tickets for us is 1. manually open ticket in OTRS, 2. copy issue text to OTRS ticket, 3. write comment with link to OTRS ticket, 4. mark issue as resolved, 5. if we need to contact the person who raised the ticket, send a personal message within OSM, add a “note” to the ticket in OTRS, copy the message text onto the ticket, and so on (copy potential replies as well). This could be improved if a temporary email address was generated for every complainant and person complained about and these were visible on the issue page; it would then at least be possible to directly send messages to these users from within OTRS. Ideally of course issues would directly be opened in OTRS instead of on OSM. OTRS has an API than can do that.
Funny how quickly this has taken a turn towards the discussion of corporate mapping. This medium is unsuitable for a structured discussion so forgive me if I just drop a few words: 1 - I think that the good map is indeed our highest goal, and diversity, for us, is mainly interesting insofar as we believe it leads to a good map. 2 - Same with community cohesion; we believe that it is a prerequisite for making the good map, and will kick people out of the project altogether if they cannot play with the others. 3 - Values can conflict and if they do there has to be an individual assessment of the case. 4 - Our belief that many (diverse) hands make a good map even if the individual has a very limited concern is a bit like the classic assumption from economic theory that every individual in the economy strives to maximize their personal wealth and this magically leads to a perfect economy. Of course just as it has turned out that this does not work without some regulation in economy, neither does it work without any regulation in OSM.
On a more general level, this discussion seems to lose sight of the difference between the OSMF and OSM. Strictly speaking the OSMF has no mandate to set values for OSM, it can only set values for itself, and any diversity statement claiming that “we want X” issued by the OSMF is about the OSMF and its members, not about OSM and its contributors. The OSMF can define how it wants to operate (i.e. how it wants to pursue its goal of supporting OSM), it cannot define how OSM should be operating. The OSMF can, in its role of supporting but not controlling OSM, perhaps “suggest” values in order to support OSM, but not enforce them. There are some levers here of course; if the OSMF said “ok dear OSM, we’ll stop paying for your servers unless you subscribe to this set of values” then we’d be up for interesting times.
Or maybe the new board has decided to ditch this old-fashioned distinction between an OSMF that supports-but-not-controls the project and the project itself?
Nancy Pelosi (current speaker of the democratic-led House of Representatives of the US government) has this to say about Facebook: https://twitter.com/AdamParkhomenko/status/1217890445033910273/video/1
Accounts that have zero map edits and that post OSM unrelated advertising content in their diary will usually be closed by the site admins. The DWG has nothing to do with that. Accounts that do have meaningful map edits are not simply closed. That this happened to the account of “a friend of” EditConscript (“solmap2”) was a mistake that has meanwhile been remedied.
I’ll offer a couple quick comments on the feedback I have received.
Most importantly, I underestimated the reach of this medium; I had assumed it was essentially consumed by OSM insiders who would have been part of past discussions and hence know the background. Apparently not so, and I apologize to those readers who had to cobble together the background by asking others. I shall give more context in the future.
Some people said that I am lamenting a situation which I, as an OSMF board member, could instead have fixed or helped fix. That’s a fair point; had I concentrated on this one issue I might have been able to move something. I haven’t done that. But does that failure disqualify me from pointing out issues for all eternity? Even the fact that people think the board should get involved is already a sign that something isn’t working right.
Some people tried to tone-police me and disqualify the point being made based on allegedly “toxic” expression. If you are one of these people and have in the past chided the iD developers when they gave condescending replies to polite and factual criticisms, good for you; if you, however, singled me out for “toxicity” while happily turning a blind eye to “toxic” remarks by the iD developers in the past then you are being very selective.
Some said I should have given more examples of what the problem was; I trust appropriate links to issue trackers and mailing list posts have meanwhile been passed around. Again, I mistakenly assumed that everyone had been following the issue.
Some people hoped to advance the discussion by referring to my age; I don’t see what this has to do with anything but I hope you had a good chuckle with your youthful pals on whatever social media platform is en vogue. Guess your next witty joke is going to be about someone’s skin colour.
Some people see an “USA vs. Europe” schism here but I didn’t when I wrote my piece; there are US American maintainers of Open Source projects who manage to behave respectfully towards those who use their software and there are Europeans who give everyone the finger. So, meh.
This isn’t the first time we are having this discussion, and in an earlier instance someone has eloquently said more or less the following: The iD developers excel at coding an user-friendly editor, and they suck at interacting with the community. Communicating their plans, getting buy-in, and dealing with criticism shouldn’t be their job; they should concentrate on what they can do well. De-coupling the OSM web site from the iD release cycle will help with that; ensure that whatever the iD developers do only goes live after it has been carefully looked at. It is not a solution but the first step of one.
