From OpenStreetMap Foundation


  • Rory McCann
  • Paul Norman
  • Tobias Knerr
  • Joost Schouppe

The rest of the board members were present at the parallel session about attribution.

Board member bios

Hiring Notes

Draft notes by participants - Dorothea was present at the attribution session.

Next steps

  1. Brainstorm (in board & community) limits & risks of hiring
  2. Community consultation
  3. Draft the hiring practices
    • Decide on criteria for when we -can’t- wait for volunteers to step up
      • We should strongly not prefer hiring when there’s decent volunteer options.
    • Brainstorm (in board & community) & write down checks & balances, on hiring rules, to address risks
    • Strong preference against paid staff having prestigious job titles <-> job title can be practical, are cheap and make you a more attractive employer
    • Hire from long-time volunteers (except if necessary to keep essential services going) <-> don’t hire people just because they’re volunteers
    • Avoid paid leadership positions
    • No “automatic” replacement of employees who leave
    • Contractually enshrine that first loyalty is to the community <-> make sure people don’t have 10.000 bosses
    • Set a groundwork so that Dorothea does not find herself with a worse contract than others
    • make employees cooperate remotely through the same platforms that volunteer contributors to that project also use
    • How would we hire people
      • procedures, budgets, committee, nitty gritty details
      • Work out employment policies
    • Define management protocols
      • Define reporting structures
    • Define interaction with community: expectations and “how” //MM: Keep a focus on creating a good working environment for staff/employees. So may need some finesse on the hiring practices. For instance job titles can be useful for someone’s career path; volunteering should be a factor, but not the only one (a stronger non-volunteer candidate should not be unduly penalized); replacement isn’t automatic, but backfill should be discussed; “loyalty to the community” could result in 1000 bosses, needs reframing.
  4. Community consultation
  5. Implement: management, reporting structures, interaction with community

Limits and risks

RISKS to model and mitigate

Harm to volunteers

  • Crowding out of volunteers
  • Paid work drives away volunteers, who don’t want to do it if someone else is getting paid

Community Ownership

  • Project becomes used to what the employee(s) provide, so there is no choice in rehiring, the project would have to rehire, meaning rapidly needing to find funding
  • Paid staff has other incentives than volunteers, less of an implicit filter for well-intentioned people
  • Paid staff set direction of the project
  • Who pays the piper, calls the tune. A company can tell us what to do, or they will pull funding
  • Board (or whoever ultimately decides what people work on) becomes a lot more important → vulnerability for takeovers, departure from do-ocracy

Bad hiring outcomes

  • Exponential growth of number of employees
  • Nobody wants to work for us (or they burn out quickly)
  • Paid staff don’t interact with OSM contributors


  • Avoid exponential growth of number of employees
    • Do we define a limit of X number of people, explicitly limit the growth rate
  • Explicitly ban certain terms in job titles: “Manager”, “Executive”, “Director”, “Chief”, etc?
  • Require that funding for each employee comes from N different sources, who don’t contribute more than 1/N of total
  • Require funders have a X year cancellation notice period
  • Re-evaluate after X time

Not covered

  • Paying for this
  • What general roles to hire for


Addition by Dorothea after the meeting.