And finally, someone complained that I brought “abusive relationships” into this, thereby belittling the suffering of those caught in such situations. My reason for this was that people in abusive relationships often cite reasons for not ending them that go like: “Deep down my partner loves me, and when they lash out this is just because I said something wrong”, or, “I know it is sometimes difficult but I cannot imagine how I could live without my partner”. I found that this mirrors what people in OSM say about iD. I didn’t mean to equate actual physical harm with a couple snotty comments on GitHub, and I’m sorry for that.
I would like to point out:
DWG list of members is public and has always been: https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Data_Working_Group - It should not be too difficult to find out who of those is “mavl”.
DWG membership policy is here: https://wiki.osmfoundation.org/wiki/Data_Working_Group/DWG_Membership_Policy
90% of what DWG does is analyzing edits, talking to people, and reverting things; all this can be - and is! - done by a functioning community without needing special permissions. Most conflicts are solved in the local language on local forums or mailing lists without the involvement of the DWG. The DWG only gets involved when that does not work. If Google translate works right then this is exactly what you are suggesting above?
Frederik Ramm (aka woodpeck)
OSMF DWG member
Alex, we have taken the liberty removing some of your comments above that were insulting on purpose. I welcome your decision to stop engaging the sysadmin team, and just in case you accidentally lapse, I will remove any future derogatory blog entries or comments here. That includes “factual” comments in which you lash out against people between the lines as you have done time and time again in the last months, and anything that is snarky, cynical, or sarcastic.
I also put you on notice that your OSM account may be disabled altogether if you continue insulting and offending our volunteers, or repeat such stunts as to call our service providers and complain about OSM, or take other deliberate steps that are suitable to harm the project. This is not something we would ever do lightly but you have a very long history of getting on everybody’s nerves and this is certainly not just because you are 10 times brighter than everyone else.
There is some merit in some things you say and if you didn’t wrap everything you say in a coat of bile, you might actually be heard. (I believe Ian Dees pointed this out to you in another thread, upon which you replied “don’t tell me what to do”). I am mainly in the business of telling you what not to do, but if I may recommend something then it would be: Get together with some others. Form a group that makes constructive suggestions. Hopefully the others in the group can then take your ideas and communicate them in a way that is not offending, and this could be a win for everyone.
I am writing this in the name of the OSMF Data Working Group who have received a number of complaints about your behaviour.
The Australian POI is interesting in that it was added, then modified by the b-jazz-https-all-the-things bot, then changed back to http by the original mapper (wonder if there’s a possibility for an endless loop here…). I deleted it now, let’s see if it comes back from the dead.
With my DWG hat on, we expect mappers to communicate with the community, at least when they’re asked a question. If you create your account with a throwaway email address but still manage to notice when someone comments on your changeset or messages you in OSM, that’s fine. If you don’t, then DWG will block you after a while, not because you’re bad but because we assume that you must have overlooked people trying to get in touch. If you then continue mapping without communication then you’re likely to be blocked for longer. If you then start creating new accounts to circumvent the block, you have firmly painted yourself in the “bad actors” corner.
I think there is ample evidence that all the accounts being targeted here are indeed controlled by the same entity which is not playing by our rules (in more than one way). They must be treated as one entity, not as hundreds of innocent newbie mappers.
I am not aware of any mapper-to-mapper interaction with any of the accounts being discussed here. If anyone manages to raise any of these accounts and talk to them, explain to them that we have certain minimal quality expectations (like e.g. actually looking when you place a POI, and finding the right tags for a POI instead of just spamming the map with names, etc.) then that would be a very positive step.
This is not helpful and must be removed. OSM notes are not a vehicle to transport “some information that may or may not be useful to the mapper”, and an import that goes “you are all invited to assist in finishing the job” is exactly the kind of import that damages the map.
The data can be useful - put it in a shape file, and everyone can load it in their editor and copy names to osm FROM THE SHAPEFILE instead of from imported nodes.
No. Without commenting on the concrete issue at hand, the general idea of “let others map what they want, that’s freedom” is dangerous. We all have a shared responsibility for OpenStreetMap, and that includes making sure that bad/damaging/problematic stuff does not go into the database. We can discuss whether disputed boundaries are bad/damaging/problematic, but we cannot discuss about allowing bad/damaging/problematic stuff into the database on the grounds of “freedom”. People protecting OSM from bad/damaging/problematic stuff are not evil gatekeepers taking away the freedom of others. And frankly, the trope about the “few vocal individuals” from someone who has single-handedly not only added hundreds of thousands of wikidata entries to OSM but is now also slowly re-structuring the wiki according to his wikidata habits? I guess they’re only a vocal minority if they are not you!
This is an interesting project. However, as has been said in the ongoing discussion about dissenting views on administrative boundaries, there is often very little on-the-ground evidence of these claims. So if someone should come along and delete some of these claims that you plan to map in OSM on the basis of lack of evidence, they would have established OSM best practice on their side. This is especially true for geometries you add (as opposed to adding tags to existing geometries). To reduce the risk of disputes about disputed boundaries, I would suggest that you try your best to document the sources so that if something is not verifiable on the ground, it is at least verifiable through the source that you have specified. If OSM’s on-the-ground rules should turn out to be too much of a stumbling block for this project, then maybe as a compromise disputed boundaries in OSM could receive a pointer to an external “world-view database” that would allow data processors to query that separate database where needed. (Speaking in personal capacity, not in that of a DWG member.)
I salute your enthusiasm but:
A long time ago I was the “secretary” of the OSMF and responsible for writing the OSMF board meeting minutes. I tried to make them as detailed as I could, explaining which arguments were raised and what was decided. I was then asked to stop doing that, as there was an - admittedly real - risk of me “spinning” things by giving some arguments more room than others. I remember discussing this with two other board members in person. I said: “Perhaps we should record the meeting and release a transcript, then there’s no danger of being partisan.” One of them replied: “No, that would make us look silly.”
So, seconding Richard (with whom I briefly served on the board) I have to say I find the fact that the public is nowadays allowed to listen in a very good corrective against the stuff that makes us look silly. I found this past meeting rather civilised.
The strength of OSM, compared to closed commercial map offerings, is its community. If OSM were just a mix of imported third-party data sets, the HEREs and Googles of this world would long have overtaken us because they have more engineers than we have.
Any import into OSM must be seen through these eyes: Does it help the community? Is there a group of local mappers who were only waiting for this import to now start improving it and caring for the data? If yes, then that import can help OSM become better.
If, however, the import is done not by locals but by people who can be thousands of miles away, not “with” the community but “instead of” a community, then it is just window dressing: Making the map look better on the surface, but there’s no community to maintain it. Sadly, most imports are of this second kind, often done by people thousands of miles away with a phony promise of “making OSM better” - but OSM does not become better by some engineer hitting “upload” on a hundred thousand building footprints.
The claim that “one of the most important contributions you can make toward OpenStreetMap is by importing existing datasets” is fundamentally wrong, and demonstrates a deep misunderstanding of what OSM is all about.
I think the current guidelines are better, not worse, than not having guidelines. Because they are a compromise, they also have more weight: They are the core that (almost) everyone can agree to. This means that if you fall foul of these rules, then you won’t have many friends who say “yeah, those rules are biased anyway” etc. And yes, the rules are not rules but a wishlist so it is technically impossible to “violate” them, but honestly, if the community says it would like you to do the following 10 things and you cannot be arsed to do a single one of them, you really can’t claim that what you are doing is “following best practice” or anything. These guidelines are not meant to be a legal document, they’re more a value signifier, telling potential organised editors: If you don’t share our values, fair enough, but don’t expect us to become friends then. Implementing these guidelines, weak as they might be perceived by some, is a step in the right direction, an explicit agreement that a problem exists and some regulation is required… and if these rules don’t solve the problem, they can pave the way for stricter rules down the line.
Christoph, I’m afraid the political situation in OSM is such that the “hobby mapper community” punches way below their weight. I was the one who published the results of DWG’s initial survey which was promptly rubbished as being one-sided and non-inclusive, and I also published our first draft of a policy. In the discussion, the number of “hobby mappers” who supported the draft was countable with the fingers of one hand, while people involved in corporate and humanitarian mapping cried havoc on Twitter and the mailing lists, demanding either my head on a platter or at the very least the whole policy to be re-written from scratch. The problem with the “hobby mapper community” is that it is just that - people whose hobby is mapping and who are otherwise not very much interested. They might be the majority in OSM but they certainly don’t participate in democratic opinion-forming like a majority.
I’m super happy that Stereo had the stamina to continue the process, talk to various “stakeholders” and listen to their issues. The resulting guidelines are miles away from the strict “hobby mappers tell organised mappers how to behave if they want to play” rules that I had initially hoped for, but the fact is, hobby mappers are not organised enough to tell anyone anything. That’s a political reality and we must live with that.
Even these guidelines will still be questioned by some, and I hope that we can stand firm on what we want. Shooting down this policy on the grounds that it is not precise enough, that it is not “executable code” but rather a wishlist, would be a mistake. Even if we don’t write “you must do X” but “we would like it if you do X” is much better than not writing anything because I can point anyone who wants to be our friend to this wishlist and say “well if you want to support OSM as you say, here’s a list of things we would like you to do”. Even if this is not the law but just as wishlist.
I know how much work Stereo put in this process and it pains me to see this work attacked by people who are critical of organised editing. I think these guidelines are as far as we can go in the current political climate, and the alternative is not a stricter policy, but no policy. And that would certainly be worse.
Re. “unnecessary multipolygons”, there’s another class that is as unnecessary but even more difficult to spot and that’s when someone draws, say, three disjunct but close patches of landuse=forest and puts them all in one multipolygon relation. I have heard practitioners of this technique argue that it saves space since “landuse=forest” only needs to be stored once, but in my mind this is really not worth the added complexity we burden mappers with when doing that. The only situation in which this might make sense if the three patches of forest form a named entity together.
Bei Nacht sind alle Tasten grau.